The Papaver somniferum (poppy plant) has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries. With origins in the Eastern Mediterranean, its flowers come in several colors — primarily yellow and white. The seeds these flowers produce are round, small, and black, bluish, or light to dark gray, depending on where they’re cultivated.
Poppy seeds are used in traditional dishes and baked goods globally. Both their oil and the seeds are said to offer various health benefits, from treating coughs and headaches to curing insomnia and asthma. All the same, we may want to know how these claims stand up to scientific review.
Multiple variants of Poppy seeds are readily available. From these, the popular types are:
- Oriental Poppy seeds – Also called Opium Poppy
- White Poppy seeds – Also known as Asian/Indian Poppy seeds
- Blue Poppy seeds – Also called European Poppy seeds.
Benefits of Poppy Seeds
Here are some widespread benefits of Poppy seeds:
1. Rich in antioxidants and nutrients
Like most seeds, poppy seeds are high in plant fats, fiber, and various other nutrients. Nine grams (1 tablespoon) provides :
- Carbs: 2.5 grams
- Calories: 46
- Protein: 1.6 grams
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Fat: 3.7 grams
- Iron: 5% of the DV
- Thiamine: 6% of the DV
- Zinc: 6% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 6% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Calcium: 10% of the DV
- Copper: 16% of the DV
- Manganese: 26% of the Daily Value (DV)
Poppy seeds are exceptionally rich in manganese, a trace element important for blood clotting and bone health. This mineral also helps your body utilize fats, amino acids, and carbs. They’re likewise rich in copper, a mineral needed to transport iron and make connective tissue.
Research typically associates diets rich in these fats with improved overall health and a lower heart disease risk. And, diets with a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio may be associated with an increased risk of disease and inflammation. As such, you shouldn’t consume huge amounts of omega-6-rich oils or poppyseed oil regularly.
Finally, poppy seeds and their oil are good sources of polyphenols — a type of antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease conditions. Poppy seeds found on baked goods or in supermarkets are widely considered safe and have few, if any, opium compounds.
2. Enhances Cardiovascular System
The immense amount of dietary fibers in poppy seeds keep good cholesterol up and minimize bad cholesterol levels. Packed with iron, it acts as a natural blood purifier and increases the hemoglobin and RBC (red blood cell) count of the blood.
Oleic acid minimizes the blood pressure levels, and Omega-6 fatty acids in poppy make it extremely beneficial for the heart and reduce blockages and heart attacks.
3. Prevents Ulcers
The pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of poppy seeds play a vital role in treating different types of ulcers like peptic ulcers, colitis, mouth ulcers or canker sores, etc. The bioactive substances in the seeds of poppy promote tissue regeneration and promote wound healing.
Simply make a pellet by mixing few grounded poppy seeds with powdered sugar candy and crushed dry coconut and suck on this for instant relief from mouth ulcers.
4. Provides relief in abdominal pain
One of the most honored South Asian home remedies for stomach pain is to take powdered poppy seeds with a little clarified butter or ghee. (The existence of papaverine, which is a non-addictive variant of opium used in medicine to relieve muscle spasms).
5. Boosts female fertility
Several studies assert that flushing the fallopian tubes with poppy seed oil may boost fertility. Since this oil can dissolve any type of mucus or debris, it can increase fertility chances.
It can further aid in digestion, too, for similar reasons. They also contain lignans responsible for boosting sexual desires and libido, hence enhancing your sexual health.
6. Natural Analgesic
Since ancient times, Poppy seeds have been a tried and tested option to ease the pain. Many ancient medical practitioners have used Poppy seeds’ analgesic properties to comfort their patients from pain and discomfort.
Some reports also suggest Poppy tea’s consumption, made by mixing the seeds with hot water, to lessen pain. The pain-easing property is remarkably high in the Opium variant of the Poppy seeds.
7. Drug tests
Eating these seeds can result in a positive drug test. For example, small amounts of morphine and codeine may remain detectable in urine for up to 48 hours after consuming poppy seeds.
The specific amount needed to result in a positive drug test depends on the testing lab’s thresholds and the concentration of opium remaining after the seeds have been cleaned. Plainly speaking, the more poppy seeds you consume, the higher your chances of testing positive for opium substances.
Health hazards and Side effects
Poppy seed teas, Unwashed poppy seeds, and poppy-containing products marketed as sleep aids or natural pain relievers may contain doses of opioids sufficient to cause addiction, overdose, and even death. Therefore, their use is firmly discouraged unless you are under medical supervision.
Similarly, poppyseed oil may harbor fluctuating amounts of opioid compounds, depending on the seeds used to prepare it — though experts have yet to investigate this issue.
Poppyseed oil is usually considered safe when applied to the skin. Yet, if you experience itchiness, redness, or pain, it’s best to discontinue its use.
Poppy seeds are rich in nutrients and healthy plant compounds like manganese. These seeds and their oil may aid digestion and boost fertility, though further research is needed on many of their purported benefits.
Unwashed poppy seeds can also become contaminated with varying amounts of opium compounds known for their pain-relieving, calming, and sleep-inducing properties. Yet, you should never eat unwashed poppy seeds due to the health risks involved.