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Irving Haber,1 Joseph Pergolizzi, Jr.,2 and Jo Ann LeQuang2
Corresponding author.

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Unwashed poppy seeds room widely available online through exclusive websites or via well-known sellers such as eBay and Amazon. This seeds deserve to be used to create a tea that has an opioid content adequate to produce psychoactive effects and also to reason withdrawal symptoms as soon as discontinued abruptly, yet their sale and distribution is legit in the joined States. Clinicians might not be aware of poppy particle tea and also some individuals may usage it habitually or together an analgesic. Over there is a paucity of literary works on this topic, return a few cases that poppy seed tea intoxication and also dependence have been reported. A clinical case is gift here.


Opium is the dried extract of the exudate from the seedpods that unripe poppies, Papaver somniferum. Opium includes a selection of building material (fats, proteins, tree wax, latex, sugars, and others) along with some an essential alkaloids: morphine (10–15%), codeine (1–3%), noscapine (4–8%), papaverine (1–3%) and also thebaine (1–2%) <1>. Poppy seed are provided to make poppy particle tea by washing or soaking large quantities of seed to remove the residual coating that opioid and also debris from the seeds <2>. A big quantity the unwashed poppy seed is required to do the tea.

Poppy-seed-based beverages have a lengthy history. In fact, Paracelsus, the Swiss physician, is credited with having actually “invented” a poppy-based beverage known as laudanum in the 16th century by mix opium, distilled water, and alcohol. Laudanum to be widely provided in Europe and America up until the 19th century, in ~ which time opium additionally found its means into many patent medicines. It to be not until the early on 20th century the the potential dangers of opium were discussed scientifically <3>, and also its to produce was brought into laboratories under commonwealth regulations.

In a survey taken amongst patients at an opioid rehabilitation facility (n = 24), 46% of patient reported the they had tried poppy seed tea. 5 of the 24 patients reported poppy particle tea as their main resource of opioids. 2 of the 24 patients had opioid usage disorder from other opioids and used poppy particle tea to manage withdrawal symptoms. In this survey, respondents claimed poppy particle tea had actually an onset of action of around 15 min and also effects can last 24 h; its key reported limit was that it did no taste an excellent <2>. In the unified States and many other parts the the world, unwashed poppy seed are available freely v no legitimate restrictions.

This file describes a situation report from the author’s experience along with a review of case reports in the literary works on poppy seeds tea. The instance study reported below conforms to honest standards and was carried out by scientifically default investigators through the informed consent the the subject. The instance studies pointed out in our testimonial of the literary works on poppy particle tea were not performed by these investigators.

Drug Concentrations

Poppy seed contain negligible alkaloid content and also have lengthy been thought about safe for use in baking, although lock may cause a false confident on particular drug tests. The highest possible content the phenanthrene alkaloids in the poppy plant are uncovered in the particle pods; the seed themselves have much lower concentrations <4>. The opioid concentrations uncovered in poppy seeds come primarily from the alkaloid residue maintained on the seeds, i m sorry is why “unwashed” is critical marketing term for poppy seeds purveyors. The opioid concentration the poppy seeds tea varies widely, together it is based upon the amount of alkaloid residue on the seeds, the quantity of seed used, how the tea is prepared, and how lot tea an individual consumes. Recipes because that poppy seeds tea contact for soaking a huge quantity of seed for as much as 12 h; soaking may be done in water or in lemon juice.

The morphine, codeine, and also thebaine contents in poppy seeds tea was analyzed by fluid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and found a morphine concentration of < 1–2788 mg/kg, a codeine concentration of < 1–247.6 mg/kg, and a thebaine concentration of < 1–124 mg/kg through alkaloid returns varying depending on extraction method. This says that high, potentially lethal sheep of morphine deserve to be uncovered in poppy seeds tea <5>.

Cases that Poppy seed Tea dependency from the Literature

There is a paucity of literary works on poppy seed tea yet the about dozen write-ups on the topic relate mainly to case studies the poppy particle tea dependence. An 82-year-old widow in India presented to a clinic through a 55-year background of minus use, beginning with an minus candy provided to relieve pain ~ the bear of her fourth child. End the years, she learned to do a tea from dried poppy pods; she spend 1 to 2 l the this beverage daily and her family carried her for treatment as soon as poppy pods were no longer accessible to her and she underwent withdrawal symptoms, rated 26 on the Clinical Opioid Withdrawal scale (COWS). She underwent detoxification under medical supervision and was then started on opioid maintenance treatment with 0.4 mg the buprenorphine and counseling. She was complied with for 1 year and also had skilled no relapse <6>.

In one more case report in the literature, a 43-year-old mrs in Australia gift at a drug therapy center; she had been one intravenous (IV) heroin user who moved to poppy seed tea around 10 years previously to regulate her addiction. Over the decade, she had increased her intake to the point where she was making use of 5 or 6 kg the poppy seed per week to do her tea, which she just took orally. She had tried to avoid using poppy particle tea on her own, with counseling, and also in residential treatments yet had never ever been successful. Each time she discontinued poppy seeds tea she proficient withdrawal symptom of diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, and also rhinorrhea. The patience was began on buprenorphine maintenance and also has been successful in maintaining this regimen <7>.

A 26-year-old guy presented at a medicine treatment facility with substantial substance usage disorder history. His IV heroin usage started around the age of 22, which was periodically punctuated through amphetamine binges, and also by the following year that was making use of poppy seeds tea come substitute because that his heroin use, i m sorry had come to be prohibitively expensive (about $1000 every week). He likewise suffered depression and also anxiety. He was drinking the solution from around 1 kg of poppy seeds per day, which he to be able to acquisition at a neighborhood supermarket. Over time, his usage escalated to three times the amount, i m sorry he sometimes supplemented through opportunistic use of heroin, benzodiazepine, and alcohol. The patient was commenced top top a methadone maintenance regimen that began at 30 mg but escalated over the following 12 weeks come 110 mg (at reduced doses, he would “top off” with poppy particle tea). His agitation and anxiety boosted when poppy particle tea to be discontinued, yet this was managed with venlafaxine XR 225 mg and also psychological treatment <7>.

A 26-year-old baker endured a tonic–clonic seizure, which showed up to medical professionals to be the an outcome of a toxicity encephalopathy <8>. The baker denied using drugs, yet his employer noted the bakery was ordering an unusually big amount the poppy seeds. After a urine drug screen revealed the existence of morphine, the baker admitted that he drank poppy seeds tea every night in ~ the bakery, other he had learned native the other bakers once he to be still an apprentice. That admitted the he had actually used IV heroin for numerous years, which he had been may be to avoid with poppy seeds tea. He gone into a methadone maintenance therapy program, which he quit after number of months and resumed poppy seed tea. His poppy particle tea intake escalated rapidly, and he proclaimed that if the skipped poppy seeds tea for 1 day, he emerged withdrawal symptoms. A sample the the tea he ready regularly for himself tested to have actually a morphine concentration the 0.14 mg/ml. He was drinking approximately 2 l the this tea every day, i m sorry required about 4 kg the poppy seed per day. This quantity was not trivial, as it converts to daily usage of around 280 mg of morphine a day. He requested detoxification and rehabilitation. He started on extended-release morphine 60 mg twice day-to-day to regulate withdrawal and also eventually tapered come 20 mg double daily. His blood tests present a morphine concentration that 0.1 mg/ml and also he has had no further seizures and also stated that no much longer drinks poppy seed tea <8>.

Poppy seeds Availability

In the joined States, poppy plants are considered a Schedule II managed substance with the exemption of the seeds, which room legal to purchase and also have been renowned for numerous decades in baking. Poppy seeds room also available for legal acquisition in Australia, Canada, and also many various other countries. In brand-new Zealand, large bags the poppy seeds deserve to be acquired from the supermarket and also are reasonably inexpensive <2>. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, significant online stores serving client within and also outside the the US, sell poppy seeds for sale. A popular large health and also wellness website ( recommends poppy seeds tea for pain control and also recipes appear there and on (neither of this sites market poppy seeds). The website sells various varieties of poppy seeds (identified by origin: English, Australian, Spanish) for $9.99 come $17.98 a pound. The website advertises poppy seed from California as a “homemade high” and also offers a pound of unwashed poppy seed for $25.99. The website sells European and Tasmanian “unwashed” poppy seeds through prices accessible upon e-mail request, as discounts may use if a the person who lives opts for 10 lb or more. Poppy seed are likewise sold top top this website as an exfoliant. sell a range of foodstuffs, including poppy seeds for $11.99 lb (English), $7.99 a lb (Dutch), or $4.99 a pound (Spanish). This website does not discuss poppy particle tea. sell opium seeds to grow poppies.

Other routes of Administration

Poppy seeds tea is plan to it is in drunk, yet there space two instance reports that IV use of poppy seeds tea <9>. Two guys injected poppy seed tea IV together and also developed comparable and nearly immediate reactions: fever, quick heart price (about 170 beats every minute), vomiting, and also myalgia. Upon arrival to the emergency department, their temperature was about 40 °C, oxygen saturation was about 90%, respiration was at 38/min for both males who to be writhing in pain and vomiting. Patients to be treated v ceftriaxone and vancomycin together with IV benzodiazepines for agitation. Both men had actually to be admitted come the intensive care unit (ICU); lock left the ICU and at 72 h left the hospital versus medical advice <9>.

Eating poppy seed in large quantities is not associated with opioid toxicity, but there is one situation report in the literary works where a 54-year-old woman died of a bowel obstruction after eat a very big amount that poppy seed <10>.

The Case

The following situation comes indigenous the clinic that Dr. Irving Haber. A 42-year-old man with a background of opioid use disorder gift voluntarily come the clinic because that medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Around a year earlier, he had actually learned that poppy seeds were legal and also readily accessible online, so he began making and also consuming poppy seed tea. Over time, he enhanced his intake of poppy seeds tea, however for plenty of months he had still to be able to control his an individual affairs and run his family members business, a professional style company, without problem. As soon as he got to the point that he to be no much longer able to regulate the case on his own without medical help, he self-referred come the clinic.

Under ours clinical care, he entered detoxification and after much more than 24 h that abstinence; his Clinical Opioid Withdrawal range (COWS) score was 23. He to be titrated to 16 mg buprenorphine/naloxone, which lessened his COWS score come 8. The patient provided that he experienced unpleasant tide of nausea after ~ each administration of buprenorphine/naloxone, which ongoing over the next couple of days. His withdrawal symptoms were typical for opioids but were an ext protracted, tedious, and tenacious.

The patient to be titrated come the relatively high sheep of 24 mg buprenorphine monotherapy, which to be well tolerated. In fact, rotation to right buprenorphine 24 mg (without naloxone) allowed him to discontinue ondansetron hydrochloride 8 mg every 6 h and also reduce his use of promethazine 25 mg from four times day-to-day to when at night. An initial urine display after making use of mass spectrometry and liquid gas chromatography about a week indigenous induction was optimistic for morphine in ~ 951 ng/l. Two weeks later on (3 weeks post-induction), the test showed he to be qualitatively optimistic for morphine, which was quantified together 23,495 ng/l. The patient denied any type of use the poppy particle tea and also in a re-test in the next 2 weeks, morphine levels were undetectable. In 6 weeks, the patient was acquisition buprenorphine 20 mg, which has since been diminished to 18 mg. The patient agreed come taper to 16 mg. He has actually undergone counseling and also he and his family members were authorize a naloxone auto-injector mechanism to protect him versus opioid overdose.


Opioid usage disorder has come to be a significant public health situation in the joined States, and also the existing legal condition of unwashed poppy seeds and the popularity of poppy seed tea as a “legal high” or “pain control” is disturbing in the poppy seed tea shows up to result in dependency in some users. Very few clinicians are aware of poppy particle tea and also it is most likely that patients might think this is a benign “natural” beverage. Through no legal restrictions and apparent proof from dependable brands and also trusted websites, patients may have little reason come think this tea is in reality a version of morphine. The authors urge clinicians to far better familiarize themselves v poppy seed tea and to education patients and their families about this look at innocuous drink.

It is also important that our government and also regulatory agencies understand the potential threats of poppy seeds tea and also work to close this loophole. Poppy seeds remain an essential ingredient in baking but few bakers purchase 10-pound sacks of poppy seed every few days. There need to be means to fix the murky legal standing of poppy seeds and also to recommend patients who might be tempted come brew poppy seeds tea together a “healthful alternative” to various other analgesics.

This case study demonstrates the poppy seeds tea might be addictive, precipitate tap the money symptoms, and also require medical management. Since poppy seeds are readily accessible and may not it is in illegal, world may draw the conclusion the they are reasonably safe. Clinicians might not be mindful that poppy seeds tea might be provided for its psychoactive impacts or that it is so easily available.


Unwashed poppy seeds may contain adequate alkaloid residue to develop tea v a comprehensive morphine contents to the level that consistent users can develop dependence and opioid use disorder. Yet, unwashed poppy seeds in big quantities (5 or 10-pound sacks) are freely available online and also with no stigma or warnings, so consumer may think they are using a not authorised substance.


All named authors fulfill the international Committee of medical Journal editors (ICMJE) criteria because that authorship because that this article, take responsibility for the truth of the occupational as a whole, and also have given their approval for this version to be published.

Compliance with values Guidelines

This document describes a case report indigenous the author’s experience together with a summary of situation reports in the literature on poppy particle tea. The instance study reported below conforms to honest standards and also was carried out by scientifically standard investigators through the informed consent of the subject. The case studies pointed out in our review of the literary works on poppy seeds tea to be not carried out by these investigators.

Open Access

This article is spread under the regards to the creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 international License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and also reproduction in any medium, detailed you give suitable credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the an imaginative Commons license, and indicate if alters were made.

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