Unwashed Poppy Seeds For Tea Contain Opioid Alkaloids


Unwashed poppy seeds sold for making tea are typically clean. However, unwashed ones contain higher levels of opioid alkaloids that can be used to create psychoactive substances with severe side effects that could even prove fatal. Get the Best information about Poppy pods.

After Stephen Hacala’s death, attempts were made to restrict online poppy seed sales, but their effectiveness remains uncertain.

Medicinal Uses

Poppy seed tea is an increasingly popular medicinal beverage in many countries for pain relief. Suppose the poppy seeds used are improperly processed and contain opioid alkaloids that could prove fatal. A study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences investigated a case involving an individual who died after drinking home-brewed poppy seed tea that contained unwashed poppy seeds contaminated with opioid alkaloids; results demonstrated how dirty seeds can produce lethal doses of morphine.

Unwashed poppy seeds are widely available online and used in homemade teas that may be taken medicinally or recreationally. Opiate concentrations depend on the batch of poppy seeds used and how they were extracted. Too much poppy seed tea consumption can lead to opioid toxicity and opioid use disorder.

Recent fatal overdoses involving unwashed poppy seeds purchased online and explicitly labeled as such were traced back to Sam Houston State University assistant professor Madeleine Swortwood’s analysis, which revealed dirty seeds can be soaked in water to extract opiate alkaloids and become potency enough to cause a fatal overdose.

Poppy seed tea preparation usually calls for soaking many seeds for up to 12 hours in water or boiling them, increasing concentrations of opiate alkaloids significantly in the final product. If cooked, this process may further boost opiate alkaloid engagement.

Swortwood’s research was inspired by the death of a 21-year-old man who consumed home-brewed poppy seed tea containing opiates, leading to his demise. His family signed a petition asking the FDA to end sales of poppy seeds that may contain contaminants.

Researchers developed an effective methodology using micro-solid phase extraction (MSPE) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to quantify five opium alkaloids found in poppy seed tea accurately. Adsorption levels, pH levels, cycles, and elution solvents were optimized for low detection limits and accurate quantification accuracy.


Poppy seeds that have been washed and used in baked goods are safe to consume, while those sold for use in tea can contain hazardous levels of opiates. While opiate concentrations vary from batch to batch, seed coats often include morphine or other opioids that could prove lethal – unwashed poppy seeds brewed into tea may produce similar effects as heroin and codeine and lead to dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

Unwashed poppy seeds can be purchased online and advertised as having high concentrations of opiates, targeting consumers looking to make poppy seed tea for medicinal or recreational consumption. Many sellers also provide instructions on how to brew poppy seed tea, which increases its opiate contents further. Studies have demonstrated that even just one serving can result in an opioid overdose.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has made efforts to raise public awareness about the toxicity of poppy seeds used for tea making, which may not be widely known. She encourages consumers to avoid purchasing these seeds in stores or online platforms like Amazon.

At the beginning of 2018, an Arkansas family met with members of Congress after their son died after drinking poppy seed tea. An autopsy revealed high levels of morphine and codeine in his system; detectives also discovered a bag full of unwashed poppy seeds near his body.

At the clinic where Sam sought treatment for opioid use disorder, staff described a patient who regularly brewed and drank poppy seed tea to get high. Over time, this man developed a physical and psychological dependence on the substance; when not drinking the tea, he would experience withdrawal symptoms when not partaking. Sam himself had low self-esteem despite working professionally in design as a designer while running his family business successfully.


Poppy seed tea is an increasingly popular substance among those seeking opioid dependence and may be misused to achieve it. Most recipes for this kind of beverage involve large amounts of seeds that have the potential for opioid misuse and abuse. Unwashed poppy seeds can be purchased in bulk online and brewed into an intoxicating drink with psychoactive effects that lead to withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopped; clinicians must remain mindful of this growing issue to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of opiate abuse in their patients.

Unwashed poppy seeds have recently been linked to several deaths across the US. These seeds contain the opium alkaloids morphine, codeine, and thebaine, which attract drug users who aim to extract these opioids and use them in poppy seed tea (PST), which has caused overdoses and deaths.

Crushing or grinding poppy seeds releases oily residue that can then be boiled in water to make tea, which is then consumed for psychoactive effects or used as an opiate replacement for drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and acetaminophen. The amount and method of extraction used can determine its opiate content, while dosage requirements depend on each user.

Poppy seed tea consumption is on the rise in the United States. From 2000-2018, more and more cases reported to National Poison Data Systems and FDA increased. Victims typically consist of young males aged from 14-21.

Stephen Hacala, the father of a man who died after eating five-pound bags of unwashed poppy seeds purchased from Walmart stores, is pleased that this issue has now been brought before Congress for legislative resolution. However, Amazon and other online vendors continue selling these seeds with various health claims despite possibly lethal amounts of Schedule II drugs present within these products.


Growing or owning nearly any part of the poppy plant is illegal, except for washed poppy seeds used in baked goods and salad dressings. Unfortunately, some individuals purchase these seeds to use in dangerous tea for recreational use or relieving pain/symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Unfortunately, these seeds can easily be found online in large quantities without restrictions and could quickly become accessible for individuals looking for quick fixes of opioid withdrawal medication.

Poppy seed tea contains similar opiates as heroin and can be highly addictive and toxic if consumed regularly. As such, it is imperative to avoid all forms of this substance, especially powdered versions; several people have died from drinking poppy seed tea over recent years, according to National Poison Data System statistics from 2000-2018.

Following these deaths, lawmakers and federal agencies have begun taking measures to regulate vendors who offer unwashed poppy seeds for sale online. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued letters to executives at several major online retailers asking them not to sell dirty poppy seeds for tea.

Madeleine Swortwood, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Sam Houston State University’s Department of Forensic Science, has identified unwashed seeds as being in the gray zone between food products and drugs because of both classification and composition; she found they can be used to make tea with potentially lethal levels of THC present.

Swortwood emphasizes the need for doctors to remain mindful of patients who might be using dangerous substances like opioids to alleviate pain or get high, especially given the opioid use disorder crisis. She is concerned about dependence and recommends treatment if someone with known or suspected addiction to opioids seeks care.

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