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What is Poppy Seed Tea?

Poppy seed tea is a drink made from soaking poppy seeds. Technically, it’s not a tea because it is not made by steeping leaves. It is sometimes used as a traditional remedy for pain or diarrhea. More often in the US, people brew it as an alternative to opioids. Poppy seeds are legal to buy and the drink is easy to prepare. The high is not typically as strong as prescription opioids, but it stays in your system for up to 24 hours.

Poppy seeds, of course, come from the same plant heroin is produced from, but heroin is produced from the gum inside poppy pods, not from seeds. The aim of poppy seed tea is to extract whatever gum–and thus, whatever opium–remains in the seeds. Given that it takes at least ten pounds of opium to produce one pound of heroin, poppy seed tea will never be as potent as heroin. People who want to get high from it try to make up for its lack of potency with volume. Since poppy seed tea stays in your system so long, the effects can accumulate as you drink more.

Poppy seed tea can be addictive, as it contains morphine and codeine. The real danger of poppy seed tea is that the concentrations of these drugs vary widely. Two batches may be prepared the exact same way, yet one batch could be 120 times stronger than the other. Poppy seeds sold commercially for baking are not tested for opiate content and different growing conditions cause different concentrations of morphine and codeine. Because of this, there is a risk of fatal overdose despite the relatively low potency of the average preparation. Death by overdose of poppy seed tea is generally caused by pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs.

Acute withdrawal from poppy seed tea usually lasts a week or two and it might take another two months to start feeling normal again. Since it’s long-acting, withdrawal lasts a bit longer than other opioids. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioids and include restlessness, insomnia, chills, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, depression, anxiety, and excessive yawning. It doesn’t really make sense to try to taper off poppy seed tea because the potency varies so massively.

It’s easy to dismiss poppy seed tea because it’s legal and easy to make. It seems a bit like an herbal remedy and sounds harmless, but it can be addictive and it can cause a fatal overdose. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to poppy seed tea or other opioids, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at to learn more.