Health benefits of poppy seeds include its effect on neural systems and brain, treatment of cancer, treatment of skin diseases, as painkiller, as body tonic, good source of fiber, as source of vital nutrients. Poppy seed also finds its medicinal use as expectorant (promotes secretion of sputum, treating cough), sudorific (causes sweating), sedative, nervine tonic (to calm nerves), aphrodisiac, used in internal hemorrhages, diarrhea, dysentery.
Poppy seeds are generally seeds of plant Opium Poppy (Papaver Somniferum). The cultivation of opium poppy has been done traditionally for centuries. Records dated over 5000 years ago show that poppy was cultivated then. It finds its use in several folk medicines and is referred in ancient medicinal texts. It has been used as sedative and promoting fertility since ancient times. Today, it is popular ingredient in Asian and European cuisines.
Poppy seeds are also known as Pavot Somnifre (French), Mohn(German), Adormidera(Spanish), Khas khas (Hindi and some Asian languages). Other common names include Blue bread seed poppy, Mawseed, White poppy, Oopiumunikko, Plant of joy, posta. It also gets name from place of origin based on variety like Holland poppy seed, Hungarian poppy seed, Indian Khas Khas, Himalayan poppy.
Poppy plant is around 2 meters in height. Poppy seed flowers are lilac, blue, red or white in colour and subsequently turn into oval shaped poppy fruit bud. Opium drug is obtained from latex of fruit bud. The bud bears small tiny seeds when dried.
Uses of poppy seeds
Poppy seed finds it use as spice or garnishing food. It is added to food to provide colour, texture and taste. As poppy seed paste or poppy seed extract is forms part of food and offering nutty taste to recipes. Whole poppy seeds are sprinkled on some food, mainly baked and fried foods.
In India, Iran and Turkey poppy seeds or khas khas are added to baking bread. In European cuisine, it is consumed as whole poppy seeds or milled poppy seeds. Lemon poppy seed muffins are very popular in American and Europe. Poppy seed pastry, macroni with poppy seeds are popular in some parts of northern Europe and Russia. Kūčios is popular Lithuania and Eastern Slovakia Christmas Eve dinner with poppy seeds. Pastries filled with poppy seed paste, poppy seed hamantashen are eaten by Jews during Purim. Popular Munn pastries are made from poppy seed.
Poppy seeds oil made by cold pressing poppy seeds is commercial used for culinary, industrial and medicinal purpose.
Nutritional value of Poppy seed
Poppy seeds are good source of Omega-6 fatty acids and dietary fibers. Poppy seeds provide 31% by weight of Omega-6 fatty acids mainly linolenic acid and small quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid. Dietary fibers and Protein form 21% and 20% by weight respectively. Protein includes all major amino acids required and suggests that it is a complete or high-quality protein.
Poppy seed also contains various phytochemicals which impart health benefits to poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are good source of Vitamin B – Thiamin and Calcium and Manganese. A table spoon of poppy seeds contain Calcium (13%), Iron, Zinc (5% of DV), Magnesium, Phosphorus, copper (7-8% ), Manganese (29%)and minor quantity of Selenium. [% indicates percentage of dietary value]
Health benefits of Poppy Seeds
Indian traditional medicine, Ayurveda uses poppy seeds to treat skin diseases and as sedative. Paste of milk soaked poppy seed is applied to skin as moisturizer and treat skin diseases. In Ayurvedic medicine, the seeds are considered aphrodisiac, constipating, and tonic. Iranians used poppy seed for epistaxis or nose bleeding.
Benefits of poppy seed can be attributed to its properties as analgesic, anodyne, cough suppressant, aphrodisiac, astringent (shrink tissues), anti bacterial, calm nerves, prevent flatulence, demulcent (reduce mucus), skin softening and smooting, expectorant, stop bleeding, hypotensive (reduce blood pressure), sedative, sudorific(increase sweating) and tonic. Some of the health benefits of poppy seeds are found below.
Seducing the nervous system
Dried poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine, thebaine, codiene, papaverine etc. When consumed in food, these compounds produce a minimal effect when consumed on the human nervous system. On the contrary, the chemicals have beneficial effects on the human body; soothe nervous irritability, sedative against irritant coughing and sleeplessness.
Home remedy for curing insomnia
Ever had a poppy seed pastry or poppy seed meal at lunch and you found strong desire to sleep after lunch? You should blame poppy seed for that. People have been using poppy seed for treating sleep disorders. Drinking warm milk with poppy seed paste before going to bed is good for sound sleep and treating insomnia. Poppy seed works on calming nerves and inducing sleep.
Tackle pain with Poppy seed
Opium alkaloids in Poppy seeds also act as pain killer. Poppy seed is beneficial relieving muscular and neuralgic pain. Poppy seeds can be used to cure Ear and Tooth aches. Poppy seeds have helped ancient man fight pain. Opium poppy was one of the first plants man found for relieving pain.
Rejuvenate body with poppy seed
Poppy seeds has been considered body tonic in Ayurveda. It has qualities to increase appetite. It supplies body with Vitamin B – Thiamine and minerals like manganese and calcium. A wide range of amino acids in poppy seeds is essential in body processes. Milkshake / juice containing poppy seed is considered refreshing and a tonic.
Poppy seeds are good source of dietary fibers. It contains 20-30% dietary fiber by weight. 200 gram of poppy seeds would supply you daily dietary fiber required. These fibers are good for bowel movements and treat constipation.
Treating Respiratory disorders
Property of poppy seed as expectorant and demulcent is good for treating respiratory disorders. It helps in reducing cough and along with sedative effect provides long lasting relief. It finds therapeutic use in various cough syrups.) Though it is mildly inflammatory in nature, it helps in treatment of asthma and cough.
Anti Cancer properties
Omega -3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in Poppy seeds are considered having anti cancer properties. In his book, Plants used against cancer, Hartwell mentions opium poppy mentions opium as a remedy for conditions in cancer of the skin, stomach, tongue, uterus, breast, liver, spleen.
Research shows that Oleic acid, present in poppy seed reduces risk of cancers and tumors. A research shows that lipidol in poppy seed binds itself to hepatocellular cancer cells and prevent the spread of cancer. Similar Anticancer properties of poppy seed are being researched.
Studies on poppy seeds have shown that they possess considerable amount of anti-oxidants present in them. Anti-oxidants protect various organs and tissues from free radical attacks which damage DNA and cause cancer in severe instances.
Protect heart with poppy seeds
Omega -6 fatty acids in Poppy seed mainly Linolenic acid helps reduce bad cholesterol levels in body. Around 30-40% of poppy seed by weight contains such fatty acids. Research studies suggest that diet rich in Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids can reduce heart risk. Additionally, dietary fiber in poppy seed binds to bile salts and cholesterol in intestine and prevents their absorption in colon. There by reducing risk from cholesterol. Sedative impact of Poppy seed also helps in reducing blood pressure.
Reduces bone loss
According to some studies conducted on Poppy seeds, Linoleic acid, reduces calcium loss from bone associated with Osteoporosis, porosis. Further it also contains considerable amount of dietary calcium.
Linolec acid in poppy seed helps treat eczema. In Ayurveda, poppy seed are considered good for skin; it acts as moisturizer and provides smooth and soft skin. Milk or water soaked poppy seed can be grind along with lime juice to form a smooth poppy seed skin paste. This paste is used externally for treating burning sensation, itchs. With pain killer effect, it is also helpful in relieving pain in case of some inflammation. Opium seeds are effective reducing dark patches under eyes.
Opium seeds are very effective in treating asthma. A spoon of the opium seeds are ground and consumed regularly for curing asthma.
Poppy seed is believed to have mild anti bacterial property. Research is still active to establish this property.
Poppy seed test for vesical fistula
Poppy seed test is simple and inexpensive test for vesicointestinal fistula. This test requires patient to eat poppy seeds; in case urine sample shows presence of poppy seeds, a colovesical or related fistula is confirmed. Some medical references of such test is well documented. [1, 2]
Home remedy for diarrhea and dysentery
Dry roasted poppy seed can help relieve Diarrhea and dysentery. Powdered roasted poppy seed along with sugar and cardamom helps treat diarrhea. Along with honey, poppy seed is used as home remedy to treat dysentery.
Powdered khas khas along with milk helps reduce stomach pain and dehydration in diarrhea and dysentery. Fibers in poppy seed are also helpful in this case.
Prevents formation of kidney stones
Poppy seeds help prevent formation of kidney stones. Oxalates in poppy seed absorb excess calcium in body and prevents their crystallization in kidney, thereby preventing kidney stones.
Suffering acidity? Use poppy seed
Cooling sensation provided by khas khas is considered good for treatment of acidity in ayurveda.
Cool your body with Khas Khas sharbat
Khas khas sharbat is popular drink in Asia. Opium poppy seed act as effective coolant for body and helps controlling body temperation.
Poppy seeds are considered good for increasing body immunity and preventing various diseases.
Poppy seed to increase your sexual stamina
Poppy seed is believed to be aphrodisiac in nature in various folk medicines. It is used to increase sex hormones and libido. Drinking milk with poppy seed powder before going to bed, is good way of energizing before the sexual act.
Benefits of poppy seed oil
Poppy seed oil is obtained from cold pressing dark, dry poppy seeds and used for salad dressing. This oil also has several health benefits. It is very good massage oil. It helps in relief of pain, reduces muscle spasms and provides good skin. It also supports good digestion. Poppy seed oil is used in various medicines for its health benefits. It is good source of omega 6 fatty acid and can be used as supplements for heart related diseases. Poppy seed oil is believed to increase fertility in women. Bathing with poppy seed oil is considered to increase chances of getting pregnant. This oil is used as base and carrier for iodine in pediatric medicine.
Benefits of poppy seed tea
Poppy seed herbal tea can be made by brewing poppy seed in water. Opium poppy seeds tea is used as home remedy for several ailments like insomnia, cough. It offers very similar property as the poppy seed itself.
Other benefits of poppy seed
Poppy seed is also helpful in treating internal haemorrhages, flatulence, goiter, malaria, conjunctivitis, neuralgia, ulcers, tumors, warts, tooth ache, hysteria, hypertension, nose bleeding, nausea, etc.
Side effects of poppy seeds
Precuation need to be taken while use of poppy seed, as many people can be intolerant to its consumption. Intake in excess should be avoided.
Poppy seeds are less allergic among seeds and nuts. They can be used safely even in pregnant women and children.
Though it doesn’t contain any banned opiate like morphine or codeine, it reacts to drug tests. Consuming poppy seed food will test falsely positive to drug screening and other narcotic drug test.
Be careful if you consumed poppy seed pastry of poppy seed bagel and are travelling to countries where above drug test can be done at airport. Some countries like Saudi Arabia have banned poppy seed and so should be avoided.
Recipes using Poppy seed
Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf
- Take a large bowl. Mix 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 cup of sugar. Beat them till you find the mixture light an fluffy.
- Add two eggs and beat them well
- Take another bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, add 3-4 table spoons of poppy seeds. Add 1 table spoon of grated lemon skin rind. Add a teaspoon of baking powder. Add some salt for taste. Mix the mixture well with one half cup of milk.
- Add this mixture to butter and egg mixture You can add both mixtures part by part so as to handle properly. Mixing should result in uniform dough.
- Grease your loaf pan.
- Spread the mixture in the pan.
- Bake till 160 degree Celcius or 325 degree Fahrenheit. Or until you find the mixture is baked well from within.
- In another bowl, take one third cup of lemon juice. Add half cup of sugar and some grated lemon rind. Microwave it till sugar dissolves.
- If you are suffering from cough, add pinch of fresh grated ginger if you want.
- In a serving plate, place the loaf in center. Pour the lemon syrup over it .
- Allow the loaf to cool in for 30 minutes.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Ingredients: Three tablespoons of poppy seed, 200 grams of granulated sugar, two lemons for juice and zest, two eggs, one cup of yoghurt, one cup of milk, quarter teaspoon of vanilla paste or vanilla essence, two cups of flour, half teaspoon sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, one tablespoon baking powder, salt for taste, 150 grams of butter.
- Preheat oven around 180 degrees Celsius.
- In a bowl combine sugar and lemon zest.
- In another bowl combined lemon juice, eggs, yogurt, milk and vanilla. Whisk rigourously under blended.
- Add baking soda, baking powder, sugar and lemon zest. Mix some salt as per taste. Stir the mixture well until uniformly combined.
- Mix poppy seeds and butter and combine mixture gently.
- Use a large spoon to pour it in muffin cups.
- Bake in oven for 25 -30 minutes or until the muffins turn golden brown, firm and springy.
- Allow pan to cool
- Unmould muffins and serve
- You may mix honey, poppy seed and lemon juice and brush over the muffins while you serve to enhance the flavor.
Based on Lucy Chapman recipeImage Credits: Wikimedia, Flickr - Foodista, Lucy Chapman