Poppy Seeds

Scientific Name(S): Although a variety of members of the genus Papaver are called poppies, P. somniferum L. and p. bracteatum Lindl. are important commercially and medicinally. Family: Papaveraceae

Common Name(S): P. somniferum: Opium poppy, poppyseed poppy. P. bracteatum: Thebaine poppy, great scarlet poppy.

General Description
Poppy Seeds are tiny nuttytasting, bluegray seeds inside capsules on Papaver somniferum, a yellowishbrown opium plant indigenous to the Mediterranean.

Plant Description and Cultivation
An annual, reaching 30-120cm (1-4ft), the lobed leaves have a blue tinge. The flowers are white to purple; those of Papaver rhoeas, red. They grow up to 12cm (5in) in diameter. The Eastern wild varieties usually sport lilaccoloured blooms. Many wild species occur, such as the Corn Poppy (P. rhoeas), often seen in cornfields. Some varieties are grown ornamentally. When the flowers fade, a capsule remains, rounded and crowned with a star-shaped stigma. On drying, it splits, casting out myriad seeds in the winds. There are nearly one million seeds to the pound (0.5kg). Wild varieties flower from June to August, cultivated varieties in July.


Poppy Plants

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Geographical Sources

Poppies are native to Mediterranean regions, India, China, Turkey, and Iran. Today, Holland and Canada are the main producers of poppy seeds.

Uses (Traditional and Ethenic)
The seeds are an important food item, and contain healthy oils used in salads worldwide.
Poppy Seeds are used to flavor breads, cakes, rolls, and cookies in European and Middle Eastern cooking.Poppy seeds are widely consumed in many parts of central and eastern Europe. The sugared, milled mature seeds are eaten with pasta or they are boiled with milk and used as filling or topping on various kinds of sweet pastry. Some consider this cuisine tradition to have Pagan roots In Turkey, they are often ground and used in desserts. In India, the seeds are ground and used to thicken sauces and preparing different vegetable dishes.Sometimes they use the poppy seed paste in the prepatration of motton and chicken dishes too. The seeds are also used in noodle, fish, and vegetable dishes in Jewish, German, and Slavic cooking.Poppy seeds are widely used in Bengali cuisine.

Poppy Seeds are a classic addition to buttered egg noodles, fruit salad dressings, and fragrant yeast breads. Poppy Seeds add nutty flavor and texture to cookies, cakes, breads, strudels, pastry crusts, and pancake and waffle batters.

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Although the drug opium is produced by “milking” latex from the unripe fruits (“seed pods”) rather than from the seeds, all parts of the plant can contain or carry the opium alkaloids, especially morphin and codeine and they have several uses in the preparation of different types of drugs and medicines.

Constituents—The most important constituents of opium are the alkaloids, whichconstitute in good opium about one-fifth of the weight of the drug. No fewer than twenty-one have been reported.

The principal alkaloid, both as regards its medicinal importance, and the quantity in which it exists, is Morphine. Next to this, Narcotine and Codeine are of secondary importance. Among the numerous remaining alkaloids, amounting in all to about 1 per cent of the drug, are Thebaine, Narceine, Papaverine, Codamine and Rhoeadine.

Meconic acid exists to the extent of about 5 per cent combined with morphine. This acid is easily identified, and is important in toxicological investigation, as corroborative of the presence of opium.

Meconin and meconiasin exist in small quantity only. Mucilage, sugar, wax, caoutchouc and salts of calcium, and magnesiumare also contained in opium, and sulphuric acid is found in the ash. The presence of starch, tannin, oxalic acid and fat, common constituents of most plants, indicates adulteration, as these substances do not occur normally in the drug. Powdered poppy capsules stones, small shot, pieces of lead, gum, grape must, sugary fruits, and other mechanical impurities, have also been used as adulterants of opium. The drug should not contain more than 12 1/2 per cent of moisture.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Western poppy syrup is an anodyne and expectorant. Eastern poppy is an anodyne and narcotic. Cough mixtures and syrups are also made from this variety, which is further used as a poultice with chamomile. An infusion of seeds is said to help ear and tooth ache. The seeds have appetising qualities. The use and dangers of poppy plant derivatives, such as morphine, heroin and codeine, are well known. In the Middle Ages an anaesthetic was produced called ‘the soporific sponge’, an infusion made of poppy, mandrake, hemlock and ivy that was poured over a sponge and held under the patient’s nostrils.

Poppy seeds are effective for fever inflammation and irritation of the stomach. Powdered and mixed with honey they are a recommended cure for dysentery. The oil is used in soaps and in artists paints.

Poppy has been used to relax smooth muscle tone, making it useful in the treatment of diarrhea and abdominal cramping, and used as sedative analgesics and antitussives.

Hypnotic, sedative, astringent, expectorant, diaphoretic, antispasmodic.

The drug was known in very remote times and the Greeks and Romans collected it. It is probable that the physicians of the Arabian school introduced the drug into India, as well as into Europe. It was originally used only as a medicine, the practice of opium eating having first arisen, probably in Persia.

Opium is one of the most valuable of drugs, Morphine and Codeine, the two principal alkaloids, being largely used in medicine.

It is unexcelled as a hypnotic and sedative, and is frequently administered to relieve pain and calm excitement. For its astringent properties, it is employed in diarrhoea and dysentery, and on account of its expectorant, diaphoretic, sedative and antispasmodic properties, in certain forms of cough, etc.

Small doses of opium and morphine are nerve stimulants. The Cutch horsemen share their opium with their jaded steeds, and increased capability of endurance is observed alike in man and beast.

Opium and morphine do not produce in animals the general calmative and hypnotic effects which characterize their use in man, but applied locally, they effectually allay pain and spasm. Owing to the greater excitant action in veterinary patients, the administration of opium does not blunt the perception of pain as effectually as it does in human patients.

The British Pharmacopceia Tincture of Opium, popularly known as Laudanum, is made with 3 OZ. of Opium and equal parts of distilled water and alcohol, and for immediate effects is usually preferable to solid Opium. Equal parts of Laudanum and Soap Liniment make an excellent anodyne, much used externally.

Medicinal Uses:
In folk medicine poppy heads were used in poultices to cure earache and toothache and a remedy for facial neuralgia was to lay the warmed leaves on the skin.  Medieval doctors pounded the seeds with those of sea holly and mixed them with wine to make a lotion for washing the ears, eyes and nostrils of those suffering from insomnia.  Another cure was to mingle the juice with milk and other agents and make them into sleeping pills.  An infusion made from the powdered capsules of poppy was once applied externally to sprains and bruises and a poppy flower poultice applied to excessive redness of the skin.  A flower compress reduced inflammation and helped watering eyes and also helped to banish dark circles around the eyes.  Morphine, heroin, codeine and papaverine are all derived from the milk juice of the opium poppy.  One poppy product, laudanum, an addictive tincture of opium, was a universal cure-all, widely prescribed by doctors in the 19th century-its abuse celebrated by De Quincey, Coleridge and Baudelaire, among others. It was frequently administered to relieve pain and calm excitement, and was also used in bad cases of diarrhea and dysentery.  It has both hypnotic and sedative effects.  Opium tincture and extract may be used internally to treat depression.
TCM:  Contains the leakage of Lung qi: for chronic coughs; binds up the intestines: for chronic diarrhea and dysenteric disorders; Stabilizes the lower burner: for polyuria, spermatorrhea or vaginal discharge; Alleviates pain: for any kind of pain, especially that of the sinews, bones or epigastrium.

Pharmacological Effects: Morphine is a very strong analgesic; in fact, it is the standard by which all other analgesics are judged.  It raises the pain threshold and also reduces the pain reflex.  That is, even though the pain sensation is still perceived, it is no longer regarded as particularly uncomfortable.  Codeine has approximately 1/4 the analgesic effect of morphine.  Morphine and codeine are both hypnotics, but they induce only a light and restless sleep.  Morphine is a strong and highly selective respiratory depressant.  The dosage that acts in this manner is lower than an analgesic dosage.  Codeine’s effect on respiration is much weaker than that of morphine.  Also a strong cough suppressant.  Morphine causes peripheral vasodilation and histamine release, which can lead to orthostatic hypotension.  Morphine in very low doses causes constipation by increasing the resting tone and markedly decreasing propulsive contractions in the wall of the gut, while decreasing the secretion of digestive juices.  The constipating effect of opium is only really noticeable at the start of the treatment.  It soon diminishes and can if necessary be corrected with small doses of rhubarb or the like.


Side Effects of Poppy:

Poppy is known for its highly addictive qualities and has been associated with poisoning and demonstrating symptoms of sedation and sluggishness, and abdominal contractions.

Toxicology: The abuse potential of opium has had an enormous impact on most societies. Deaths due to respiratory depression have been reported and heroininduced deaths are reported commonly. As little as 300 mg of opium can be fatal to humans, although addicts tolerate 2000 mg over 4 hours. Death from circulatory and respiratory collapse is accompanied by cold, clammy skin, pulmonary edema, cyanosis and pupillary constriction. Thebaine has an LD50 of 20 mg/kg in mice.

Significant attention has been focused on the fact that morphine and codeine can be detected in significant amounts in urine following the Ingestion of foods prepared with poppy seeds. After the ingestion of three poppy-seed bagels, urinary codeine and morphine levels were 214 ng/ml and 2797 ng/ml, respectively after 3 hours. Analysis of poppy seeds indicated that an individual consuming a single poppy-seed bagel could ingest up to 1.5 mg of morphine and 0.1 mg of codeine. Opiates have been detected in urine more than 48 hours after the ingestion of culinary poppy seeds. These results confirm that a positive finding of morphine or codeine in urine may not always be due to the ingestion of drugs of abuse.

The Mexican poppy (Argemone mexicana) L. has been associated with poisoning, demonstrating symptoms of sedation, sluggishness and abdominal contractions in rats fed its seeds.

Culinary uses:
In India poppy seeds are usually ground with other spices and used to thicken curries for meat fish and vegetables. Poppy seeds are cooked with jaggery and coconut enveloped in a case of flaky pastry and deep fried to make a delicious sweet called karanji. They are also sprinkled over naan bread and cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. In Turkey poppy seeds are made into sweet halva and in the middle East they flavour bread and desserts.

Taste and Aroma
Poppy Seeds have a slightly nutty aroma and taste.

History/Region of Origin
Since antiquity, poppies have symbolized honor. Women in second century Crete cultivated poppy plants for opium and Hippocrates suggested opium in medicine. Islamic and Arabian countries used opium as a medicine and narcotic in the sixth century. By the 17th century, Asians used the poppy plant as an opiate. Europeans began trafficking the drug in the 19th century, culminating in the Opium Wars, in which China lost control of the industry. The Greeks used the seeds as flavoring for breads in the second century, and medieval Europeans used them as a condiment with breads.

Help taken from:en.wikipedia.org and www.culinarycafe.com


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