Poppy Seed Tea has become extremely popular, as people are looking for herbal teas to help with pain, anxiety and insomnia. Poppy seed tea is made from the seeds of the opium poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. This plant naturally produces opiates as a defense mechanism against predators.
The Papaver somniferum poppy flower includes several opiates. Here is a list of the primary opiate compounds found in the flower.
The primary opiate compound found in the poppy flower is morphine, and comprises ~ 12% of the compounds by weight. This compound acts directly on the central nervous system receptors to decrease feelings of pain. This compound is used to help decrease acute and chronic severe pain. Morphine is commonly used to create synthetic opiates such as heroin.
Codeine is another opiate that is used to treat mild to moderate pain and to treat severe cough. Some healthcare professionals even use it to help with diarrhea. Side effects can include constipation and drowsiness.
Papaverine is another opiate compound naturally found in the poppy flower, Papaver somniferum. Papaverine is commonly used to treat muscular spasms and rarely erectile dysfunction. It is primarily used to reduce spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.
Noscapine does not exhibit pain reducing properties. It is used for cough suppression. As a result it is usually prescribed as an antitussive. Noscapine has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties, and it has been studied for its effect on stopping the spread of cancer cells.
Oripavine is a major metabolite of Thebaine. It has the same pain reduction potential as morphine.
When individuals consume poppy seed tea, they are consuming all of these opiate alkaloids. This is the reason that the tea can become addictive and is encouraged to drink only occasionally.