What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Poppy Seeds

From bagels to muffins, poppy seeds are used to flavor and decorate an assortment of baked goods — but can eating poppy seeds cause any negative side effects? Poppy seeds are tiny oilseeds from the opium poppy, the same plant used to make opium and other opioid drugs (via Medical News Today). While the seeds do not actually contain any opium, they can absorb or become coated in the plant's opium extract during the harvesting process.

Since poppy seeds are thoroughly washed and cleaned before they are sold to consumers, eating a poppy seed bagel will not cause you to experience any of the effects of opioids. However, poppy seeds still contain trace amounts of opiates, which can be enough to make you fail a drug test by testing positive for opioids. Whether or not you receive a positive drug test result can depend on a variety factors, including the number of poppy seeds you eat, the type of drug test, and the time the seeds are ingested. That being said, it is possible to test positive for opioids after eating just one poppy seed muffin or bagel. 

Are unwashed poppy seeds dangerous?

However, not all poppy seed products are harmless. Poppy seed tea, which is marketed as a sleep aid and pain reliever, can give you an opioid high. That's because the tea is made from unwashed poppy seeds, which contain enough opiates to have an effect on you, since they haven't been washed or cleansed of their narcotic component (via Healthline). This is dangerous because unwashed poppy seeds aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means the amount of opiates in the seeds is unknown and can vary from one batch to the next.

"The purity of the 'active' ingredient can vary batch to batch, and there may be dangerous contaminates," Dr. Edward Bilsky, the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Washington and an expert in opioid pharmacology, told Healthline. "If there is enough morphine for a drug effect, then you have the same concerns for overdose that you would for any other strong opioid."