Can eating poppy seeds affect drug test results? An addiction and pain medicine specialist explains

The U.S. Protection Section issued a memo on Feb. 17, 2023, warning service users to steer clear of consuming poppy seeds because performing so may well consequence in a good urine check for the opiate codeine. Dependancy and agony medication expert Gary Reisfield describes what affects the opiate content material of poppy seeds and how they could affect drug tests.

What are poppy seeds?

Poppy seeds occur from a species of poppy plant known as Papaver somniferum. “Somniferum” is Latin for “rest-bringing,” which hints that it might have opiates – effective compounds that depress the central anxious system and can induce drowsiness and sleep.

There are two principal takes advantage of for the opium poppy. It is a resource of the opiates made use of in painkillers, the most biologically lively of which are morphine and codeine. Its seeds are also made use of for cooking and baking.

Poppy seeds themselves don’t have opiates. But through harvesting, the seeds can turn into contaminated with opiates contained in the milky latex of the seed pod masking them.

Close-up of opium poppy heads with drops of opium milk latex leaking from the pod.
The milky latex of poppy seed pods consists of opiates.
Daniel Prudek/iStock by means of Getty Pictures Moreover

What has an effect on opiate content in poppy seeds?

Many factors identify the opiate concentrations and ratios of poppies. As with wine grapes, the opiate profile of the poppy plant – and so its seeds – is impacted by its terroir: weather, soil, amount of money of sunshine, topography and time of harvest.

Yet another element is the wide range or cultivar of the plant. For example, there are genetically engineered opium poppies that create no morphine or codeine and other folks that create no opium latex at all.

Can you get superior from consuming poppy seeds?

Basically talking, you can’t consume adequate poppy seeds to get you superior. On top of that, processing substantially decreases opiate articles – for instance, by washing or cooking or baking the seeds.

Do poppy seeds impact drug assessments?

Poppy seeds do not have virtually more than enough opiates to intoxicate you. But because drug assessments are exquisitely sensitive, consuming particular poppy seed meals products can lead to good urine drug exam final results for opiates – exclusively for morphine, codeine or equally.

Underneath most instances, opiate concentrations in the urine are much too small to produce a beneficial take a look at final result. But sure meals goods – and it’s typically impossible to know which kinds, since opiate content material does not appear on foods labels – contain ample opiates to deliver favourable examination benefits. Additionally, for the reason that of overlap in opiate concentrations and morphine-to-codeine ratios, it can occasionally be tough to distinguish examination outcomes that are thanks to the use of poppy seeds from people that are thanks to the use of opiate medicines.

Bowl and scoop of poppy seeds
Processing poppy seeds decreases the opiate written content that may perhaps be on the seed.
Burcu Atalay Tankut/Moment by using Getty Photos

This is not a issue with most workplace drug screening. Exam effects are reviewed by a specifically skilled health practitioner called a clinical overview officer. Unless the physician finds evidence of unauthorized opiate use, this kind of as needle marks or indications of opiate intoxication or withdrawal, even reasonably superior concentrations of opiates in the urine that deliver constructive exam results are generally dominated to be adverse.

It turns out, nevertheless, that drug screening in the navy is unique, and poppy seeds pose potential complications. One particular such dilemma, as highlighted in latest news reports, problems assistance associates who check optimistic for codeine and assert a “poppy seed protection.” They are nonetheless regarded as having taken codeine, from time to time with really serious repercussions, these kinds of as a disciplinary action or discharge from the services.