Poppy seed is an oil seed obtained from the poppy (Papaversomniferum) flower; they are small, oval shaped, slate blue or white colored seeds which grow inside the globes of a poppy plant. Ancient civilizations are known to have grown poppy flowers for their medicinal properties like the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Minoans and Sumerians. In Sumeria, poppy flowers were called “joy plant” for their sedative and euphoric properties. Poppy seeds are rich in oil, carbohydrates, calcium and protein,and they can contain or carry opium alkaloids. Poppy seeds have a variety of culinary uses such as pastes, oil, tea, dessert filling, and decoration and also a thickening agent in many soups (especially the white seeds). Poppy products are also used in different paints, varnishes, medicine and some cosmetics.
Relaxing the body and the mind
The poppy seed is mentioned in ancient medical texts from many civilizations. Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. In the Minoans civilization Poppies were given to fussy babies in order to calm them down and help with sleep. Poppy seeds contain small quantities of both morphine and codeine, which are pain-relieving alkaloids that act as neuro-stimulators as they have natural pain killing properties. When taken in small quantities, they help in soothing neural discomfort and are beneficial to the body. For this very reason poppy seeds were used in many herbal drug preparations. Poppy seeds and fixed oils can also be non-narcotic because when they are harvested about twenty days after the flower has opened, the morphine is no longer present.
The meaning of “somniferum” in the plant’s name is “sleep inducing” and according to Ayurvedic medicine, poppy seeds can serve as a natural sedative and sleep aid. They are used to make a calming beverage by steeping the seeds with other healing ingredients, like coconut powder, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and ghee. It’s believed that poppy seeds help induce relaxation and promote restful sleep because of their trace amount of narcotics. In addition to their calming quality, they are valued for nourishing the reproductive organs, protecting bones and skin, soothing tense muscles, clearing the nasal passageways, and relieving burning and constipation.
Adding Poppy seeds to your cuisine can be a great nutritional option as they are a rich source of thiamin, folate, and several essential minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. Buy fresh, as the seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, which make them vulnerable to oxidation and turn rancid. Poppy seeds are tasteless until roasted, when they take on a nutty flavor. Poppy seeds may be fried in ghee or butter and drizzled over your favorite dishes. A delicious paste can be made by combining roasted poppy seeds with honey. The pastes may be flavored with lemon or orange zest or spices like fennel, saffron, cardamom and nutmeg that combine well with the seeds flavor wise. Beware that consuming large quantities of poppy seed may cause digestive issues due to blocking the bowels.
Color: Black/ Blue/ White
Taste: Astringent, Sweet
Natural Attributes: Oily, Heavy
Dosha impact: Kapha +, Pitta -, Vata –
Tissue impact (Vipak): Nourishing
Thermal impact (Virya): Cooling
Digestive impact (Agni): Relatively easy to digest
Moves energy: Downward, Inwards
Channels (Srotas): Blocks
Strength (Bala): Improves strength and immunity
Sturdiness (Ojas): +
Mind (Manas): Tamasic
Occasion: Autumn, all year
Nutrient: Thiamine, Calcium , Iron
Chinese medicine syndromes: Calm the Heart
- Blood-circulation-liver: Styptic
- Muscles: Muscle relaxant
- Nervous system: Sedative , Nervine
- Reproductive and hormonal systems: Increase sexual potency
- Immunity: Analgesic
- Vital essence and strength: Builds stamina
- Mental: Hipnotic, Anodyne
- Respiratory system: Antitussive
- Digestive system: Constipating