Soaking and cooking poppy seeds can lower their morphine and codeine levels, but those undergoing drug testing may want to avoid them altogether.
The same opium poppy that people make heroine out of is the same opium poppy people make muffins and bagels out of. But the idea that poppy seeds could serve as the source of appreciable amounts of codeine/morphine was not given much credence despite the existence of the old European custom recommending to quiet a noisy baby by means of a poppy seed filled pacifier. Not given much credence until a mother tried giving her 6-month-old some strained milk she had boiled some poppy seeds in with the very best intentions of helping the child sleep better. It worked…a little too well, culminating in respiratory arrest, leading to governmental warnings that it's not a good idea.
The cases aren't limited to children. Evidently if you eat spaghetti with a half cup of poppy seeds on top, it can make you a little loopy.
So what's the upper limit of poppy seed consumption that's probably safe? About a teaspoon for every 7 pounds of body weight, so that means someone weighting about 150 pounds, or 70 kilos should probably not eat more than 7 tablespoons of raw poppy seeds at a time. Cooking may wipe out half of the morphine and codeine, though, so that gives you some more leeway when baking. If you soak the seeds for 5 minutes first, and then discard the water before adding them to your recipe you can eliminate another half if you're making some poppy seed filled pastry or something for kids. Otherwise, though, there shouldn't be any risk at usual levels of intake—unless, you're going in for a drug test, in which case you may want to avoid poppy seeds altogether.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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