Home Brewed Death Tea

Poppy seed tea has potentially lethal consequences according to a new paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Researchers at Sam Houston State University decided to look into home-brewed poppy seed tea and its lethality.

Deaths attributable to opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and account for the six out of every ten overdose deaths. Whereas heroin and opiate-containing medications have been the primary source of addictions and deaths, it seems that brewing tea from unwashed poppy seeds can also kill.

The opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) has been cultivated for centuries as a source of opium. Poppy seeds produced from the poppy plant produce a milky sap containing opiates. Poppy seed tea is made by washing or soaking the seeds in water. Opium is contained within the seed capsule and also contains a variable mixture of alkaloids, including roughly ten percent morphine, 6 percent noscapine, one percent papaverine, 0.5 percent codeine and 0.2 percent thebaine.

How lethal ingestion of opiates can depend on individual tolerance which develops rapidly with long-term use. As the authors of the study point out, “The level of information that is shared online contributes to the facilitation of drug abuse practices such as extracting opium alkaloids by brewing poppy seed tea,” and they add, “However, this practice can have fatal consequences.”

Professor Madeleine Swortwood, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University, was contacted by the parent of a young man who died after drinking home-brewed PST.

Read more at American Council on Science and Health