What Are Papaver Somniferum Pods Used For?


Quick Answer

Papaver somniferum pods are used to create legal and illegal opiate drugs, including opium, morphine, codeine, narcotine and heroin. The sap inside the seed pods is the source of the opiate, which is a powerful pain reliever and intoxicant. The dried seeds from the Papaver somniferum pods do not contain large amounts of the narcotic and are used in cooking, for animal feed and for their oil.

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Full Answer

Papaver somniferum is the scientific name for the opium poppy. Farmers harvest the sap directly from the pods while they are still green by scraping the pod with a knife to remove the sap. Producing specific drugs involves refining the sap and mixing it with other chemicals to create the right strength and form.

When Papaver somniferum pods that have grown to maturity and are allowed to dry and produce poppy seeds, the tiny, lightweight seeds separate easily from the crushed pods. The seeds provide flavor to baked goods and make a flavorful, nutty curry. Fodder made from poppy seed oil adds fat and minerals to the diet of farm animals. Poppy seed oil is an ingredient in some wood finishes and a flavoring in food products.

In folk medicine, dried Papaver somniferum pods form the basis for a tea purported to have a mild sedative effect. This practice is dangerous because the amount of opiate varies among seed pods. All parts of the opium poppy plant are a schedule 2 controlled substance in the United States except for the seeds.

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