Poppy seed wash is really a drug, FDA says

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A product called Poppy Seed Wash is advertised as a natural alternative to opioids for relaxation and pain relief, but it’s really just an unlicensed drug, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The FDA posted a warning letter to the makers of the product, telling them to stop making medical claims and to stop selling it online.

“Your Poppy Seed Wash product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced use and, therefore, the product is a ‘new drug,’” the FDA says in its letter.

The internet is awash in sites offering “natural” alternatives to opioids, and the FDA has been trying to shut down those that are offering potentially dangerous products, such as the kratom plant.

Poppy Seed Wash is a beverage, generically known as poppy seed tea. The FDA classifies it as an unlicensed drug.

Poppy seeds can be a source of opiates. They don’t contain opiates themselves, but the pod of the plant they develop in does. Most of the seeds used in food are washed for this reason — washing removes any residue of the opiate-containing poppy fluid.

People who eat poppy seed bagels or muffins can fail drug tests.

But do-it-yourselfers trade tips on how to get unwashed seeds and use them to make tea or, in this case, a wash that they hope will contain enough opiate to have an effect. Poppy seeds themselves are legal for sale in the U.S.