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Uses, Benefits of Poppyseed Oil & Its Side Effects

Oil derived from the seeds of the poppy plant is known as poppyseed oil. The poppy plant, Papaver somniferum has been cultivated for thousands of years by humans for a wide variety of purposes. The primary purpose of growing poppies has been to produce opium, which is further used to manufacture drugs such as codeine and morphine.

The seeds of the poppy plant are also used in cooking, and poppyseed oil is known for having many varied uses as well. Poppyseed oil is primarily known for benefitting the skin. Read on to find out the many benefits of poppyseed oil.

Uses of Poppyseed Oil

Uses of Poppyseed Oil

You may find poppyseed oil at the strangest of places. This is because this oil is used for many a variety of items such as paints, varnishes, and even soaps. Poppyseed oil is high in vitamin E, is highly palatable, and also does not have any narcotic properties as many people often believe. Compared to other types of vegetable oils, poppyseed oils have a mild amount of phytosterols. This content is higher than what is found in peanut oil and soybean oil, but lower than sesame oil, corn oil, rice bran oil, and others.

Poppyseed oil also has a pleasant taste and does not have any detectable odor. This is why it is also less likely to become rancid than other oils.

The oil content of poppy seeds varies depending on where the plant originated and also depending on their color. Poppy seeds can be found in many different colors, such as blue, yellow, and white. On an average, poppy seeds yield 40-50 percent oil.(1, 2)

Poppyseed oil is typically manufactured by the cold-pressing method. Cold-pressing uses pressure to produce oil from the poppy seeds. There is no heat used in the manufacturing process.(3)

Let us take a look at the benefits of poppyseed oil.

Benefits of Poppyseed Oil

Poppyseed oil has many benefits due to being rich in antioxidant properties. It is highly beneficial for the skin and hair. While there is a lack of scientific evidence on how many of these benefits are actually correct, but there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence to support the uses of poppyseed oil.

Here are some of the benefits associated with poppyseed oil.

Poppyseed Oil is Rich in Antioxidants

Poppyseed oil is said to be rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals by neutralizing reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species are produced by the body as part of its normal metabolism. However, sometimes these reactive oxygen species can cause damage to the cells, leading to conditions such as diabetes or cancer.(4, 5, 6)

A 2013 research by the University of Karachi in Pakistan found evidence of strong antioxidant activity of poppyseed oil.(7) It is worth noting that the antioxidant activity of poppyseed oil is less than the other oils that the researchers tested. For example, mustard seed, fenugreek seed, and ajwain seed oils were found to have more antioxidant activity when compared to poppyseed oil.

Another study in 2009 found that poppyseed was rich in alpha and gamma-tocopherol.(8) Tocopherols are naturally occurring forms of vitamin E, and they are also potent antioxidants.

More research is still needed to find out more about the antioxidant effects of poppyseed oil.

Benefits For Skin and Hair

Poppyseed oil is known to be rich in many types of fatty acids, but as of now, there is no substantial evidence to show that poppyseed oil can be used for such cosmetic purposes.

Nevertheless, fatty acids are known to be beneficial in many types of topical applications.

Poppyseed oil is rich in the following fatty acids:

Oleic Acid: Oleic acid can help in wound healing. It also increases the absorbance of other compounds present with it when applied to the skin.(9)

Linoleic Acid: This fatty acid is essential for the body to maintain the water barrier of your skin. Linoleic acid cannot be produced naturally by the body and, therefore, has to be consumed in your diet. In fact, people who are deficient in linoleic acid can develop scaly skin lesions.(10)

Palmitic Acid: This is one of the most common saturated fatty acids found in the body.(11) It is also found in the skin. A study in 2010 found that the levels of palmitic acid begin to decrease as we age.(12)

Poppyseed Oil for Pain

Opium is another common substance that is derived from the poppy plant. Due to this, many people often assume that poppyseed oil also has certain pain-relieving properties. However, there is no research to show that poppyseed oil has pain-relieving features.

This is primarily because poppyseed oil extracted from poppy seeds do not contain any traces of opium. Opium is derived from the poppy pods, or more specifically from the milky white rubber-like substances present inside the poppy pods. Opium is not derived from the poppy seeds, from which oil is extracted.

Are There Any Side Effects of Poppyseed Oil?

It is very rare to hear of any side effects from poppyseed oil. However, some people are allergic to poppy seeds, and therefore, might also be allergic to poppyseed oil.(13)

If you develop an allergic reaction to poppyseed oil, then stop using it immediately. If you are allergic to this oil, then it is prudent to be on the lookout for anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency. Here are the symptoms of anaphylaxis:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Hives
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Swelling in the face or throat
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and cramping

Some people may also experience skin irritation after applying poppyseed oil. To avoid this, it is always better to do a patch test first. You should use a little bit of the poppyseed oil on your elbow to check whether there are any reactions before you start applying larger amounts. If you experience pain, itching, or redness in that area, then you should discontinue the use of this oil.


Poppyseed oil is a beneficial oil that is derived from the seeds of the poppy plant. It is commonly used in the manufacturing of products such as paints and soaps. However, there is minimal research available on whether poppyseed oil really offers so many health benefits. Nevertheless, the studies that have been done definitely found that poppyseed oil does contain high levels of antioxidants and is also rich in several fatty acids.

These findings seem to suggest that poppyseed oil might indeed be beneficial if applied topically. Before you start to use this oil, though, it is recommended that you perform a patch test to check for any allergic reactions to the oil as poppyseed oil is known to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people. If you are in doubt about whether to use poppyseed oil or not, then it is always better to consult your doctor about it first.


  1. Azcan, N., Kalender, B.O. and Kara, M., 2004. Investigation of Turkish poppy seeds and seed oils. Chemistry of Natural Compounds, 40(4), pp.370-372.
  2. Hort.purdue.edu. (2020). Papaver somniferum. [online] Available at: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Papaver_somniferum.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020].
  3. Energy, E. (2020). Heated Vs Cold Oil Press – Different Methods of Extracting Oil. [online] EPUS Global Energy. Available at: https://epusenergy.com/heated-vs-cold-oil-press-different-methods-of-extracting-oil/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2020].
  4. Schumacker, P.T., 2006. Reactive oxygen species in cancer cells: live by the sword, die by the sword. Cancer cell, 10(3), pp.175-176.
  5. Gupta, S.C., Hevia, D., Patchva, S., Park, B., Koh, W. and Aggarwal, B.B., 2012. Upsides and downsides of reactive oxygen species for cancer: the roles of reactive oxygen species in tumorigenesis, prevention, and therapy. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 16(11), pp.1295-1322.
  6. Padgett, L.E., Broniowska, K.A., Hansen, P.A., Corbett, J.A. and Tse, H.M., 2013. The role of reactive oxygen species and proinflammatory cytokines in type 1 diabetes pathogenesis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1281(1), p.16.
  7. Ishtiaque, S., Khan, N., Siddiqui, M.A., Siddiqi, R. and Naz, S., 2013. Antioxidant potential of the extracts, fractions and oils derived from oilseeds. Antioxidants, 2(4), pp.246-256.
  8. Erinç, H., Tekin, A. and Özcan, M.M., 2009. Determination of fatty acid, tocopherol and phytosterol contents of the oils of various poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) seeds. Grasas y Aceites, 60(4), pp.375-381.
  9. Lin, T.K., Zhong, L. and Santiago, J.L., 2018. Anti-inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(1), p.70.
  10. Whelan, J. and Fritsche, K., 2013. Linoleic acid. Advances in Nutrition, 4(3), pp.311-312.
  11. Carta, G., Murru, E., Banni, S. and Manca, C., 2017. Palmitic acid: physiological role, metabolism and nutritional implications. Frontiers in physiology, 8, p.902.
  12. Carta, G., Murru, E., Banni, S. and Manca, C., 2017. Palmitic acid: physiological role, metabolism and nutritional implications. Frontiers in physiology, 8, p.902.
  13. Patel, A. and Bahna, S.L., 2016. Hypersensitivities to sesame and other common edible seeds. Allergy, 71(10), pp.1405-1413.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 5, 2020

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