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5 things you might not know about poppies

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While most Canadians wear the poppy as an important symbol of respect and reverence each Remembrance Day, the poppy itself also has amazing health benefits, a rich history in Greek mythology, and was even the subject of espionage warning from the U.S. Department of Defence. And yes: the drug rumours are true. Here are five things most people don’t know about poppies.

1. Your morning poppy seed muffin can make you fail a drug test

If you have to take a drug test in a few days time, you better skip your morning poppy seed muffin. The rumours are true: poppy seeds can make you test positive for heroin. Opiates, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, can be traced in urine samples for as long as two days after consuming the seeds in various forms. While “milking” latex from seedpods, which are the plant’s unripe fruits, produces the drug opium, alkaloids like morphine and codeine are still present in all parts of the plant and can be detected in drug tests. You don’t want to relive Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes’s nightmare of missing out on a trip to Africa for merely enjoying her favourite poppy seed muffins.

2. Poppy seeds contain amazing health benefits

Poppy seeds (and poppy seed paste) might be best known for adding flavour and texture to breads, cakes, cookies, bagels, and strudels, they also have plenty of health benefits. The seeds are chock-full of healthy fatty acids like omega-3 and oleic acid, which studies show is helpful in treating breast cancer. They’ve also been known to treat insomnia, diarrhea, whooping cough, and asthma. So there youhave it: at least three good reasons to eat a lemon poppy seed muffin everyday.

3. Canada’s special “poppy” quarters lead to a false espionage warning from the U.S. Department of Defense

In 2004 the Canadian mint introduced a special quarter with a red poppy stamped on the reverse to commemorate Remembrance Day. While U.S. Army contractors were travelling inCanada, they saw the suspicious coins and filed confidential espionage accounts about them. It was thought that the coloured quarters were filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology. That “nano-technology,” however, was actually common protective coating the Mint applied to the coins to prevent the red colour from wearing off. Whoops!

The quarters were the world’s first coloured circulation coin. In 2008 and 2010, the mint again released limited-edition coins with the red symbol printed on the reverse.

4. In Greek mythology, poppies were used as symbols of sleep and death

In ancient Greece, the poppy was associated with the god of sleep, Hypnos, and the god of dreams, Morpheus. The drug morphine, got its name from Morpheus. Hypnos and his twin brother,Thanatos, the god of death, were also depicted wearing a crown of poppies. Demeter, the god of war, created the poppy so she could sleep, and in many myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. In modern days, this symbolism is still present. For instance, in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a magical poppy field almost causes the gang to sleep forever.

5. Poppy pastes and oils are great for skin

In traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine, poppy seeds can be ground into a paste with milk to form a revitalizing moisturizer. The paste acts as a powerful cooling agent that’s beneficial when lowering increased body temperature. If you’re suffering from an external prickling sensation, it’s recommended to rub the plant’s root on the itchy area.