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Poppy Seed Stroke

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water. When corporations cause food injuries, our food safety lawyers use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on helping families in food poisoning lawsuits and contaminated water lawsuits.

If you or someone you love was injured or died as a result of poppy seed tea use and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Our poppy seed lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your food poisoning.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

What Compensation Can I Recover for a Poppy Seed Stroke?

If you or a loved one suffered a stroke due to consuming poppy seed tea, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, also known as damages. For example:

Medical Expenses

Compensation for the medical costs associated with the stroke, including emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, therapy, and ongoing medical care.

Rehabilitation and Therapy

The costs of rehabilitative services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other necessary therapies to aid in recovery and improve functioning may be recoverable.

Lost Wages and Future Earnings

If the stroke resulted in a loss of income or earning capacity, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the wages lost during recovery and any future income that you could have earned had the stroke not occurred.

Pain and Suffering

Compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish caused by the stroke and its aftermath. This can include compensation for the impact on the individual’s quality of life, psychological effects, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Loss of Consortium

If the stroke resulted in a loss of companionship, support, and intimacy between you and your spouse or partner, the spouse or partner may be eligible for compensation for the loss of consortium.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the responsible party’s conduct was particularly egregious or demonstrated a willful disregard for the other’s safety, punitive damages may be awarded. These damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

The specific compensation and amount that can be recovered can depend on factors such as the jurisdiction, the severity of the stroke, and the impact on your life.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

The timeframe within which you must file a claim related to a stroke caused by poppy seeds can vary depending on the specific laws of the state in which you reside. This timeframe is determined by the statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit and is typically between one to three years. The clock usually starts running from the date the injury or illness occurred. This deadline is critical because if you miss it, you will likely lose your right to recover compensation.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Poppy Seed Strokes?

Determining liability for strokes caused by poppy seed tea can depend on the specific circumstances of the case. However, here are some parties that could potentially be held liable:

Manufacturers and Distributors

If the stroke occurred as a result of consuming contaminated or “unwashed” poppy seed tea, the manufacturers and distributors of the poppy seeds or poppy seed tea products may be held liable. This includes companies involved in growing, processing, packaging, and distributing the poppy seed tea products.

Retailers and Sellers

If a retailer or seller knowingly sold contaminated or unsafe poppy seed tea products, they may also bear liability for any resulting harm. This could include grocery stores, health food stores, online sellers, or any other entity selling the product.

Other Negligent Parties

Depending on the circumstances, other parties involved in the tea’s distribution chain can potentially be liable if their negligence or actions contributed to the stroke.

Proving liability in cases involving strokes caused by poppy seed tea can be complex. It typically requires establishing a direct causal link between the consumption of poppy seed tea and the resulting stroke.

History of Poppy Seeds

First cultivated in the first century AD, poppy seeds have been used in a variety of baked goods ever since. What many people don’t realize, is that the popular seeds used in baking come from the same poppy plant responsible for producing opiates such as: opium, morphine, and codeine. Because the level of opiates present in the seeds is substantially reduced as a result of the baking process, the seeds are generally considered safe for consumption. However, consuming poppy seeds can lead to positive opiate tests in urine drug screening. Opiates can be detected in blood, saliva, and hair as well, and may be detected in the urine for up to 48 hours after poppy seed ingestion.

Additionally, the seed pods or seeds have been used for centuries to produce poppy tea or poppy seed tea, also known as opium tea, for its narcotic, analgesic, antidiarrheal, and/or euphoric effects—or as a substitute for opiates. The resulting herbal beverage is not a true tea, as tea is prepared with the leaves of a plant, and is far from harmless. Its consumption has been documented to cause addiction, poppy seed stroke, and even death.

Poppy seeds have been used for centuries by people all over the world. They are said to be rich in fiber, plant fats and other nutrients such as: Manganese, Calcium, Phosphorous, Iron, and Zinc. When steeped, the tea is said to offer various benefits, including promoting digestion, aiding sleep, boosting skin and hair health, and treating headaches, coughs, and asthma. Known to the ancients as the “joy plant”, poppies are cultivated around the world for their beauty and symbolism. And yes, in the case of the opium poppy… the opium. While poppy seeds do not contain the opium alkaloids, they can become contaminated with alkaloids as a result of insect damage, or through poor harvesting practices.

The Facts About Poppy Seed Stroke

Medical and government publications have documented over 600 reported adverse events including 20 overdoses and 19 total fatalities attributed to poppy in the U.S., with most fatalities having occurred since 2015. Additionally, data showed that rates of adverse events related to poppy use may be rising.

A case-control study carried out from 2003-2004, in Shefa Hospital in Kerman, Iran, found that 10% of stroke patients in the control group were opium dependent. They concluded that:

Opium dependency can be regarded as an independent risk factor for stroke. As this corresponds to previous findings as to opium dependency can increase plasma fibrinogen and development of atherosclerosis, it is important for prophylactic manages.

Some of the effects of opium or morphine on the physiology of the body include weakening immune system, increasing the risk of infections and the resulted mortality, biochemical and hormonal changes, decreasing the total oxygen consumption, increasing the plasma fibrinogen, increasing coagulation, increasing the risk of arteriosclerosis, and depression. These effects of opium suggest the possibility of its relationship with stroke. A study on the relationship of opium dependency and ischemic heart diseases carried out in Kerman showed a relationship between opium dependency and cardiovascular diseases. Since the mechanisms of stroke and heart attack are quite similar, there is a possibility that opium dependency has similar effects on brain vessels, which the present study aimed to investigate.

The European Union (EU) has adopted regulations for the breeding, pest control and harvesting of poppies which reduce the chance of contaminating fully ripe poppy seeds with the other, deadlier, parts of the plant. CSPI’s petition urges the FDA to adopt similar policies. The letter collects and presents evidence of the poppy seed deaths, the scientific properties in play, and the laws already violated by the sale of contaminated seeds. CSPI argues that the FDA and DOJ have ample authority to take action to regulate poppy seeds, and that it’s time they should.

Where are People Getting Poppy Seeds?

As they are not regulated, poppy seeds are widely available for purchase both online and at local health food stores. Upon googling “poppy seeds” or “poppy seed tea” you’ll find websites abound where one can purchase the seeds and even learn how to make the tea. Most of them exclaiming the proposed health benefits of the concoction. Touting the drink as “one of the world’s oldest known medicines.”

Is it really worth it though? Yes, it has been around for centuries, and while it’s benefits and side effects are fairly well known, the general public does not usually make the connection between the seemingly harmless seed, used in all of their favorite baked goods, and the more lethal opioid drugs made from the plant’s other components. These websites generally do list possible side effects such as, drowsiness, dehydration respiratory depression, constipation and nausea. Unfortunately, they don’t list risk of addiction, overdose, poppy seed stroke, or death which are also alarmingly common.

A warning letter from the FDA to one online retailer stated:

Your PoppySeed Wash product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced use and, therefore, the product is a “new drug” under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)]. And Your PoppySeed Wash product is intended for treatment of one or more diseases that are not amenable to self-diagnosis or treatment without the supervision of a licensed practitioner.  Therefore, it is impossible to write adequate directions for use for a layperson to use your product safely for its intended purposes.

I can understand the desire to limit or avoid both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Most of them have so many side effects it makes you wonder if it’s really worth the risk. You won’t have a headache anymore, but this medication may cause stomach bleeding, no thanks. But people have to be careful when searching online for natural and alternative remedies. Just because someone posts it online doesn’t mean it’s true! Additionally, much of the information provided is incomplete and often inaccurate.

It’s important to do your research before trying any form of alternative or purportedly ‘natural’ medicine. Just because it grows naturally on the earth does not mean it is safe for consumption! Check and double check your sources to ensure their credibility, and check with your doctor before even considering trying any ‘alternative’ form of medicine.

Why Aren’t They Illegal?

The opium poppy plant contains narcotic alkaloids such as morphine and codeine. In the United States, poppy plants are considered a Schedule II controlled substance and therefor cannot be legally grown here. Fully ripe poppy seeds however, do not contain the opium alkaloids so they are legal to purchase. However, if the seeds are not fully ripened, the pods still contain the milky opium that can kill you. All of the seeds sold in this country are imported from other countries where cultivation is permitted and where the seeds can also become contaminated as a result of insect damage, or through poor harvesting practices.

Unfortunately, not all importers adequately process their seeds, and some sellers even market poppy seeds as “unwashed” or “unprocessed,” to convey that they have high levels of opiates to consumers who may purchase the seeds to brew poppy seed tea. Brewing this tea can concentrate the opiates from a batch of seeds and consumers of it may not be aware that the effects from the consumption of the seeds may be due to these opiates. In addition, opiate contamination levels can vary widely from batch to batch, putting those who drink the tea at increased risk of accidental overdose or other health consequences such as poppy seed stroke or even death.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently filed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to protect consumers from unprocessed poppy seeds, which are often contaminated with the plant’s naturally occurring opiate residues. One woman, from Missouri, has suffered brain damage due to multiple strokes. Her doctors suspect that these events were caused by heavy poppy seed tea consumption. The resulting neurological damage has badly reduced the family’s quality of life and it is believed that she will require ongoing medical treatment for the rest of her life.