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Khas/poppy seeds are commonly called Khus, Khas grass, Cuscus or Khas Khas. The botanical name for poppy is Vetiver zizanioides, which belongs to the family Poaceae. This plant is mainly used for perfumery and medicinal benefits. This herb is also used for flavoring drinks and also for cooling purposes.

Poppy seeds have immense benefits to a man. Poppy is an important herb in Ayurveda to treat various health conditions. Its origins are from India, long tufted grass available in plenty in marshy river banks. This grass has a mild, musky smell that has a cooling effect on the body and mind. The roots of this grass are used to extract oil which is used as a medicine for many diseases. This oil is also used in making perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and oils. They are also used in beverages and food items.

Today the plant is also cultivated in the North Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Poppy seeds of superior quality are harvested when they are ripe, after the seed pod has dried

POPPY SEEDS ARE USED AROUND THE WORLD IN VARIOUS CUISINES:

In India, Iran and Turkey poppy seeds are known as khas khas and are considered highly nutritious, mostly added in dough while baking bread, and recommended for pregnant women and new mothers.

In European cuisines, poppy seeds are eaten with pasta. In Lithuania and Eastern Slovakia a traditional meal is prepared for the Christmas Eve dinner from the poppy seeds. In Indian cuisine and Pakistani cuisine, white poppy seeds are added for thickness, texture and also give added flavor to the recipe.

In Indian states poppy seeds are used in various ways like

- In Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh) white poppy seeds are called posto. They are very popular and are used as the main ingredient in a variety of dishes.

- In Karnataka cuisine, Gasagase Payasa very popular in southern part of the South Indian state of Karnataka.

- In Andhra cuisine white poppy seeds are used various recipes., called Gasaalu in Telugu.

- In Maharashtra, poppy seeds are used to garnish anarsa, a special sweet prepared during the festival of Diwali.

NUTRITIONAL IMPORTANCE OF KHAS KHAS

  • Poppy seeds contain good levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium.

-   Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.

-  Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.

-  Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

-  Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase

  • Poppy seeds contain many chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
  • These seeds are a good source of fatty acids which are required for the body’s good health. These seeds are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Linoleic acid protects the heart from many heart diseases
  • Poppy seed oil contains oleic acid. Studies conducted on this acid show that it is helpful in treating breast cancer.
  • Poppy seeds outer coat is a good source of dietary fiber. 100 g raw seeds provide 19.5 g. It helps in increasing bulk of the food by absorbing water down the digestive tract and thereby easing constipation problem.
  • Additionally, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (a product of cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon. It thus helps in a further decrease in blood LDL cholesterol levels.
  • The seeds are excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and folic acid.
  • Dried poppy seeds contain very small levels of opium alkaloids such as morphine, thebaine, codiene, papaverine etc., these chemicals have beneficial effects on the human body; soothe nervous irritability, act as painkillers, and used in pharmacy as well as in many traditional medicines in the preparations of cough mixtures, expectorants etc.
  • Poppy seeds have rich carbohydrate content. Thus, poppy seeds enhance the energy levels.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Poppy seeds are good sources of carbohydrates and thus, these are helpful in enhancing the level of energy supplied to human body for routine functions.
  • Poppy seeds are also good sources of fatty acids, especially the omega-3 fatty acids, which are required by human body to ensure good health.
  • The presence of linoleic acid in poppy seeds protects the body from heart attacks and other heart disorders.
  • The oil made from poppy seeds is helpful in treating breast cancer, as it contains oleic acid.
  • Poppies are used to treat vomiting and nausea.
  • Drinking a decoction of poppy seeds helps all nervous disorders.
  • Consumption of a paste of poppy seeds daily cures insomnia.
  • Regular consumption of poppy seeds cures asthma and cough.
  • Regular application of a smooth paste of poppy seeds under the eyes cures dark circles and inflammation of the eye lids.
  • A paste of poppy seeds and ghee cures abdominal pain, colic and sciatica.
  • A dosage Poppy seeds paste cures diarrhea.
  • Poppy seeds paste applied over the affected area give relief, in case of any swelling and joint pains.
  • This also has a good curing effect, on gout, arthritis, rheumatism and other bone related diseases.
  • In Iran, poppy seeds are used to treat boils and nosebleeds, and healers in Algeria sometimes stuff poppy seeds into tooth cavities to relieve pain.

 USES OF POPPY SEED OIL

  • Anti Inflammatory: The very soothing and cooling effect of this essential oil calms and pacifies all sorts of inflammations. It is particularly good in giving relief from inflammations in circulatory system and nervous system.
  • Anti Septic: This oil efficiently stops the growth of the bacteria responsible for causing septic, and eliminates them, thereby helping cure septic and giving protection against it. Being totally safe, this oil can be applied externally on wounds or taken orally, to protect wounds as well as internal organs from septic.
  • Aphrodisiac: This oil has an aphrodisiac effect. It enhances libido and gives arousals. Since sex has more to do with the psychology (brain) than the physiology, remedy for most of the sexual disorders like frigidity, lack of libido, impotence etc. lays in the brain. Certain components of this oil stimulate those portions of brain and the problems are over.
  • Cicatrisant: It is a property by virtue of which a substance speeds up the eradication or disappearance of the scars and other marks from the skin. It promotes growth of new tissues in the affected places which replace the dead and discoloured tissues. This is also useful for the post delivery stretch marks, fat cracks, after spots left by pox, burns etc.
  • Nervine: A tonic for the nerves is called a nervine. This oil takes care of the nerves and maintains them in good health. It also heals the damages done to the nerves by shock, fear, stress etc. Further, it helps get rid of nervous disorders, afflictions, epileptic and hysteric attacks, nervous and neurotic disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, lack of control over limbs etc.
  • Sedative: The Essential Oil of Vetiver is a well known sedative. It sedates nervous irritations, afflictions, convulsions and emotional outbursts such as anger, anxiety, epileptic and hysteric attacks, restlessness, nervousness etc. and even benefits patients of insomnia

 OTHER USES

  • Poppy seed oil is used as condiment to add flavor to different types of recipes.
  • The oil derived from poppy seeds also has cosmetic benefits and is used for various massages on the head and skin.
  • They are used very commonly while making bread, cakes and muffins. They can be roasted or eaten raw, sprinkled on salads, or in salad dressings, while baking and cooking pastas and vegetables.
  • Poppy tea can induce a state of calm and relaxation.
  • Poppy seeds do not contain any narcotic properties and hence one can benefit from poppy seeds nutrition without the effects of opium.
  • It has a calming effect on the sore areas.
  • Khus-Khus grass is used as a natural cooler Its dried grass and roots are used to thatch the side panels of coolers. This method helps in adding fragrance to the moist air.

Consuming poppy seeds in large amounts can lead to serious health complications and addiction. If khus-khus is taken in huge amounts, it can cause constipation and dizziness. It is not recommended for pregnant women since it causes nausea and in some cases can even give the sense of mild euphoria.