Journal of analytical toxicology

The analysis of thebaine in urine for the detection of poppy seed consumption.

PMID 9288591


The consumption of poppy seeds in various foods may lead to a positive opiate result in urine subjected to testing for drugs of abuse. As a natural constituent of poppy seeds, thebaine was investigated as a possible marker for poppy seed consumption. Poppy seeds were examined for opiate content by gas chromatography-ion trap mass spectrometry (GC-MS) after extraction with methanol. Urine samples spiked with thebaine and urine from subjects given 11 g of poppy seeds were tested for the presence of thebaine, codeine, and morphine. Street heroin, one morphine and one codeine tablet, and urine from individuals who had used heroin were also examined for thebaine. Urine specimens were screened by enzyme immunoassay (EMIT) and confirmed for thebaine by GC-MS using a solid-phase extraction method. The GC-MS assay showed a linear response over a range of 1-100 ng/mL and a limit of detection of 0.5 ng/mL. Thebaine was detectable in the urine of poppy seed eaters in concentrations ranging from 2 to 81 ng/mL. Because thebaine was absent in powdered drugs and the urine of true opiate drug users, thebaine is proposed as a direct marker for poppy seed use.

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Thebaine, powder