One of the best solutions for dealing with pain is using wild lettuce. While it is not as known as it should be, it is most likely already growing in your backyard. Wild lettuce has been famous for a long time in the ‘natural remedy’ or ‘alternative treatment’ world. It is often referred to as “poor man’s Opium.
Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa) is a tall, leafy plant with small bright yellow flowers. It looks similar to prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola), with a few differences. The leaves and stems are less spiny, and grow closer together. A member of the lettuce family, wild lettuce grows wild in North America and England. Wild Lettuce is also called bitter lettuce, laitue vireuse, opium lettuce, and rakutu-karyumu-so.
It is known for having mild sedative and pain relieving properties, due to a milky substance called lactucarium which is found in the leaves and stem of the plant. The effects of lactucarium are considered to be similar to opium, though the substance contains no actual opiates. These effects earned wild lettuce the common name of opium lettuce.
History of Wild Lettuce
Wild lettuce was widely used in the nineteenth century as an alternative to opium. In was included in the materia medica for a number of years. In the 1970s, the herb gained popularity as both an herbal remedy and a recreational herb.
It has been used to treat a number of ailments including asthma, cough, insomnia, headaches, pain, sore muscles and menstrual problems. In the past, Wild Lettuce has been prepared for use in a number of way. Most commonly, the leaves and stems would be dried and prepared as a tea.
Other times, the plant would be simmered in a pot with water and sugar, and then reduced to form a thick syrup. Though bitter, the effects of these preparations proved quite effective.
While these are the two most traditional means of preparing Wild Lettuce for use, there are a number of more modern options as well.
Wild Lettuce can used to make tea, to gain the benefits of the herb while reducing the amount of smoke in your lungs. It can also be smoked or used in a vaporizer. The herb can be bought in a dried cut blend, as a powder, or as a resin made from the collected milk or sap of the plant. An herbal extract is also available. Each product of Wild Lettuce contains lactucarium,
though it is more concentrated in the resin.
Uses of Wild Lettuce
Anxiety: Wild Lettuce has a mild sedative effect which makes it great for anxiety.
Sleep and Insomnia: Wild Lettuce has long been used to treat insomnia.
The relaxed euphoric feeling given by the herb makes falling asleep much
To relieve Pain and Tension:Wild Lettuce is also called opium lettuce because of its opiate like effect. Not only does it reduce pain, it has been known to cause a mild opiate like high. This quality makes it very useful in relieving pain.
For Migraine / Headaches: Wild Lettuce is believed to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Many people who use Wild Lettuce regularly report fewer headaches than before they began using the herb.
Wild Lettuce For Asthma: It was originally used as a treatment for asthma. Even now, many people claim that their use of the herb is responsible for fewer and less severe asthma related problems.
As a mild Euphoric: One of the most prominent reasons people choose Wild Lettuce is for the opiate-like effect. Wild Lettuce causes a feeling of mild euphoria very similar to opiates, though it contains no actual opiates. Not only is this completely legal, it provides an affect similar to opiates without altering the results of a drug test.
Methods of Using Wild Lettuce
Diffusion: (with a diffuser or vaporizer) Turns dried Wild Lettuce into a mist that can be inhaled.
As an Infusion or Tea: The leaves and stems of Wild Lettuce, as well as the prepared powder, can be used to make an infusion or tea.
As a prepared Tincture (liquid herbal extract): A few ml of Wild Lettuce before bed can help with insomnia, asthma, and migraine headaches.
Effects of Wild Lettuce
Wild Lettuce has a naturally bitter taste. However, when made into a tea with a few spoonfuls of honey, it can be an enjoyable drink. Some people claim that it is an acquired taste. After their first few cups of the tea, they believe it tastes much better. The initial results of Wild Lettuce are short lived, but the herb seems to have a continued positive effects on overall health, reducing the severity and frequency of a number of ailments when used regularly.
Users of Wild Lettuce report:
- Slight sedation
- Feeling less anxiety
- Relief of aches and pains
- A mild Euphoria
- A decrease in the symptoms of asthma and migraine headaches
It’s effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety, and may even quell restless legs syndrome.
Wild lettuce has proven to be effective in treating a wide range of things. It can work for everything from muscle or joint pain to whooping cough. In the book A Modern Herbal, Volume 2 it is even mentioned how Dr. Collins “stated that 23 out of 24 cases of dropsy were cured by taking doses of 18 grains to 3 drachms of extract in 24 hours.”