Lactuca virosa is a plant in the Lactuca (lettuce) genus, ingested often for its mild psychotropic (specifically hypnotic or sedative) effects which are often described as being similar to those of opium. It is related to common lettuce (L. sativa), and is often called wild lettuce, bitter lettuce, laitue vireuse, opium lettuce, poisonous lettuce, tall lettuce, great lettuce or rakutu-karyumu-so.
Lactuca virosa is widespread across much of central and southern Europe. It can be found locally in the south east and east of England. In the rest of Great Britain it is very rare, and in Ireland it is absent.
Lactuca virosa is biennial, similar to prickly lettuce Lactuca serriola but taller – it can grow to 200 cm (80 inches or almost 7 feet). It is also stouter, the stem and leaves are more purple flushed,[disputed – discuss] the leaves are less divided, but more spreading.
The achene is purple black, without bristles at the tip. The pappus is the same as Lactuca serriola.
In the northern hemisphere, it flowers from July until September.[source]
The Natural Pain Killer Wild Lettuce Benefits
Wild lettuce is effective for calming restlessness and reducing anxiety, especially in teenagers. Some sources say it may even help with restless legs syndrome.
2. A Mild Diuretic
Wild lettuce can promote and even increase urine flow, which is why it is often used for urinary tract infections and dropsy (edema), a condition in which fluid accumulates in the tissues or body cavities, causing excessive swelling.
3. Sleep And Insomnia
It is no wonder that wild lettuce can effectively treat insomnia. Like an opiate, it has powerful sedative properties. You can combine wild lettuce with valerian, another sedating herb to enhance its tranquilizing properties.
4. Ease Arthritis
The pain relieving effects of wild lettuce can also relieve muscle and joint pain caused by arthritis. Drink wild lettuce tea just before bed and it will soothe sore muscles and joints while also promoting sleep.
5. Heal Migraines
Wild Lettuce may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, especially if taken in tincture form.
6. For Coughs And Asthma
According to the HerbDoc.com, wild lettuce can be used for “Irritation of the bronchial tubes, lungs, and a cough”. Plus, it has expectorant properties that are effective for “easing bronchitis, asthma, and dry, irritating coughs by helping to loosen and expel phlegm from the respiratory tract.”
How To Use Wild Lettuce
You can buy wild lettuce as a tea, tincture or supplement. Some people also dry the plant and smoke them in a pipe, but we don’t recommend inhaling the herb.
Here’s how you can use it
- For pain, the dose is 1.5 grams of opium lettuce sap infused in a tea.
- Just 0.25 grams are required if smoked in a pipe, as it is considerably more potent in this form.
- If using a supplement, take 30 to 120 milligrams before bed.
- In tincture form, use 12-24 drops daily for acute stress or anxiety.
- Take 12-24 drops every 15 minutes for 1 or 2 hours before bed for insomnia.