Wild lettuce resembles something between a thistle and a dandelion. This unique plant was used as a painkiller and sedative for centuries. Moreover, in the past, in the 1800s, it was known as “poor man’s opium”, because people considered it as a substitute for opium. A state of euphoric mild dream was induced by one Indian tribe, Hopi, when they smoked the sap.
Nowadays in France, the distilled water from the lettuce is used as a sedative with mild properties.
Opiates which are pain-relieving are part of wild lettuce in particular part of the milky resinous sap. When collected and dried, the compound is named lactucarium. The active substances of lactucarium that are the most important are lactucin, lactucopicrin and lactupicrin.
In one study with experimental mice, researchers have revealed it provides effects that are analgesic which are equivalent or in some cases even stronger than the effect of ibuprofen. It was also shown that lactucin and lactucopicrin provide sedative effects in measurements of spontaneous movements of the mice.
Iranian researchers have discovered that opium lettuce was a popular sedative and painkiller before the Victorian period, which indicates that the plant has been used for ages. The impact of wild lettuce that is similar to the one of the opium has been described from The Institute for the History of Science, in one study that describes lettuce, Lactuca sp. in the 19th century in some publications from Poland to be a medicinal plant.
It was written that although the compound had a weaker effect than the one of opium, it showed no side-effects. In some cases, better results were accomplished in the curing treatment with lactucarium in comparison to opium. Opium is not part of the compounds of wild lettuce. However, it has numerous properties that are comparable to it. Besides having pain-relieving properties, it is also helpful for treating cough. It is proved that its effects are successful and mitigate the symptoms of pertussis (which is known as whooping cough).
Uses of Wild Lettuce
Anxiety – The sedative characteristics that are mild makes the wild lettuce to be great remedy for anxiety.
Insomnia and Sleep – Lettuce has been used from long time ago in the treatment of insomnia.
Relieves Pain and Tension – Due to the effects like opiate, wild lettuce is also called opium lettuce. It not just relieves pain, but also it causes an opiate which is mild like high, which makes it great for pain-relieving treatment.
For Migraine/Headaches – It is believed that opium lettuce is helpful for reducing the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
For Asthma – This plant was initially used to treat asthma. Even today, people that suffer from asthma say that wild lettuce reduced the severity and frequency of their symptoms of asthma.
Like Mild Opium – Its opium like effect is the most common reason why people choose this wild lettuce. Even though it doesn’t have actual opiates, this plant causes a feeling of mild euphoria similar to opiates. It is legal, and provides effects similar to opiates and it does not affect the test results of a drug test.
It has to be mentioned that its usage in salads it is not recommended, because large amount of wild lettuce might be the reason for causing vomiting, dizziness, nausea, and anxiety.
How Wild Lettuce Can Be Used
When the stem or leaf from wild lettuce is broken or cut, it releases sap that is milky and thick. Alcohol tincture can be made from the sap, or a tincture can be made from the leaves that are fresh and the tops of the flowers. The leaves and the top of the flowers can be also used as dried in a form of a capsule, smoked or used as tea.
Usually about 1.5 gr. of sap which is derived from wild lettuce is impregnated in a tea that has sugary taste. Around 0.25 gr. are smoked in a pipe, but it’s significantly more powerful when smoked.