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Wild Lettuce (scientific name Lactuca virosa) is a tall, leafy plant with small bright yellow flowers.It looks similar to prickly lettuce (scientific name 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 and Use
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.
Wild Lettuce can be used to make tea. 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.
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 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 Use
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.
As a Smoking Blend: Wild lettuce can be smoked alone or as part of an herbal blend. The effects of smoking the herb are milder than that of the tea, but take effect sooner. The herb itself is very bitter, and does not taste well when smoked alone.
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. 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
Since wild lettuce has such a sedative effect, a common side effect of the herb is a temporary reduction in sexual desire and performance.
While Wild Lettuce was studied and used as a drug for a number of years, the Food and Drug Administration has un-scheduled the herb. This means that it is legal to grow, sell, buy, or own. This makes it a great choice when seeking relief from pain, migraine headaches, and asthma. The euphoric effect of Wild Lettuce can provide a mild, legal high.
Where to buy Wild Lettuce
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Nicolas ‘Axel’ Duval is the founder and content editor of this website. He launched Smokable Herbs in 2011. He later created the Smokably herb online store, which sells herbs and blends worldwide.
As an herbalist and marketing enthusiast, he used Smokable Herbs as a sandbox to test ideas and deploy content.