Wild lettuce


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.

Common Uses

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.

For Asthma

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:

  • Relaxation
  • Sleepiness
  • Slight sedation
  • Feeling less anxiety
  • Relief of aches and pains
  • A mild Euphoria
  • A decrease in the symptoms of asthma and migraine headaches

Side Effects

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.

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18 thoughts on “Wild lettuce”

  1. Due to allergic reactions I cannot use pharmaceutical analgesia. Finally getting mobile again my damaged spine is starting to argue with me, I currently use turmeric while I’m out of bed; but I am waking sore in the mornings. Going to try this and see iff it helps. Looking forward to trying it. finding out about our wonderful herbal pharmacy, is a personal story that keeps me alive. Every day I wake again is a bonus.

    1. Arnitha Masenheimer

      Hello MrsT. I also have chronic pain issues but mine are due to autoimmune disorders and painful hemolytic crises,(I have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Fibromyalgia, Beta Thalassemia, and G6PD Deficiency. I can’t use any pain meds with NSAIDS or Tylenol in them, I can’t use most muscle relaxers, or Gabapentin/Lyrica because of my blood disorders. I have found medical cannabis beneficial, I make edibles and tinctures from it. I am interested in finding alternatives though and started researching Wild Lettuce. Luckily, it grows all over the place near me. I’ve made it into tea and I also dried it and made it into capsules. The tea is better btw. The Wild Lettuce relaxes me and my muscle spasms. It helps me breathe, it slightly sedates me, and it relieves my pain (temporarily). Have you tried it yet and if so, how do you like it?

      1. Incredible, thanks a lot for your detailed account.
        I’ve heard good things about Wild Lettuce but I only smoked it myself. As far as pain goes, I am lucky enough to only have the occasional back pain.
        I’m glad to hear it helps you. Medical cannabis and high CBD hemp flower are also good options for pain relief, as you noted.
        Do you have a recipe for Wild lettuce tea?

  2. I would not try the wild lettuce without a TON more credible sources listed. I’ve had remarkable relief from migraines by taking 400mg or so of mag glycinate first thing in the morning with a very generous bit of salt (at least 1/8 tsp)

    1. Ann.
      Try it .the effect is not like smoking a joint..its like one glass of wine that last for a few hours.you just feel nice..
      Re resesrch usa government research has been done and published
      On MedPub.gov
      It is far safer the pharmaceuticals.
      It reduces oxidative. Stress in vains and arteries.
      Thats official.

  3. I picked a few tops off my fresh young plants that are roughly two feet tall .i boiled it for a few minutes and took the greens out and had maybe 8oz glass of liquid. I added half a cup of suger.and drank it .taste wasnt too bad but i didnt notice any affects . my first exspirment.

  4. Woah. I’ve read a handful of articles now all praising the benefits of wild lettuce. I found some growing in front of my garage and I’m studying herbalism at the moment, so not only do I have numerous books – that seem to shun the mention of wild lettuce, and now I suppose I know why – but I was curious whether or not an herb like that is medicinally useful. After reading that materia medica, I’m hesitant to bother with it. What a conundrum. Onto more research!

  5. John Noris Maguire III

    I used to have migrains, and then I tried taking magnesium pills everyday (available at drug stores), and the migrains went away. I read also that magnesium can prevent migrains. Good for your nerves and heart too.

    1. I suffer from migrains everyday. Knowing about magnesium pills gives me hope. I will surely buy some.


      1. Magnesium is Nature’s Muscle Relaxer! While Mag Pills help, though it isn’t absorbed well when taken internally. Mag Oil is great as it get absorbed through the skin and doesn’t cause the intestinal issues that the oral dose can have! So many people don’t know that they are deficient in this mineral as well as so many others, that lead to many of the issues we deal with and seek medical help for… Doctors treat the symptoms but rarely address the underlying cause of the issue! “A Patient cured, is a Customer lost!”

      2. The best way for you to absorb magnesium is through the skin they sell creams or just soaking in epsom salt also works

      3. This is a wonderfully useful plant. Ive made tea for several friends who get bad migraines. Worked everytime in dramatic fashion.

        Prepared as a simple syrup, a teaspoon at a time is suffixient for relaxing / pain relied and it remains potent for months.

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