It is sad how much knowledge we have lost over the years. In addition to traditional skills like gardening, food preservation, and carpentry, we’ve forgotten about medicinal remedies – including ones that can be found in our backyards.
Luckily, some of these traditional medicines are making a comeback, including Lactuca virosa, aka wild lettuce.
What Is Wild Lettuce?
It is a plant that can grow 6 feet tall. It has yellow flowers and spiny leaves. The Latin name “Lactuca” means “milk juice” and refers to the milky substance (Lactucarium) which comes out of the plant when it is cut.
That milky substance contains the natural chemicals lactucin and lacttucopicrin. These are the substances that are responsible for its pain-killing properties.
For people just getting started with foraging and natural remedies, wild lettuce is one of the most valuable plants to know.
Where Does It Grow?
It is indigenous to the Himalayan region of India.
It is found growing in the United States in areas like Washington State. I couldn’t find any information about when it was introduced to the USA. However, many foragers claim that Native Americans used it as a natural pain reliever and medicinal remedy.
You can also find the plant in Europe, particularly in the central and southern parts. In England, you can find it in the East and Southeast parts.
History of Wild Opium Lettuce
Wild lettuce has a long history of medical use. Its use goes back to ancient Egypt, and depictions of it were seen in hieroglyphics. Emperor Augustus built an altar to the plant during the Roman Empire after using it to recover from illness.
It is often called “opium lettuce” because it was used during the 19th century when opium couldn’t be obtained.
Don’t let the name “lettuce opium” put you off, though.
The plant is not addictive and does NOT cause the side effects of opiates, such as an upset stomach.
Identifying The Plant
Identification can be a bit tricky because it closely resembles dandelion (Taraxacum) and milk thistle (Lactuca serriola).
When young, wild lettuce has short leaves that grow in clusters. As it ages, it develops a thick stalk with long leaves coming off of it. The leaves are smooth and have a light green color. Sometimes the leaves have purple spots on them. The root is brown.
When you cut the stalk or leaves, you’ll see a white milky substance known as latex come out immediately.
The latex turns yellow and then brown as its dries and hardens.
Most of us are familiar with how dandelion looks in our yards. However, when dandelion gets older, you might mistake it for wild lettuce.
Here’s how to spot the difference:
- Height: Dandelion usually doesn’t grow taller than 1.5 feet. Wild lettuce grows up to 6 feet tall.
- Number of Flowers: Dandelions have just one flower. Wild lettuce has multiple flowers.
- Flower Size: Dandelion flowers are usually around 1.5 inches wide. Wild lettuce flowers are small at around ¼ inch wide.
- Stalk: Dandelion will not grow a thick stalk as it grows older. Wild lettuce will get a thick, almost woody stem.
Vs. Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola)
Here is where identification gets tricky. Its cousin Lactuca Serriola looks a lot like it, and their flowers are identical.
Since Lactuca Serriola is found more commonly, you might think you’ve got wild lettuce when it is really prickly lettuce.
Here’s how to spot the difference:
- Height: Wild lettuce grows taller than prickly lettuce.
- Stalk: Wild lettuce is thicker than prickly lettuce.
- Leaves: This is the best way to tell the difference between the plants. Wild lettuce has leaves that aren’t as divided and spread out more.
Check out these comparison pictures of Lactuca virosa (wild lettuce) vs. Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce).
Using Wild Lettuce for Pain Relief
The main benefit is that it is a powerful herbal pain reliever, hence why the plant is often called “opium lettuce.”
Recommended Reading: Natural Homemade Pain Killers
The components which provide pain relief are known as lactones. They act on the central nervous system to calm the nerves, which cause pain sensations.
Wild lettuce has been extensively studied and repeatedly shown to reduce pain. (1) The name “opium lettuce” is a misnomer. While the plant will relieve pain, don’t expect the hardcore sedative effects of opium. It is more comparable to a high dosage of ibuprofen. (2)
The good news is that it will relieve pain without causing the adverse effects of opium. You won’t get addicted or develop a tolerance to it.
Most of the scientific studies were for its pain-relieving properties. However, throughout history, wild lettuce has been used to treat a wide arrange of ailments:
Wild Lettuce can treat many illnesses:
- Urinary tract infections
- Menstrual pain
- Rheumatism\Aching joints
- ADHD and hyperactivity in children
- Insomnia\Sleep problems
- Kidney disorders
Harvesting The Plant
All plants contain the active medicinal components. However, these components are low in young plants. Thus, it is best to harvest when it is an adult, right after its flowering period.
It typically flowers between June and August, but this can vary depending on the climate.
To tell whether it is ready for harvesting, just cut the stalk. The milky sap should flow out readily. If it doesn’t, then the plant isn’t ready yet.
How to Prepare The Plant
The milky sap from the stem is the most potent part of the lettuce. Traditionally, wild lettuce was harvested by making cuts in the stalks, letting the sap ooze out, and then letting it dry. The dried sap would be collected.
This traditional harvesting method is very time-consuming and tedious. You might consider just eating the leaves fresh. They are very nutritious (though quite bitter). However, you won’t get a very concentrated dosage this way.
You are better of using one of the methods below. (5)
The pain-relieving components are soluble in water. Thus, one of the easiest ways to get the benefits is to make tea from it.
- Gather leaves.
- Dry the leaves (If using a dehydrator, ensure you use the low heat setting so you don’t destroy the active compounds).
- Grind the leaves.
- Mix 1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves with 1 cup of water.
- Let steep for 3-5 minutes: strain and drink.
- Repeat up to 3x per day.
Note that wild lettuce tea has a very bitter taste. Add some honey and lemon to make it taste better. You can also mix it with other types of tea to mask the taste.
If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy the leaf tea on Amazon.
Wild Lettuce Extract/Resin
Extracts are very easy to make, but you have to be careful that you don’t overheat the plant. The active components are sensitive to heat.
If the mixture ever comes to a boil or starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, the active components of the wild lettuce will be destroyed.
- Gather leaves.
- Put in a blender.
- Blend for just a few seconds. You don’t want to blend up the leaves completely.
- Pour the ground leaves into a pot.
- Add just enough water to cover.
- Put the pot on a stove at LOW heat.
- DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL!
- Heat for 30 minutes, stirring often.
- The water should turn a very dark green color.
- Strain the leaves through a fine mesh (pantyhose works well for this).
- Collect the liquid.
- Put the liquid into a clean pot.
- Heat on LOW again.
- Stir frequently. Make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- The water will evaporate, leaving behind a concentrate of wild lettuce extract.
Watch this video from the Lost Ways team to learn more about making the extract.
Tinctures are even easier to make than extracts. They also last for much longer. However, not everyone likes using tinctures because they require alcohol – not exactly something you want to give kids!
The amount of alcohol in tinctures is very low, though, and the small dosage means you don’t have to deal with the bad taste as much.
Choosing a Stripper:
To make a tincture, you need to have a “stripper.” The stripper is what the active compounds dissolve into. Typically high-proof alcohol like vodka is used to make tinctures.
However, these are better options:
- 190-proof natural cane spirits
- Propylene glycol
- Vegetable glycerin
- Harvest the entire wild lettuce plant
- Chop it up into smaller pieces, then put it into a blender.
- Add your stripper to the blender.*
- Let the mixture sit for at least 3 minutes. Some people recommend letting it sit for 1 week.
- Blend thoroughly.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh, collecting the liquid in a jar.
- Strain again using a coffee filter, once again collecting the liquid in a jar.
- Store the tincture liquid in dark bottles.
Buying Tincture Online
I’m all for the DIY approach to natural medicine. However, I understand if you’d rather just buy wild lettuce extract. It is easier, and you can be sure of the dosage/potency.
The plant can also be smoked. Just take some ground-up dried leaves and roll them into a cigarette.
If you want to avoid the adverse effects of smoking or suffer from asthma, it may be better to use a vaporizer.
Wild Lettuce Dosage
I found a lot of different info on the best dosage. It depends a lot on the potency of the plant you use, how you consume it, and your tolerance.
With natural remedies, it is often best to start with a small dosage and see how you react. Then you can increase the dose as necessary.
Here are some basic guidelines for pain relief:
- Tea: 1-2 teaspoons of dried wild lettuce seeped in 1 cup of water, 3x per day.
- Resin: Take about 1.5 grams of resin as needed.
- Smoking: Use approximately 0.25 grams of dried leaves.
- Tincture: Take 12-24 drops, 2-3x per day.
Where to Find Seeds
If you find lactuca virosa in the wild, you can harvest the seeds and plant them in your yard (possibly starting a medicinal garden).
The plant grows like a weed, so you should be able to grow it easily regardless of where you live. The flowering period is usually from June to August, and it turns to seed shortly after.
A more straightforward solution is to buy seeds. I’ve found this brand to be a reliable source, although they can be surprisingly tricky to germinate.
Potential Side Effects
It generally has very mild effects, especially when taken in appropriate dosages. In larger dosages, you might see some of these side effects:
- Vivid dreams
- Enhanced colors
- Loss of balance
- Distorted vision (8)
At some websites like this one, you’ll see warnings about the toxicity of wild lettuce: “In high doses can produce stupor, depress breathing and overdose can cause coma/death.”
This seems like a huge overstatement, though. There are very few recorded incidences of overdose. In this case study, for example, 8 patients presented with wild lettuce overdose. None of them experienced any long-term adverse effects. One of the patients lost consciousness. The study doesn’t say how much they consumed, only that it was a “great deal.”
The patients were treated by keeping them hydrated and using activated charcoal to help absorb the excess wild lettuce in their digestive tracts.
Wild lettuce is not a controlled substance under the FDA. It is entirely legal to grow, harvest, and use. You can readily buy it legally as well.
If you want to learn more about using this amazing plant, have a look at this video from the Lost Ways team.
Leave a comment
How much do you take? Can it used to rub on painful areas?
Hi Melinda – dosage is covered in the article above. It is not suitable for rubbing on painful areas but can be taken as tea, smoked or turned into a tincture again this is all covered in the article.
I am now making wild lettuce wine using honey to take out the bitterness . Should be ready in a week my plants are 4ft high ordered seeds off internet easy to grow and fast growing
Whew whee! Wine, you say? I think you might be on to something there with that idea. Be careful with that stuff. Happy homebrewing! 😉
6-12 drops in juice or water, under the tongue or as desired. Do not exceed 60 drops per day.
Where do you recommend the purchase of wild lettuce seeds? And, the specific brand, etc? Thanks.
There isn’t a huge choice but you can find them on Amazon.
Note they can be hard to germinate.
I am not sure of the brand but it grows easy in Ky if you would like some plants email me steve
Hi, my name is Red and we’re in Dry Ridge KY. You said it grows easily here? We have 1.5 acres and I can’t find it anywhere. What part of KY are you?
My comment was for Steve, sorry.
I’d love to have some plants for my pain.
My message was for Steve
Steve, I would love some plants. I also live in KY and am excited to try these.
Steve, I would be interested in obtaining the plant, seeds, and info on your experiences with it.
Hello thank you for taking the time to inform us about this plant. Can the SAP just be taken orally? Thank you
It needs to be concentrated to work effectively so this would not be a very efficient way of taking it.
Good job. I liked your article, informative. Now I pretty well know, what that plant in the yard is, lactuca-serriola-min. aka spiny Wild Lettuce. It’s a keeper.
It has not been explained how one can get pain relief by smoking or vapoizing wild lettuce when such requires higher temperatures than that which would destroy all the good stuff (boiling). Please clarify? Thanks!
When you smoke something or vaporize something you are inhaling the good stuff coming out of it. when it boils you have no way of inhaling it for the desired effect. Make sense?
I have wanted this information for sometime. I dry and prepare lot of my own herbs .I will pick and prepare this thru the summer for tea .Thanks again Carolyn
I really enjoyed your article, it helped clarify aspect such a identification. I could not find any sources online for which parts of the plant contain the most lactones, however. I was hoping you could help. Thank you for the knowledge!
The strongest concentration is in the stalks – see above in the “How to Prepare The Plant” section.
How much of the wild lettuce do you take or could you take after a knee replacement surgery And how often?
Wouldn’t the process of it turning to wine destroy the vital ingredients?
Hi. I just made my first batch of resin. It’s very bitter but with a little honey in the spoon, not bad. It works very well for pain. Even severe pain.. I am very pleased to find out about this. I believe the way of the future is in the ways of the past..
Hey Susan – thanks for dropping in, great to hear you made a batch and got the required result. This stuff will be invaluable in a SHTF scenario.
Thanks for the info! Wild lettuce has been growing freely from a box of wild seed mix. I was annoyed with it because it encouraged cut worms in my garden…thru it in the compost. It took over the side of the yard;)))
I’ve been trying to identify them lactuca virosa I think I found in Western Washington. The plant in end of May is several feet high. The bright green leaves come out of the stalk alternating along it. The leaves are about 10 inches long and shaped like a long club ( not the card game club). The distinguishing element is the spiney mid rib on the underside of the leaf. The leaf edges are slightly jagged. The stem also has some spines on it. The roots are whitish. It was easy to pull. It’s not blooming or seeding yet. Of course when you cut the stem there is some white sap near the surface. The stem is not hollow. I think the internet is very confusing with some varieties showing more bluish green leaves that are lobed. What do you think I have. Thank so much.
Susan, I’m in Seattle. What town in Western Washington are you in? I might be able to tell you where there’s a patch so you can verify it is virosa or serriola, etc.
I have found this place to be a reputable source of seeds. (see link below)
No connection except I am a satisfied customer. The plants grew well
and are definitely Lactuca Virosa.
Thanks for the recommendation Mike.
I’m having a very hard time identifying it. I think I have prickly. Does it grow in illinois. Also should I wash it before consuming it. Is this anything like kratom
A commenter^^ stated he had the Spiny plant growing in his yard and will harvest it… i understood the Virosa….the smooth plant was the Prefered plant….
Which is the correct one… and what happens if yiu harvest the wrong one?
The spiny does have some mild sedative effects but the Virosa is more potent and is the one you should use if you can find it.
Just made some extract,lac.serriola,it works, also started some tincture in quart jar after 12 hrs there’s a thin white layer on top of plant matter,is this the medicine,used everclear
Thank you so much for sharing this information, I was on the hunt and was led to you. Thank you again!!
I am excited to get started, I did chew a few leaves it was a bit bitter, but I must say I did get instant relief. Thank God for natural help!
Glad you found the article useful.
Dummy me kept putting weed killer on it, thinking it was a weed that wouldn’t go away! Oh I’m aggravated! Look how many years I lost this stuff! I LOVE your book! Just got it, but having a heck of a time downloading the other great things I bought with it. You’re great! Helping this dummy out! I should’ve listened to my great grandparents! I thought they were nuts eating out of their yard! Boy did I ever learn a ton of stuff! Can’t thank you enough!
Hi Missy – the old ways are often the best, we ignore them at our peril.
Two questions: Is there a difference in the shelf life of the tincture depending on which “stripper” is used to make it? Also, based on your leaf photos, I believe we have this plant on our property but it has little spines only on the central leaf vein. Is this the correct plant? Something to consider: Pain is our body’s way of letting us know something is wrong. If you have arthritis, cancer or a known injury, I would say it is safe to use any pain med, but if you don’t know what the pain is that you’re feeling, you should get it checked and not just mask the problem by covering/eliminating the pain. Someday, getting checked may not be an option, but for now, I’d say get it checked. It may be a warning sign of a bigger problem. Great photos! Great article. Thank you!
High proof alcohol is probably the best, it will perform better than glycerin in terms of shelf life. This is a complicated subject some good (technical) info here – https://theherbarium.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/tinctures-fluid-extracts/
Regarding plant identification, we are unable to give specific advice for obvious reasons. Never eat or ingest anything you are unsure of.
Totally agree with your points regarding using a medical professional for any pain or illness.
Great comment. Thanks.
I’m alittle confused, hope you can help. I have the prickly lettuce in my back yard…looks to be the seriola variety by pictures I have seen. Is the correct plan for the medical properties the Verosa? The verosa has the rounded leaves. My plants have the heavy toothed leaves. Can I use the toothed leaved plants (seriola) for making the resin as shown in the lost ways video? Do both plants have the same properties? thanks for the info.
General consensus is that the opium lettuce (rounded leaves) is most potent. The prickly also has some mild sedative effects. Of course these are natural plants so the potency will change from plant to plant.
Either should be good for the resin.
I wish there was an easy to find definitive picture and highly detailed description of the plant that is the most beneficial for the pain issues. I’ve been lookin online all day and I have seen 2 very different looking leaves. The wide toothed leaf and the rounder version. Everyone is saying both are the same plant but clearly cannot be right?
Both will work but the virosa is generally more potent.
So the tincture of this plant or the active compounds get tolerated by the brain?
Or I can use whitout increasing the dosage?
Not sure about that Gabriel, Long term use of any drug is not to be recommended without proper medical advice.
Thank you for your advice! I’m post brain surgery & living with a brain disease. I found lactuca scariola (yard), but I’m still looking for lactuca virosa. I appreciate your info so much! (Can you post a mature virosa with leaves)?
HI Fran – glad the article could help. Lots of images on Google of the mature plant. Check here.
I have noted that you have said that they are hard to germinate, my question is how long before the seeds pop up through the ground.
My seeds have been planted about 21/2 weeks with no sign of them coming through, I planted about 5 or 6 seeds to start with.
Any help is appreciated.
Hi Peter, the seeds should germinate in 10 to 20 days so it looks like these ones have failed. Not sure where you are but very warm soil can be a problem for the seeds, so may be something worth looking at.
We used a heat may to promote germination, 100% germinated!
Is fresh best?
Can I put it through a juicer? Mix it with apple juice and drink it that way
Will it show up in drug tests
Are you talking about putting the leaves through a blender? If so this would not be very effective as the dose would not be concentrated. See above for better options such as making tincture. As of now it is totally legal so I don’t believe it would be looked for in a drugs test.
Very good informative article. Will recommend
Can Lettuce root be used ?
I don’t believe so but if anyone knows any different let us know here.
as for the roots, you would think they would be the most beneficial, as in the dandelion plant. I harvest dandelion roots, chop, dry, and store for tea. excellent for liver, kidneys and pancreas. I would be extremely interested in finding out about the roots of the wild lettuce. going to do some experimenting with them. btw. loved the article.
Hey Jodie, would love to hear the findings of your experiments, please report back here.
Hi…I would like to share what I do with this plant. We live in the country so I have an unending way to gather the lettuce. I cut down the whole plant at all times through the growing season we have. When you do this, the plant branches out and grown again. I take the whole plant and just snip it into half inch pieces. I do a whole hand full at a time just using garden shears. The white sap (in the stems) seems to work the same at any time during the growing season. I just put the cut up leaves and stems in cheap plastic colanders and leave them outside. I turn them over a couple times a day. When they are dry, I put them in jars with lids for storage. I don’t measure when I use it. I put a medium sized pot of water on the stove. I watch it until small bubble form on the bottom. Do not boil! Then I put a couple large spoonfuls of ginger in the pan and stir. This cools the water a little and it is a wonderful remedy herb. Then I fill the pan with as much lettuce as I can and stir it until it all stays under the top of the water. I put a lid on it and let it sit until the next day. The I get a big jar (I use a big pickle jar) I put a strainer on the top of the jar and after I stir it well (the ginger will sink to the bottom of the pan). I squeeze the lettuce very thoroughly. I keep it in the fridge. I pour some in a small jar and when I need pain relief, I just take a drink from the small jar which I refill as needed from the big jar. This works for me and is a very easy way to prepare it… I hope this helps someone.
Fantastic information Dana – great to hear of it being harvested and used in this manner. Your method seems incredibly simple, I guess the results depend on the potency of the individual plants .
Wow, Dana Pearson, thank you for sharing this. I have a huge amount of this lettuce growing here this year due to heavy snowfall this past winter and also due to my protecting the lettuces so they would seed and prosper
Dana What happens when you take the entire amount of moisture out of the elixar? It did not go over 150 degrees. Can I put water back in or did I loose the value by getting it too dry. Thanks karen
Is it possible to germinate without soil like cress? Thanks.
Not something I have ever tried but I would say it is unlikely to work.
If you brew the tea and drink it as a cold tea, does this alter the pain-killing properties?
If it is prepared correctly in the initial phase then this should work fine.
I have bought some wild lettuce concentrate that came in a very fine brown powder. I am unsure of how I should take it, ie, in a hot drink, a capsule or smoke it. I am also unsure of how much to take for my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
We cannot give specific medical advice and without knowing exactly what you have it is difficult to say. Are there not instructions on the packaging or on the website of the company you bought the product from?
I have seen both types of leaves on these plants and they have both been referred to a wild lettuce. I have both of these growing all over my yard. Which is which?
Hi Jim, lots of pictures above in the article and online, you will need to make your own observations to identify the plant. It bears repeating that you should never ingest anything you are unsure of!
Can the wild lettuce sap be frozen without harming the pain killing properties?
Sorry I have no idea about this, would be a lot easier to store by making tincture as described in the article, that way it will still be effective even if the power is down.
Thankyou so much for this informative and thorough piece!
I suffer from chronic pain due to endometriosis, as well as anxiety, and funny enough, I have a prickly wild lettuce that started growing in a pot and killed the other plant in it. I thought it was a weed as most of us do, but as a fun experiment, wanted to give it a chance and see how big it would grow.. I even fertilised and cared for it.
It grew up past my roof, about 7ft!!
My partner got sick of it tipping over, (and I thought after a while that a 34yr old as me shouldn’t find something like this so entertaining) so he cut it halfway but I still have a lot more left and cant wait to make some in the morning!! I stumbled on this tonite in my frustration of trying to find a better way to manage my chronic pain instead of using prescription medication.
You’re a lifesaver!
Hey Nat – be interested to know if any of the methods here worked for you. Please report back with your experiences.
If I make a tea does the liquid have to be hot?
Can I just take the powder and mix in cool liquid and take it that way?
I don’t know for sure, generally the heat in the water extracts the compounds but other research suggests that boiling water may inhibit some of the compounds. Only way to find out for sure is to test, let us know if you come to any solid conclusions.
Can I grind it to a powder and put it in empty caps and take it like a pill.
Should work if you can get enough of it in a concentrated form.
I have seen these plants growing in my yard, looked like a 3-4 foot, multi-flowered dandelions. Last year, I thought I’d look it up but had forgotten to do so.
In my search for info on Wild Lettuce, low and behold, what I forgot to look up last summer was staring me right in the face on your site! Discovered Milk Thistle that way as well! (Who knew that was what CrabGrass grew into?!?)
Will definitely be letting these plants turn to seed for planting next year and then make me some tea with the rest!
I deal with Chronic Pain as a result of a car accident 20 years ago and have developed Fibro within the last decade, so I am looking for pain relief! Surgery is not on my list of things to do for the spinal issues and opioids help to a degree but are not the answer due to their side effects.
Curious though, Milk Thistle and Dandelion are great for liver detoxing, do you think the Wild Lettuce may have the same properties?
So looking forward to starting my Medicinal Garden this year!!
I don’t think this plant would be suitable for liver detox but if anyone knows different please drop a comment. We also have a post on medicinal gardens which may be of interest.
I use as a tea for sleep as I am in pain from trauma accident.Grows wild in my d sert garden den. I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A TOPICAL PAIN RELIEF SALVE? Does anyone have a recipe for this and if so thier success? Thank you ~
This is the first time I’ve commented on an article. I was so impressed and grateful I feel I need to. First off this is the most informative and useful article I’ve run across in my quest for natural home remedies. I’ve been researching wild lettuce and it’s uses off and on for a couple of months. I appreciate that you explain and show the differences between the two types, how mature the plant should be at to harvest, the many ways of using it & the recipes. I could go on with the praise but let me just say I was confused as most sites same they are the same; Wild opium lettuce aka prickly lettuce. After reading your article I feel confident about identifying, harvesting, preparing, and using it as well as, cautions that should be heeded. ALL the information covered in ONE PLACE—Priceless!!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge!
Hey Jolee, delighted we could help. Really appreciate the feedback and after a couple of tough weeks this is just what we need. Let us know how you get on if you do go ahead and use it.
Oklahoma has tons of the spiny version
If the sap is concentrated in the stem wouldn’t you want to use the stem in the tea as well?
Will it help nerve pain?
Can’t comment on specific cases but this is a general painkiller so definitely worth trying it out.
MY NAME IS JULIE 50 YEARS OLD BEEN THROUGH A HORRIBLE ACCIDENT DRUNK DRIVER HIT MY FRIEND KILLED HER AND LEFT ME TO DIE, BROKEN JAW 2 PLACES, WHIPLASH, CONCUSSION, SPINAL DAMAGE AND ACDF 2017, BROKEN RIBS, BROKEN FINGERS, DISLOCATED RIGHT KNEE AND SHATTERED LEFT ANKLE, CHRONIC PAIN. PTSD. I STARTED USING IT AFTER A SHAMEN FRIEND RECOMENDED IT. I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH SCLERODERMA, LUPUS AND PLATYBASIA, AND CHIARI MALFORMATION 1 MY HANDS SLOWLY BEING DESTROYED. THE PAIN WAS AWEFUL NOW TAKING THIS ABSOLUTE RELIEF. NO PAIN PAINTING, ACTIVE, GARDENING, WALKING, NO HEADACHES, NO NOSE BLEEDS, MY MOOD IS BETTER, EATING BETTER, FEEL GREAT I RECOMMEND THIS TO EVERYONE. THE FACT THE PHARMA PEOPLE AND FDA DO NOT IS CRIMINAL
Actually it’s probably a good thing that FDA & big pharma don’t because they would try to own it, put a price on it, and regulate it. As it is, it’s free and everyone can use it as needed. But I know what you mean. Who knows how much more effective it could be if it was processed to produce it’s highest potential to help individuals suffering from various levels of pain.
my plants are still young about 6 months old was disappointed they did not seed ths year and not seeing to much sap, i would like to ask if any growers would recommend a high nitrogen ferterliser for next spring and i was thinking a peat moss type soil for beter soil also at the moment i am keeping them in pots so this year i think they would be ready for the garden i dont really want to use insecticides but with slugs ect they would not survive without it so would be grateful if anyone can recommend a lactuca virosa friendly insecticide
It’s a biennial plant.. it will flower every other year. The first year will be the rosette second year the tall stalk will grow and flower. It’s most potent while flowering… I use as a tincture for bursitis in my hip and it’s a life saver.
Here in South Australia, I only see the plants with highly-indented leaves. Maybe only one species has reached here? I have been using this plant daily for more than 2 years for chronic pain, diagnosed as “fibromyalgia” by my old doctor, plus osteoporosis and back pain. It helps a lot, but I need several doses / day; about every 2 hours. Worse in the past year and I take it when I wake at night, too.
I have sleep apnoea and am now seeking help for that. I hope life gets better soon eg less pain and waking. Maybe I will need less WL, if I get better sleep. It is a vicious cycle; pain-poor sleep = worse pain – worse sleep ….
I take paracetamol, sometimes aspirin too. CBD oil each morning helps with malaise from poor sleep. WL is the best! I used to brew it in water every day but that is a hassle and I need help FAST once I rise in the morning. Infusions in wine do not keep long. Infusions in vodka and glycerine are fattening and taste horrible. I used a vodka/glycerine mix for a while; it was handy to keep a small bottle in my purse, in case I had no “herbal tea” with me, but we have random breath-testing of drivers for alcohol here, so this formulation is not convenient if I will be driving soon after a dose!
I gather plants from my suburban environment. I used to wash the plants, but they tended to go mouldy before I could dry them, leading to me discarding THREE batches gathered with SO MUCH EFFORT AND PAIN in my first harvest summer! Now I rely on a brief boiling of the brew, to render it hygieinic. It still works! I wonder why people say this stuff is so very heat sensitive?
This summer, I gathered a huge amount, as I plan to offer it (free) to friends who are ill / disabled. I am now gradually reducing it to the tarry concentrate. This involves boiling the dry powdered material BRIEFLY. Then I try to evaporate the liquid gently but the final stage is in a dehydrator at 70C and IT STILL WORKS! I will store the residue in the freezer. Eventually, I plan to leave some residue at RT and see how well it retains potency (shelf life). It lasts at least 10 months at 4C.
I add vodka to residue to get a convenient liquid medication and for me a dose of that is 10 – 15 drops. Licking sticky fingers during processing residue, I find the residue tastes like liquorice, but not as sweet. The bitterness is not a problem, at that stage.
Hello, just a suggestion regarding your pain. You may have heard this before but I’d like to suggest something that really works wonders for me. I’ll admit I only do it seasonally because I really do like eating meat (and for a reason I’ll share at the end)….. Try going completely vegetarian. I know, I know… but… First, do a cleanse like you would for a colonoscopy (available from the pharmacy in a little package) . Clean all the material from your intestines and then eat no more animal protein whatsoever. “nothing that ever had a mommy or a daddy” so they say. That includes (unfortunately) butter , eggs, cheese, all that good stuff. After about 4 weeks all the inflammation in your joints will go away, as will your sleep apnea and pretty much anything else that isnt a result of a physical injury. It is absolutely horrible how well it works because I love steak and cheese and so many other things that I can’t eat when I’m on this… and just as a bit of background I’m a 40 something male that has worked construction for the last 25 years. I’ve had a couple back injuries and take painkillers regularly. I do this in the summer when I go back to work. Partially because when I eat meat I want to sleep and that does nothing for my desire to earn money (I work for myself), so i go vegetarian. As an added bonus you can throw your deodorant out as well because it is the animal protein that makes you smell. The fact that you can’t yourself but you can smell anyone who does eat meat a mile away is to me the only bad point. Being able to leave the pills at home is worth every bit though. btw, the only reason I go back to eating meat in the winter is because I live in Canada and I find that I get cold if I don’t… Go figure eh?
Have you tried making capsules from the dehydrated extract? (I can’t tell from your description if this is what you are doing or not.) Thank you for your comments!
If I’m not mistaken, in much the same way that Cannabis Indica will change to Cannabis sativa when the seeds (from the west coast) are planted farther east (ontario) this (wild lettuce) has changed in Ontario to Laticus Sativa. I’m not sure if any variety of our lettuce that we grow as food would revert back to wild if left on its own but the effects of our commercially available lettuce are still similar (but much weaker) than its wild counterpart. Specifically the calming effects it produces when eaten. I remember reading accounts of people harvesting the milky white sap of the wild lettuce and comparing its effects to that of laudanum. I believe that this is where its connection to opium comes from.
My information for the most part comes from a book by John Lust called the herb book. Here is a link to it if your interested.
John Lust – Herb Book
Interesting stuff, thanks J.
What if I just boil the leaves fresh and take them out after they begin to boil. And then eat the leaves and pour the remaining water into a cup and drink it as tea? Do the leaves have to be dried? Or can you drink the juice after a fresh boil?
You can. However, you will probably need to steep the leaves for much longer in order to get the same potency as dried leaves are better at releasing their properties into the water.
Any success making this as a pain reliever salve?
I’m not sure how it would work as a topical agent. Most forms of pain need to be treated with internal medicine. And, for types of pain which are localized (arthritis, for example), some other salves might be a much better choice. Obviously it’s going to vary drastically depending on the type of pain.
Topical pain relievers generally work best applied on blood vessels near the pain zones. Less amounts are used and it’s about 85% more effective for pain relief. This is true with prescription topical pain gels & lotions as well as homemade ones.
If you don’t have a copy of Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs (a Peterson Field Guide) its well worth the investment.
with respect to Lactucarium an active ingredient, it was at one time recognized as an official drug both in the US and Europe…
I tried to find some specific information on lactopicrin but was unsuccessful perhaps because it is a conjunction or trivial name not recognized in the literature. I found a similar sounding compound lactucopicrin which is listed as a sesquiterpene commonly obtained from Lactuca species.
Another source of information I have found to be reasonably trustworthy is Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wild-lettuce links to their article.
This article discusses in-depth what is known and proven and where the available data taper off. It also has suggestions for other homeopathic remedies that might be more effective and safer alternatives.
Is it ok to just eat some leaves rather than make a tea or tincture?
It should be okay but, for medicinal benefits, teas or tinctures are usually better. The active ingredients in most herbs is easier to absorb from water than from food. You are also able to get higher concentrations of the active ingredients as a tea or tincture. Just consider how much plant material goes into a tincture to make a small amount — you wouldn’t want to eat all that, especially if you were ill or in so much pain that you were vomiting.
FYI in the beginning of the article there is a mistaken identification of milk thistle as lactusa serriola, but later it goes on to identify prickly lettuce correctly as lactusa serriola. This might confuse some people so I thought I would point that out.
Actually I now see that there are two plants that are known as milk thistle, one being Lactusa serriola, the other being Silybum marianum (the more well known medicinal milk thistle that helps your liver). My bad.
Thank for the comment and checking the article 🙂 . Plant ID is really tricky because so many plants have multiple names and people rarely use the latin names (even those are tricky because lots of plants are in the same genus and, to us non-botanists, seem identical.
How long will a resin last in the refrigerator? How long at room temperature?
It should last a very long time (sorry – I can’t give you exact times). However, with any medicinal substance, the active ingredients usually start deteriorating after a while. It’s generally best to store items in a cool, dark, dry place. Fridge would beat room temperature in most cases.
In this article you mentioned the “white milky substance known as latex”, is this a concern for people like myself who have Latex allergies? I am allergic to dandelion and many other weeds but do not like taking over the counter medicine/chemicals.
*I’m not a doctor* but I have heard about people having allergic reactions to plants which contain latex (including wild lettuce). So it’s better that you avoid it.
How long do the effects last?
There are too many variables to that question: how bad the pain is, how much you took, how you prepared the wild lettuce, the strength of the formula, the age of the plant when you made the formula. Unfortunately, that’s an issue with all natural remedies since they don’t get standardized. :/
There is a little misinformation in the article. You say it can be mistaken with Lactuca Serriola (milk thistle) While Serriola is sometimes called milk thistle, it is more commonly known as Prickly Lettuce & also contains Lactucarium just like Virosa does and it is in the wild lettuce family.
The plant that people are usually referring to when they use the name milk thistle is Silybum marianum, which actually is a thistle. When you buy a milk thistle supplement or dried plant material, you will be getting Silybum marianum.
I like this article, but have a question. Do you think a tincture made with green leaves and stems would be as potent as boiling the stalks?
I did not mean boiling. I should have said cooking the stalks.
I don’t have any scientific info as to which is more potent. With other medicinal plants, I believe resins are usually more potent, but making resins requires heat, which can destroy some of the active compounds — thus resins might not be more potent than a tincture. Really, it comes down to 1)ease of making and 2) how quickly you need the medicine. Tinctures are easier to make but you’ve got to wait a long time. So, resin is the way to go if you need pain relief right away.
My lettuce in NE Wisconsin does not have the spines on the back of the leaves but matches in every other aspect. I tried a little of the bitter sap and it seemed to help my back pain and my insomnia. My son called me 15 times and I didn’t hear a thing.
I can say without a doubt that it works for pain. It also will give you the best sleep you’ll ever have. When it goes to seed you take the seed and put it in a jar and keep it in the fridge. I have 5 planters on my deck and it came back and it filled those planters. BE SURE to give it water or you’ll lose the leaves. I have a Native American neighbor who brought a whole plant with root and I replanted it and it grew. One of the VERY BEST plants for pain. Without a doubt. It probably grows where you live. Find out online and then go get it. You will not be sorry. I’m 70 and have had injections in my back, pills, etc. This lettuce works far better than all these.