Biological Name: Lactuca virosa
Other Names: Wild Lettuce, Lettuce Opium
Parts Used: Dried leaves
Lactucin, a sesquiterpene lactone
Flavonoids; mainly based on quercitin
Coumarins; cichoriin and aesculin
Remedies For: Nervine, anodyne, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic.
Wild Lettuce is a valuable remedy for use in insomnia, restlessness and excitability (especially in children) and other manifestations of an over active nervous system. As an anti-spasmodic it can be used as part of a holistic treatment of whooping cough and dry irritated coughs in general. It will relieve colic pains in the intestines and uterus and so may be used in dysmennhorea. It will ease muscular pains related to rheumatism. It has been used as an anaphrodisiac.
Wild lettuce has been used as a pain-reliever as an alternative to opium, but it is much milder and does not have the side effects of opium. Lactuca virosa was used in the 19th century by physicians when opium could not be obtained. It was studied extensively by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in 1911. They discovered two chemicals responsible for the properties of L. virosa; lactucopicrin and lactucin. In the United States, the plant experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s. Today the plant is un-scheduled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning it is legal to grow, purchase and own without prescription or license.
Combinations : For irritable coughs it may be used with Wild Cherry Bark. For insomnia it combines with Valerian and Pasque Flower.
Dosage: Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the leaves and let infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.
Safety:No information available. Some herbs are known to react with your medication. Please consult your physician before starting on any herb.