Wild lettuce is one of the most important plants to understand if you’re in a survival situation.
Wild lettuce is a plant that’s used to make various medications. It’s known for its calming, relaxing, and pain-relieving effects. Wild lettuce is also known as Acrid Lettuce, Bitter Lettuce, German Lactucarium, Green Endive, Lactuca virosa, Lactucarium, and Lettuce Opium.
Whether you’re a survivalist or you just like to know some trivia about natural plants and herbs, here’s the lowdown on wild lettuce. This plant is easy to find and it’s amazing how it can help to relieve aches and pains. Instead of popping a pill, you can try wild lettuce instead.
A Look at Wild Lettuce
Wild lettuce’s scientific name is lactuca virosa, a name that refers to its naturally milky juice. You can recognize wild lettuce by its yellow flowers but it also has distinctive leaves that are short, smooth, and spined.
It’s easy to mistake milk thistle for wild lettuce so look for other distinguishing features. For example, the plant can grow to be as tall as a man and the milk-like substance comes out of it once it’s cut down.
This substance turns yellow and eventually brown after pouring out of the plant. It is this fluid that gives wild lettuce its painkilling properties.
The liquid contains lactucin and lactucopicrin. Lactucin is a natural analgesic and works as a sedative. It has been shown to fight against malaria too. Besides wild lettuce, lactucin is also found in dandelion root, a natural digestive aid.
As for lactucopicrin, this is a more bitter component that acts on the central nervous system. It too has analgesic and sedative properties and has been shown to be antimalarial in vitro.
How can you find Wild Lettuce in nature?
Besides being a native plant to regions of India, wild lettuce also grows in the northwestern United States, Washington in particular. It has a history of being used by the Native Americans, which could explain its growth in parts of the U.S. Native American communities would use wild lettuce as a pain remedy but also for lucid dreaming as it works as a relaxant to help insomnia and restlessness.
Wild lettuce could be used as a pain reliever to help with spider bites.
Growing Wild Lettuce
If you don’t live in an area where wild lettuce grows naturally, you can always plant it yourself. The plant is hardy and will be a mainstay in your garden once it gets going. It needs a lot of sun exposure and moist soil that drains easily. For the best results, the pH of the soil should be 7.
You can also grow wild lettuce seeds in damp potting soil. Soak the seeds for a half-hour prior to planting them. The optimal growing temperature for this plant is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it takes anywhere from two to four weeks to germinate.
Wild (Opium) Lettuce
Wild lettuce is sometimes referred to as opium lettuce, thanks to its sedative properties. In fact, people who are recovering from cannabis overuse sometimes use wild lettuce as a substitute.
Back in the 1800s, people would use wild lettuce as a replacement for opium whenever there was a shortage. The medicinal uses of this plant can be traced back to ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, where art depicts the plant being used as a remedy.
Even though wild lettuce sometimes goes by the name “opium lettuce,” it is not an addictive plant and does not come with any of the side effects of opiates.
The natural medicinal properties of Wild Lettuce
According to WebMD, Wild lettuce is used for whooping cough, asthma, urinary tract problems, cough, trouble sleeping (insomnia), restlessness, excitability in children, painful menstrual periods, excessive sex drive in women (nymphomania), muscular or joint pains, poor circulation, swollen genitals in men (priapism), and as an opium substitute in cough preparations.
It’s used to treat so many different things that it really pays to understand how to use it!
The lactones in the wild lettuce juices have an effect on the central nervous system and the nerves that release pain signals. The pain-relieving benefits of this plant mimic those of a dosage of ibuprofen.
Throughout the years, studies have shown that wild lettuce is effective against menstrual cramps, rheumatism, and urinary tract infections.
Wild Lettuce Tincture
There are a few different ways to prepare the plant so you can experience its pain-relieving properties. The first way is as a tincture, taking just a few drops at a time. To prepare a wild lettuce tincture, you need a stripper or a liquid that will allow the plant’s active compounds to dissolve.
One choice is vodka, although you can also use vegetable glycerin or 190-proof cane spirits. Typically, you want to use a 1:2 ratio of stripper to wild lettuce. So, once you have your stripper, add eight ounces of it to a blender along with four big pieces of lettuce. Let it sit for a few minutes before blending it, then strain it.
First, run it through a fine-mesh strainer followed by a coffee filter. You can pour the tincture into a vial or dark glass jar. Take 12 to 24 drops of it two or three times a day.
Wild Lettuce Tea
Another way to reap the benefits of wild lettuce is as a tea since its components are water-soluble. Gather the leaves and allow them to dry before grinding them. Then, steep one or two teaspoons of the dried, crushed leaves in one cup of water for three to five minutes. You can take this tea up to three times a day.
Wild Lettuce Resin
To make a wild lettuce resin, gather up some leaves and blend them so they’re a rough mixture. Add them to a pot and cover them with water. Heat them over low heat, being extremely careful not to let the water boil because this will destroy the pain-relieving components.
As it heats up, the water should turn green; continue heating and stirring occasionally for a half-hour before straining it through a fine mesh. Collect the liquid and heat it again over low, stirring frequently, until the water evaporates and what’s left is wild lettuce extract concentrate or resin. Take 1.5 grams of it as needed for pain.
Finally, some even suggest that you can smoke wild lettuce! I don’t recommend it but you can take dried leaves and roll them into a cigarette. You can also use them in a vaporizer. You can find leaves on Amazon.
Potential Side Effects of Wild Lettuce
While wild lettuce doesn’t have any super-harmful side effects, it’s important to be aware of any potential sensations that you might feel upon taking it. These include enhanced color and vivid dreams, loss of balance, lethargy, and distorted vision.
It’s very hard to overdose on wild lettuce and staying hydrated should help to lessen any adverse effects. Of course, wild lettuce hasn’t been evaluated by the FDA but it’s a natural supplement that’s been used for hundreds of years by native peoples.
Wild lettuce is a natural pain reliever with many other effects that can be helpful if you don’t have access to traditional medicine or doctors. Learn what it looks like and what it’s used for so you have that knowledge in case you happen to need it in the future!