Wild Lettuce is an herb which is not considered a vegetable like the common green lettuce. Wild lettuce is more popular for its “opium-like” effects due to its sedative and psychotropic properties.
Wild lettuce is also known as the compass plant because the pale green and purple colored prickly leaves of the herb often change directions to follow the sun. The following article discusses in detail the herbal health related benefits associated with the wild lettuce plant.
What is Wild Lettuce?
Wild Lettuce is scientifically known as Lactuca virosa, and the herb belongs to the lactuca genus and the sunflower family. Other common names of wild lettuce include the following – Acrid lettuce, Green Endive, Bitter Lettuce etc.
Wild lettuce is a biannual plant that can grow up to a height of six feet. As a plant, wild lettuce can be predominantly seen in the following parts of the world – England, Pakistan, India, North America and Australia.
Wild lettuce contains a type of bitter tasting milky juice that can be extracted from almost any part of the plant. The leaves, seed and latex of this herb are used in herbal medicinal preparations.
How does it work?
Wild lettuce contains the following – lactucic acid, lactucopicrin, lactucone and lactucin. The herb is sedative, diuretic and analgesic in nature.
Health Benefits of Wild Lettuce
It is believed that the Ancient Greeks and Romans used this herb as a food crop. Wild Lettuce has a few health related benefits which include the following:
As a Sedative
The herb acts as a mild sedative and induces sleep. Due to its sedative and narcotic nature, the herb can be used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Also, Wild lettuce reduces the feeling of excitability and restlessness.
For Pain Relief
Due to its sedative nature, wild lettuce can also be used for relieving pain. The herb can be beneficial for solving the following – arthritic pain, muscle pain, gas related pain and uterine cramps in women.
For the Skin
Another benefit of Wild lettuce is in treating chapped skin. Locals use the latex of the herb topically to treat minor skin related issues such as infections.
Wild Lettuce is also used for treating whooping cough and dry cough. According to some, the seeds of the herb can be used to treat hardening of the arteries. The herb is diuretic and can help in increasing perspiration. Some also associate the herb with the treatment of the following conditions – excessive sex drive in women which is also known as nymphomania and priapism in men.
According to some, 30 to 60 drops of the herbal tincture can be used per day.
Wild lettuce is considered safe only when used in small amounts. In some, the herb may cause the following side effects – skin irritation and dizziness. Avoid the herb if you have any one of the following conditions – allergy, benign prostatic hyperplasia and Narrow-angle glaucoma. Pregnant & breastfeeding women should also avoid using this herb.
Wild Lettuce is an herb that offers mild psychotropic effect that makes it an ideal remedy for pain relief and anxiety related issues. However, Overdose of the herb may lead to breathing problems and possible death. In the market, the herb is available in the following forms – capsules, dried leaves, fresh leaves, powder, tincture and tea.
Wild Lettuce might interact with CNS depressants due to its sedative and psychotropic actions.