Lactuca virosa is harvested in the summer when it is in flower & is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, expectorant,anti-asthmatic, narcotic & sedative properties.
Known as "lettuce opium" it is also helpful for adults who suffer from insomnia, restlessness, anxiety or neurosis.
Wild Lettuce has similar properties to opium but contains no alkaloids structurally similar to opiates & it doesn’t cause nausea typical for opiates, nor is it addictive.
Wild lettuce is a natural sedative, it is very good for an over-excited nervous system, causes relaxation & euphoria.
Wild lettuce leaf & stem infusion can be taken internally in the treatment of rheumatic pain ,fever , depression & irrational fear,whooping cough, asthma, urinary tract problems, excitability in children, painful menstrual periods, excessive sex drive in women, muscular or joint pains, poor circulation, swollen genitals in men & as an opium substitute in cough preparations.
Furthermore it can relieve colic pains in the intestines & uterus.
Apply sap to cuts & scrapes.
Apply wild lettuce latex directly to the skin to kill germs.
Flowers & seeds infusion can be taken for headache.
The seed oil can be used for atherosclerosis as a substitute for wheat germ oil.
Wild lettuce is used as an effective pain reliever.
Eating large amounts of raw wild lettuce can cause sweating, fast heartbeat, pupil dilation, dizziness, ringing in the ears, vision changes, sedation, breathing difficulty & death.
Also, normal medicinal doses of this plant can cause drowsiness.
Excessive doses cause restlessness & overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis.
Applying wild lettuce directly to the skin can cause irritation.
Don’t use wild lettuce if you have enlarged prostate,it contains a chemical that can harm people who have trouble urinating.
Wild lettuce may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies.
Don’t use wild lettuce if you have an eye condition called narrow-angle glaucoma. It contains a chemical that might make glaucoma worse.
Wild lettuce can affect the central nervous system. There is a concern that it might cause too much sleepiness if it is taken along with anesthesia & other nerve-numbing medications used during & after surgery. Stop using wild lettuce at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Wild lettuce sap can be made into an alcohol tincture or the fresh leaves & flowering tops can be tinctured, or dried & taken as teas or smoked .
The leaves 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.
add 1-2 tsp of the wild lettuce leaves in a cup of boiling water & steep for 10-15 minutes.
This drink may be taken 3x daily.
It has a bitter flavoring & is best used as a tea with lemon,honey or with sugar.
To fight irritable coughs wild lettuce may be combined with wild cherry bark.
2-4 ml of the tincture prepared with the leaves of wild lettuce may be taken 3x every day.
Tincture is best mixed with valerian root & hops as sleeping aid.
A syrup made from a strong infusion is an excellent anodyne - it eases the most violent pains of the colic & other disorders & gently disposes the patient to sleep,relieves spasms, convulsions.
Apply sap as lotion to treat chapped skin.
In magic the wild lettuce is used in spells to preserve chastity; for rites of protection & to aid divination, particularly in the matters of romance.
Pagans use wild lettuce as an incense aid for divination, especially when working with darker deities.
The Hopi believe that induced dream states contain more information about reality than the conscious waking state. Wild lettuce was not only used in ritual to help achieve visionary & trace states, it was used to enhance the vividness of dreams when smoked prior to sleep.Dried resin was obtained when the flower was cut off of the plant, then air-dried & later smoked in ritual. Similar effects could be obtained from smoking dried Wild Lettuce leaves, but never as potent as the resin extracted daily from the flowers.
Gently simmer 30 g of Wild Lettuce dried leaf per person over 8 hours, stirring often.
As the water evaporated, a gummy residue is left behind.Remove this resin carefully & seal in the airtight
container.30 g of herb typically produces about 1/2 of a gram of resin & the 1/2 gram of resin was smoked in one sitting during rituals.
Wild Lettuce Leaf was often used among Native Americans in religious ritual as an aid in seeking meditative trances & visions & to create more vivid dreams.
Wild lettuce was also said to promote child-bearing if eaten in salads by young women, or taken in the form of decoctions made from the juice or seeds.