For centuries, people have known that wild lettuce is an herbal remedy.
Hum. Rabbits know this. Ducks and chickens know this. Indigenous people know this. The Native Americans used the wild lettuces as a natural pain reliever and medicinal remedy.
Luckily, wild lettuce and many other traditional medicines are making a comeback.
Wild lettuce commonly refers to the wild-growing relatives of common garden lettuces. Green endive and Bitter lettuce are wild lettuces, and many species are merely considered common weeds to most people; edible weeds found in every country all over the world.
In alternative medicine, certain compounds in wild lettuce have been used for lowering stress and reducing pain, and for the following health conditions:
- Joint pain
- Menstrual pain
The consumption of wild lettuce by wild animals should be enough to prove its health benefits, but a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2006 found that the chemicals in wild lettuce, lactucin and lactucopicrin, reduced pain and promoted sedation in mice.
Wild lettuce seed oil can be used to prevent hardening of the arteries and as a substitute for wheat germ oil. Some people apply wild lettuce latex from the sap directly to their skin to kill germs.
Hey, that’s a healthy alternative to anti-bacterial soaps.
Like any wild, leafy herb, grass, or leafy vegetable, wild lettuce does contain concentrated chemicals, like lactucarium, lettucelactucin, and lactucopicrin. The milky substance, the sap, contains the natural chemicals lactucin and lactucopicrin.
These are the chemicals responsible for the pain killing properties.
Obviously, these chemicals have mind-altering effects if they can relieve pain, but these natural chemicals are not like “drugs“; the effects may be similar, but wild lettuce is nothing like the Big Pharma prescriptions, like opioids.
The safety of eating wild lettuces and weeds likens a similar debate today concerning the health benefits of hemp and CBD oil. Let’s simply assume that Nature has lots of healthy alternatives that you can use for less money and no looming dependencies.
I think that it’s time to do more research into the many, natural foods that can be used to replace expensive, additive drugs.
But that’s just me. I’m a naturalist.
It seems odd to mention side effects from eating lettuce, doesn’t it? I suppose that there are some, but few have been documented, studied or proven to be toxic.
It is always smart to be cautious, especially if you are sensitive to some foods or herbs, and remember that the over-consumption of any food or drug can become an issue of concern. Wild lettuce should be safe in small amounts. The overuse of anything – even water – can have side effects.
I don’t know too many people who are allergic to lettuce, but everyone is different, so you never know. As always, be cautious when eating any wild plant or herb.
History of Use
Wild lettuce was commonly used in medicine in the early 19th century, particularly for whooping cough.
Its health benefits were recorded as helpful for asthma, coughs and used in cough preparations, for trouble sleeping, painful menstrual periods, muscular and joint pain, poor circulation, and swollen prostates in men.
Wild lettuce was also used as a form of Ritalin for restlessness and excitability in children – a 19th century label for ADD/ADHD.
Wild lettuce has been called “opium lettuce” because it was used for medicine during the 19th century when opium couldn’t be obtained. The plant is not addictive, like opium, and it does NOT cause the side effects of opiates such as upset stomach.
It is sad how much knowledge we have lost over the years; we’ve forgotten so many of Nature’s medicinal remedies – including the ones that can be found in our backyards.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. The FDA may not have evaluated some of the statements. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding supplements or making any changes to your dietary program.
Before taking vitamins, consult your doctor; pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking can affect how your body responds to multivitamins.