PACIFIC NORTHWEST GROWN. Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa), Cut and Sifted, Wild Harvested
Common names: Bitter Lettuce, Great Lettuce, Opium Lettuce, Giftsallat, Rakutu Karyumu So
Wild Lettuce is a biennial relative of cultivated lettuce, native to central and southern Europe, and naturalized in North America, Australia, and parts of the Indian subcontinent. It is tall, sometimes reaching heights of up to 6 feet, and grows on banks and in waste places.
When cut or torn, the plant secretes a milky juice known as lactucarium, which contains lactucin and lactupicrin, sesquiterpene lactones that provide the sedative and analgesic properties Wild Lettuce is known for. Recent tests showed that these compounds possess pain relieving effects comparable to ibuprofen.
Lactucarium was used by nineteenth century physicians as a substitute for Opium, in times when Opium was scarce; to relieve uterine and intestinal cramps; as a diuretic and laxative; and to alleviate the spasmodic cough in pertussis.
Moderate doses of Wild Lettuce appear to be safe and effective, and its active ingredients do not interact with opiate receptors. However, trace amounts of hyoscyamine may also be present in the plant, and attempted recreational use of concentrated Lactuca extracts has led to unfortunate outcomes.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.