In this article, you will learn about a brief history of Wild lettuce, it’s various uses, it’s common side effects, how it can be processed for consumption and most importantly why it is also known as opium lettuce.
What is a Wild Lettuce and what are its uses:
Wild lettuce aka. opium lettuce is a natural remedy for various conditions like asthma, urinary tract problem, insomnia, muscle or joint pains, poor circulation, swollen genitals in men(priapism) and as an opium substitute in cough syrup preparations.
The leaves may also be directly applied to the skin to kill germs.
Opium lettuce(as it is commonly called) has a calming, relaxing and pain relieving effect and so it is often ingested recreationally to briefly find a moment of blissful solitude in this chaotic life.
The 3 most common medical uses of Wild Lettuce are, as follows:
- As a pain relief: The pain-relieving effects of the plant come from its milky white sap, whose active compounds is comparable to those found in prescription painkillers. This compound works by directly impacting the Central Nervous System and hence dulls the pain from within. It is widely recommended for people with a Migraine.
- As a sedative: The sedative properties of the plant make it extremely useful for people with insomnia and anxiety. It produces a calm dizzy effect in the body which makes it much easier for people to doze off. Also, as an added benefit you get a euphoric effect and hence fantastic dreams.
- Against Respiratory Tract Infection: The Wild lettuce greatly reduces the itching in your throat and irritation in your lungs. It also loosens your mucus and thus can provide a much-needed relief for breathing difficulties.
Brief History and Distribution of Wild Lettuce:
This magnificent plant has been used for its sedative and analgesic effects since ancient Greece.
Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine had noted the sedative effects of the plant’s sap about 2500 years ago.
It was also very popular among the 19th-century physicians, who used it mainly for recreational purposes when opium could not be obtained.
It’s recent resurgence, however, has been in the United States in the late 70’s where it received massive popularity among the hippie community for its psychotropic properties.
Coming to the distribution it can be found coastally in Great-Britan and in parts of north-east Ireland. The plant is also widespread across much of central and southern Europe. The plant also grows in wild across the border of India and Pakistan and also in Australia.
In Northern America, the plant can be found throughout the continent but is mainly concentrated in California, Alabama, Iowa and Washington DC where it grows in the wild.
Learn more about the plant in this video titled, “How to make the Ultimate Painkilling Tincture”, utilizing information from the book ‘The Lost Ways.’
Recreational Use of Opium Lettuce and its Legality:
One of the most common uses these days of Wild Lettuce is as a recreational drug. It produces a mild euphoria like the effect produced by opiates, although it does not contain actual opiates.
The 2 main reasons for it’s growing popularity are:
It is unscheduled by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA), which means that you can grow, purchase, own and use Opium Lettuce without a prescription or license.
It has many health benefits and is non-addictive.
Methods of Usage and Preparation:
- As a Tea: The easiest method of preparation by cutting the leaves and stems of Wild Lettuce and preparing a tea. Although the plant has a naturally bitter taste, adding honey or sugar to it can make the tea much better. It is an acquired taste like coffee and when regularly taken, starts tasting much better.
- Preparing a tincture: You can prepare a tincture and store it in a glass container in your cabinet. Following video shows a detailed method to prepare a Wild Lettuce tincture.
- Diffusion: You can use dried Wild Lettuce with a vapouriser and inhale its mist.
- Smoked Directly: Although not recommended due to the obvious ill effects of smoke, you could use it as a smoking blend. The effect provided by smoking is milder than compared to that of drinking tea, but it takes effect sooner. However, the smoke is very bitter and tastes very bad. Although some people may acquire the taste of smoking it, but I do not recommend it at all.
Dosing and Side-Effects:
Now that you know how to prepare Wild Lettuce, the question arises, “How much should I consume?”
Although there is no appropriated dosing, it depends on factors like age, health, size and history of usage.
It is generally quite safe for everyone to use on small doses. So start with small doses like a cup of tea every night or a joint and experiment your way upwards. But do prevent its use in the following cases:
- Pregnancy: As it is not a standard over the counter drug, hence not much is known about its effects during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. So to be on the safe side, it is best to avoid it during such times.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia(BPH): Wild Lettuce could in rare cases prove harmful for people who have trouble urinating. So it is best to avoid it’s usage if you have an enlarged prostate.
- Narrow-Angle Glaucoma: This plant has been known to make glaucoma worse, so do not use it if you have this eye condition.
- Allergy to plants of the same family: If you are allergic to chrysanthemum, ragweed, marigold, daisies and other plants of the Asteraceae/Compositae family then be sure to check with a medical practitioner before using it.
Identification in the Wild:
It is a biennial plant and so during its first year it grows leaves, stems and roots. The stem in its first year is short and the leaves are close to the ground. When the next summer arrives, the stem elongates greatly and the plant may grow up to 200 cm(80 inches or almost 7 feet). Hence it is a rather tall plant. Also in this phase, it produces yellow flowers.
The image below shows the round yellow flowers of the plant.
Where to find Wild Lettuce and How to Grow it:
You can buy wild lettuce seeds or its products( cream, extract, tea-leaf, etc.) in your local shop. They are also available online at Amazon and Bouncing Bear Botanicals.
If you happen to find it growing in the wild, then you could directly uproot it and take it with you if the plant is small. However, if the plant is big then you could take it’s stem and propagate it.
The most common method, however, is using seeds.
- Keep the seeds in a peat pot indoor(in a well-lighted area) for a few weeks.
- Then provide them with plenty of sunlight or artificial light until they germinate and are ready to be moved into the garden.
- To sow the seed in the garden, place the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in the soil. Then tamp them down a little and water them.
- Maintain even moisture and give it a little time. Soon you should have Wild lettuce growing all over your domestic garden!
For an in-depth knowledge of the plant and its uses, watch the following video. And if your are interested in similar content click here to know about the ultimate survival food, Pemmican and how to make it.