Health Benefits and Side Effects of Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce

We have all heard of plants and various herbs that have medicinal properties. Wild lettuce is one such herb that has a wide range of medicinal properties and health benefits.

This herb has a fascinating history, too. Widely used as a painkiller, wild lettuce is easy to grow at home and can be used in a variety of ways.

Even though some may consider it to be a drug, this herb is entirely legal to grow and consume.

wild lettuce-2

What is Wild Lettuce?

Wild lettuce or Lactuca Virosa is a plant with yellow flowers and pointed leaves.

Its leaves, sap, and seeds are used to make medicines.

Found commonly in North America and parts of England, this herb looks like a cross between a thistle and dandelion.

Its fluid contains enough medicinal properties to produce a powerful painkiller.

The medicinal use of wild lettuce dates back to Greek times.

Initially, the wild lettuce was used to ease the pain of soldiers during the time of scarcity of liquid opium.

Wild Lettuce: The Natural Pain-Killing Superfood

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Coping with pain can be very complicated. Sometimes, when one experiences pain, he/she will choose not to take traditional painkillers and instead opt for home remedies and natural products such as wild lettuce, for example, because of the medicinal and health benefits.

In addition to being called wild lettuce and Lactuca Virosa, this plant is also called opium lettuce. This herb has components called lactones which contribute to the pain-relieving process.

The lactones work by calming the nerves within the central nervous system that cause pain sensations. The active compounds of lactones can be compared to the distilled, synthetic versions found in prescription painkillers.

The herb’s health benefits are due to active compounds: lactucin and lactucopicrin. They are capable of relieving pain because they possess analgesic activity.

While wild lettuce is also called opium lettuce, this herb does not possess any opium-like qualities, other than its pain-relieving ability.

One will not experience any hard-core sedative effects after having consumed wild lettuce. On the contrary, its effect is like that of ibuprofen. According to one study, a 30 mg dose of lactucopicrin will have the same effect as a 60 mg dose of ibuprofen.

Other Health Benefits of Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce health benefits extend beyond those of a painkiller. Anxiety, sleep disorders, restlessness, cough, etc. are just a few problems that trouble all of us.

Wild lettuce

Many common ailments, such as these, can be treated by consuming a small quantity of wild lettuce.

1. Acts as a Mild Diuretic

Consumption of wild lettuce can increase the flow of urine in a person’s body. This remedy can be useful when one is suffering from urinary tract infections or kidney stones.

The increased flow of urine can help flush out impurities and other unwanted material from the body, naturally and quickly.

2. Helps Manage Sleep and Insomnia Issues

We have all had nights when we were unable to sleep for some reason or another. Wild lettuce benefits include improving sleep habits because it has sedative properties.

However, it may be beneficial to combine the wild lettuce dosage with a little valerian or Zzzquil for best results.

3. Helps with Anxiety and Restlessness

Sometimes, anxiety hits us the most when we least expect it, or rather, when we least want it. You may have come across people trying different methods to release anxiety and restlessness.

Some drink plenty of water; others opt for meditation or working out. However, wild lettuce, as a remedy, works just as well since it has some anxiety reducing properties. The mild sedation that it offers to the body helps calm the nerves and ease tension.

4. Cough and Asthma Treatment

One of the most significant wild lettuce benefits is that it helps ease the discomfort caused by a chronic cough. How does it do that?

By loosening and expelling phlegm from the respiratory tract. As a result, one finds it easier to breathe. Asthma patients may find this remedy extremely relieving.

How to Use Wild Lettuce

Now that we have discussed just how beneficial wild lettuce can be for the body and the mind, we must also discuss how to use wild lettuce.

Wild lettuce tea, wild lettuce extraction, and wild lettuce tinctures are some forms in which this useful herb can be consumed.

1. Wild Lettuce Tea

Wild lettuce tea is considered to be the easiest and most relaxing way of consuming the herb. If taken in the form of tea, its sedative properties don’t hit immediately, and it is soothing for the throat, too.

How to Prepare

  • Gather wild lettuce leaves.
  • Dry the leaves and then grind them.
  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons of the resulting mixture with one cup of water.
  • Let the combination boil for 3-5 minutes.
  • Strain and drink.

If the taste seems too bitter, you can add honey and lemon. Also, consider combining it with other herbs like chamomile or green tea leaves.

Related Reading: Turmeric Ginger Tea: Benefits, Nutrition, and Recipes

2. Wild Lettuce Extracts

If wild lettuce is not your cup of tea, literally, then you can also prepare wild lettuce extracts for consumption. It is a fairly easy process but requires mild caution.

How to Prepare

  • Gather wild lettuce leaves and put them in a blender.
  • Blend for a few seconds. Be careful; you don’t need to blend them completely.
  • Pour the now crushed leaves in a pot and add water (just enough to cover the powder).
  • Put the pot on low heat.
  • Don’t boil the mixture. Heat it for 30 minutes and stir it often.
  • Wait until the mixture turns dark green.
  • Strain the leaves through a fine mesh cloth.
  • Collect the liquid in a clean pot.
  • Heat on low again and stir frequently.
  • Ensure that the leaves do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • The water will eventually evaporate and will leave behind an extract of leaves.

3. Wild Lettuce Tincture

One other way of using wild lettuce for its benefits is by preparing its tincture. The tincture can then be applied to your skin or administered to the gums/tongue.

How to Prepare

  • Harvest an entire lettuce plant.
  • Chop it into small pieces.
  • Put it in the blender and add the appropriate stripper to the leaves (Stripper usually is the active compound you want to mix the leaves into. It could be propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin or alcoholic spirits like vodka).
  • Let the mixture sit for a while.
  • Blend it thoroughly.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine mesh cloth.
  • Collect the liquid in a jar.
  • Strain once again, this time through a coffee filter.
  • Collect the liquid in a jar.
  • Store the tincture in dark bottles.

Wild Lettuce Dosage

There is no prescribed quantity to regulate the consumption of wild lettuce. In fact, wild lettuce dosage depends on the physical build, age, and tolerance level of the individual. Conventionally, the dosage equation of wild lettuce is as follows:

30 mg of wild lettuce is equal to 60 mg of ibuprofen

Now, the regular use of ibuprofen is about 200 mg every 4-6 hours. Going by this rule, one can deduce that 100 mg of wild lettuce will be appropriate in the beginning.

However, one must keep in mind that consuming wild lettuce daily will reduce the effect it has on the body.

Side Effects

While wild lettuce has some very beneficial elements, it is also important to remember that too much of anything can be harmful.

Consuming it in high quantities can cause adverse effects. After all, it is essentially a drug and can have some side-effects, to include the following:

  • Lethargy: Since it has some sedative properties, consumption of wild lettuce can make you feel lethargic.
  • Vivid dreams: If consumed in very large quantities, wild lettuce can also cause intense dreams.
  • Enhanced colors: Sometimes, the herb may have some impact on your nerves, and in the process of easing them, it may cause your vision to alter a bit. Colors may seem more enhanced.
  • Loss of balance: Again, since the herb is also a mild sedative, one may experience loss of balance as a side effect.

Read Next:


Hunter, J., “Wild Lettuce: The Natural Pain Killer,” Primal Survivor website, last accessed January 31, 2018;

Brendza, W., “How To Identify and Process Wild Lettuce For Natural Pain Relief,” Skilled Survival website, last accessed January 31, 2018;

Brady, K., “Wild Lettuce May Be Nature’s Pain Reliever—But Is It Safe?” Rodale’s Organic Life website, July 27, 2017;

“Similar To Opium: The Best Natural Painkiller That Grows In Your Backyard,” Daily Health Post, January 12, 2018;

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.