Namely, it has been used as an opium replacement since the 19th century, when it was known as “poor man’s opium.”
Even nowadays, the distilled water from this plant is used as a mild sedative in France. Also, the Hopi Indians smoked its sap to induce a mild euphoric dream state.
The plant has a resinous milky sap, which contains pain-relieving opiates, known as lactucarium. These opiates are collected and dried, and their main compounds include lactupicrin, lactucin and lactucopicrin.
All of these have potent analgesic properties and lead to the same of even more intense effects the ones of ibuprofen in mice. Studies have shown that lactucin and lactucopicrin have sedative activity in measurements of spontaneous movements of the mice.
Iranian researchers have found that opium lettuce was a popular painkiller and sedative before the Victorian period.
In the paper of the Institute for the History of Science, published under the title Lettuce, Lactuca sp. as a Medicinal Plant in Polish Publications of the 19th Century, it is written that:
“The action of the substance was weaker than that of opium but free of the side-effects, and medical practice showed that in some cases lactucarium produced better curative effects than opium”.
The wild lettuce is also beneficial in the case of a cough, and it also soothes the symptoms of a whooping cough (pertussis).
Here are some other health benefits of this plant:
Asthma – This was its initial use. It effectively mitigates the asthma symptoms.
Anxiety –Its sedative properties are extremely helpful in the case of anxiety.
Migraine / Headaches – It reduces the frequency and severity of migraine headaches
Pain and Tension – Its opiate properties soothe pain, reduce tension, and relax the body and mind.
Sleep and Insomnia – It relaxes the body, helps one to fall asleep, and treats insomnia.
This plant has not only been used as a remedy, as people have also used its opiate-like effects to achieve a slight euphoria. Yet, it does not contain real opiates, so it is legal for use and does not changes the drug test results.
Yet, if used in large doses, it can lead to dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety.
This is how to use it:
- Cut the plant to get the thick milky sap.
- Prepare a tincture by adding the sap in some alcohol. You can also add flowering tops and fresh leaves instead of the sap.
- prepare tea by drying it. You can infuse about 1.5 grams of opium lettuce sap. The tea has a sweet flavor.
- You can smoke 0.25 grams of it in a pipe, and higher doses might lead to adverse effects.