Wild Lettuce

Lactuca virosaCompositae

Names: Lettuce Opium

Habitat: Indigenous to Central and Southern Europe and
Northern Asia, cultivated elsewhere.

Collection: The leaves should be gathered in June and July.

Part Used: Dried leaves.


  • Lactucin, a sesquiterpene lactone
  • Flavonoids; mainly based on quercitin
  • Coumarins; cichoriin and aesculin
  • N-methyl-b-phenethylamine

Actions: Nervine, anodyne, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic.

Indications: The latex of the Wild Lettuce was at one
time sold as `Lettuce Opium’, naming the use of this herb quite
well! It is a valuable remedy for use in insomnia, restlessness
and excitability (especially in children) and other manifestations
of an over active nervous system. As an anti-spasmodic it can be
used as part of a holistic treatment of whooping cough and
dry irritated coughs in general. It will relieve colic pains in the intestines and uterus and so may be used in dysmennhorea.
It will ease muscular pains related to rheumatism. It has been used as an aphrodisiac.

Combinations: For irritable coughs it may be used with
Wild Cherry Bark. For insomnia it combines with Valerian and Pasque Flower.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling
water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the leaves and let infuse for l0-l5
minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Go to Herbal Materia Medica Homepage

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021