Wild Lettuce Benefits

Wild Lettuce Benefits

Wild Lettuce Benefits

Wild Lettuce Benefits

What made Wild lettuce popular are its sedative and analgesic properties, so much so that it is considered a drug for therapeutic use.

Wild lettuce is a herbaceous plant of the genus Lactuca, a close cousin of Lactuca sativa, the common lettuce we eat in the kitchen.

Wild lettuce is also known as opium lettuce, drug lettuce, or bitter lettuce.

It is native to central and southern Europe, it grows spontaneously on our uncultivated land, even at the edge of the roads.

It is not difficult to find and it is a biennial plant that is found almost everywhere.

When we talk about wild lettuce we refer to two different species:

They are similar in appearance, but they are not both edible. Lactuca virosa is much higher than serriola and its use is totally not recommended as it is toxic.

Wild lettuce, on the other hand, has analgesic properties among its benefits but has no contraindications.


Why is wild Lactuca considered a drug?

Wild Lettuce benefitsBecause many of its principles have a psychoactive action. Wild Lactuca was used in the nineteenth century by doctors when it was not possible to find opium.

The effects most similar to those of opium were highlighted in Lactuca virosa (poisonous lettuce).

Lactuca virosa was first studied by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in 1911.

The first psychoactive compounds isolated from the plant were lactucin and lactucopicrin, both of which have calming and sedative properties.

Lactucin is an adenosine receptor agonist while lactucopicrin has been shown to act as a selective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase.

Another psychoactive substance contained in wild lettuce is lactucone. These substances are also present, in lower concentrations, in the lettuce that you commonly use for your salads.

These substances are also contained in abundance in the Lactuca serriola, especially in the stem and in the milky parts.

Lactuca virosa is NOT edible.

Virose lettuce (or poisonous lettuce) is toxic. The term virosa, indeed, means poisonous.

The Lactuca Serriola is edible (Wild Lettuce). Its leaves have a bitter and pungent taste.

We can also consume the young shoots (they are also edible) from the plant which is more tender and has a less bitter taste.

As I mentioned before Wild Lettuce has many benefits. We are going to cover them below.

If you like this topic, I found a very interesting video about how to extract a very powerful painkiller from Wild Lettuce,

Click on the image below to watch it.

Where to find the Wild Lettuce

As stated, it is a spontaneous grass that grows in uncultivated fields and along roadsides.

Pay attention that it is a plant that also grows in soils saturated with nitrogen, therefore near farms but also in landfills.

Its vegetative period goes from May to September in the North and from April in the South. As soon as the temperatures increase, its development begins.

It blooms until mid-August.


How to recognize the Wild Lettuce

It is important to be able to distinguish lactuca serriola from lactuca virosa.

It’s very easy to confuse these two species due to their very similar appearance.

To recognize edible wild lettuce from that used primarily as a drug, you can help yourself with photos.

Difference between Lactuca Serriola and Lactuca Virosa

The serriola lettuce is similarly called wild lettuce, unlike the Lactuca virosa, the Lactuca serriola however has serrated leaves, while the margin of the leaves of the Lactuca virosa is smooth.

In addition, the Lactuca serriola is “lower”. Lactuca virosa reaches up to 200 cm in height.

The edible parts of this plant (serriola lettuce) are the young leaves that we can eat cooked or raw.

We can use Lactuca serriola as a drug because it has psychoactive compounds.


Properties and effects

The properties of wild lettuce are related to the psychotropic compounds it contains.

In particular, between wild lettuce benefits (common for Lactuca serriola and Lactuca virosa) some depend from the following effects:

  • Hypnotics;
  • Diuretics;
  • Narcotics;
  • Sedatives;
  • Antipyretics.

For a long time, our ancestors used the leaves and stem as a substitute for opium. Dried to take advantage of the latex that could be smoked or drunk (very bitter).

The effects of Lactuca virosa last between half an hour and a couple of hours. Due to its psychotropic effects, the plant, in the past, was used as a narcotic substance, as a sleep aid, and as an anesthetic to replace opium.

We can extract a very effective painkiller from the wild lettuce of the Lactuca virosa species.

The plant Lactuca virosa cannot be ingested due to the high content of coumarins (poisonous substances). Contains methylphenylalanine (one of the main constituents of aspartame).



Nature is always a source of wonderful discoveries.

Personally, I prefer to rely on natural solutions than pharmaceutical products, which, however safe and laboratory tested, can always give side effects.

The way our ancestors treated pain without the knowledge that science has given us always made me curious.

If you think so, you should definitively take a look at the following page. There you can watch a very interesting video about everything that nature gives us to make our journey easier.

Our grandparents or their grandparents somehow had to deal with headaches or other pains that prevented them from taking care of their daily tasks.

In past centuries, medicines were not as widespread and easily accessible as they are today.

It is a pity to waste the knowledge accumulated by mankind over the centuries.

Modern media and comforts are making us lazier.

The ease with which we can all buy medicines or treatments for our little pains has slowly made us forget what nature has made available to us.

Maybe our grandparents didn’t study at the best university, because in their day, a degree was something available only to the luckiest people.

Nonetheless, I believe that their wisdom, handed down from father to son, was often superior in efficiency compared to the methods learned in the classroom.

Like Wild Lettuce can give unbelievable benefits, there are also many other natural products that we can make by ourselves starting from common plants.

I found a very interesting video that explains how to produce a very effective painkiller Wild Lettuce.

I warmly recommend you watch it because it is really very interesting.

>>> The lost ways <<<

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my post about the top 5 natural fat burners.


Have a wonderful day,


4 thoughts on “Wild Lettuce Benefits

  1. Hello Andrea. Here in South Africa we have many rural doctors called a “sangoma.” They use plants like the wild lettuce to make medicines and pastes for people in need. I know nothing on their remedies in detail, but your article made me think about them. They don’t have any “Internet” platform that can teach them on plants. They are being thought by their parents and so on. It’s quite interesting to see what nature can provide if you really start looking for it. Who knows, maybe you will discover a plant that can kill the corona virus. Well done on your article by the way. Very informative stuff.

    1. Hi Gideon,

      Thanks for your comment, I always like sharing information and discovering about different cultures.

      In my opinion, these are the things that make us rich. Learning from each other is always a wise idea.

      Wow, it would be amazing to find a plant that can effectively fight Corona Virus.

      Have a great day,


  2. I’ve never thought that wild lettuce can be used as a painkiller, I’m curious about what are the other vegetables that can be used to prepare useful and healthy teas.

    1. Hey Max,
      Nature gave us many plants that we can use to heal, or for many other purposes.
      Nowadays Aloe Vera is famous for its properties, and actually like Aloe, there are definitively hundreds of other plants that we can use to live a better life.
      Kind regards,

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