LACTUCA VIROSA: The Best Natural Painkiller

Family: Astareaceae

Genus: Lactuca

Species: Lactuca Virosa

Common Name: Wild lettuce, Opium lettuce, Bitter lettuce, Prickly lettuce

Lactuca virosa is biennial, similar Lactuca serriola but taller – it can grow up to 200 cm (80 inches or 6 feet) and has a pale green central stalk that is sometimes spotted with purple. The numerous, large, radical leaves are obovate-oblong, stem leaves are small and alternate,  heads are numerous and shortly-stalked while flowers are pale-yellow. The whole plant is rich in a milky latex that flows freely from any laceration. This latex has a bitter taste and a narcotic smell. When dry, it hardens, turns brown, and is known as lactucarium.

Wild lettuce grows best in loosely packed, well-drained soil and blooms during July and August. It can be found growing freely in various regions of the world including Australia, America, Southern and central Europe and India. It is propagated by  scattering the seeds over the ground in spring. When bruised, the plant exhibits a smell very similar to that of opium poppy.

MEDICINAL USE:  The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. This sap can be made into an alcohol tincture or the fresh leaves and flowering tops can be tinctured rather thendried and made taken as teas,smoked or less often in capsule form. The sap contains “lactucarium“, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

RECREATIONAL USE: The effects of smoking Lactuca Virosa include languid dream states and aphrodisiac highs. The sedative effects are said to be due to the sesquiterpene lactones found in the latex. Wild lettuce is also very useful in entering meditative trance states, and is a powerful tool for dream enhancement if smoked just before going to sleep. The obtained juice can be concentrated to a resin-like mass and then smoked. The collected latex come from the upper part of the plant, repeatedly cutted off and harvested.


This sap is left to dry up and this way the so called “lactucarium” is obtained. Lactucarium can be taken orally or smoked.



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