Prickly lettuce is unlike farmed lettuce which is tender and milky, just as it is taken in salads; however, it lacks practically any medicinal properties. Instead, when it is green, wholly grown, and mature (wild lettuce is, even better), it is a valuable remedy used in ancient times.
Healing Properties and Uses
The leaves of prickly lettuce contain chlorophyll, mineral salts, vitamins, and a bitter substance. However, the active components that act on the nervous system are found in the milky latex, which springs from the plant’s stems when cut. From this latex, and employing a process called solidification, lactucarium is obtained.
Prickly lettuce leaves, and especially latex, have the following properties:
- Sedative, similar to opium, though unlike this, lettuce does not have any toxic effect, so it may be used even with children. In whom it calms excessive activity and eases sleep.
- Anaphrodisiac. It helps control sexual excitation. Dioscorides said that “it stops wet dreams and represses the disorderly appetite for fornication.”
- Antitussive. Lettuce is especially recommended for irritant coughs and whooping cough.
Prickly Lettuce Scientific Facts
- Other names: Acrid lettuce, poison lettuce, green lettuce, wild lettuce.
- French: Laitue sauvage, laitue vireuse.
- Spanish: Lechuga silvestre, lactucario.
- Environment: Grows widespread on the dry fields and rocky slopes of Central and South Europe.
- Description: Plant of the Compositae family, growing from 0.4 to 1.5 m high. Its stem is vertical and solid, green or violet-colored, from which big, tooth-edged leaves grow.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Leaves and latex.
How to use Prickly Lettuce
- Decoction, during ten minutes, with one hundred grams of lettuce per liter of water. Drink three cups, sweetened with honey, every day, and another cup before going to bed. Use wild lettuce, or well grown and blooming, when farmed lettuce.
- Lactucarium. Usually from 0.1 to 1 g in a daily intake.
- Fresh juice. Obtained utilizing a blender. Drink half a cup two or three times a day, especially before going to bed. It may be mixed lemon juice.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 160. Print.