Lactuca virosa

Lactuca virosa                                        Common name: Wild Lettuce

Family: Asteraceae

Part used: Dried leaves, latex (milky juice)

Constituents: Acids (mallic, citric, oxalic), alkaloids, sesquiterpene lactones (lactucin, lactulone, lactupicrin, lactucic acid), flavonoids (quercitin, apigenin, luteolin), coumarins

Actions: Nervous system relaxant, sedative, analgesic, hypnotic, narcotic, antispasmodic

Medical uses: The latex of this plant was at one time sold as “Lettuce Opium” and has been used as an opium substitute. A valuable remedy for use in insomnia, restlessness and over-excitability (especially in children) and other manifestations of an overactive nervous system. As an antispasmodic it can be used as holistic treatment for whooping cough and dry irritated coughs in general. It will relieve colic pain in the gut and uterus and so can be used in painful periods. It will ease muscular  and joint pains related to rheumatism, and has been used as an aphrodisiac.


  • Alkaloids & sesquiterpene lactones are possibly responsible for sedative effects.

Pharmacy:  Dried leaves: 0.5-3g TID. Infusion: 1 tsp/cup, infuse 15 min, TID. Tincture: (1:1, 25%), 0.5-3ml TID.

Contraindications: Allergic reaction to Asteraceae family

Toxicity: In high doses can produce stupor, depress breathing and overdose can cause coma/death.

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