Many people look to alternative methods to help alleviate the discomfort. One such method is the use of Lactuca Virosa, or Wild Lettuce. This leafy plant, which can grow up to seven feet tall, originated in Europe and has been used for centuries as a folk medicine remedy for headaches, among other conditions. When opium was not available many early practitioners used this lettuce in its place because the results in treating their patients were very similar. Because the milky substance in the plant contains lactucin and lactupicrin, its seeds, sap, and leaves produce analgesic relief similar to current over-the-counter medications. It can also produce a mild sedative reaction which calms the nerves and allows the sufferer to relax or sleep.
Wild lettuce can be used in its natural state and incorporated into salads or other leafy vegetables. Oils, balms and tinctures can be made as well depending on the use. Dried lettuce can be added to cooking meals. Use care when adding as the plant is very bitter and too much may affect the taste of the food. It can be difficult to find the fresh variety, but supplements can be found in many pharmacies or health food stores. When foraging for it, the best time to search is in the cooler months of late winter or early spring as the leaves are most tender at that time of the year.
Wild lettuce is often used as a remedy for some of the following health conditions and maladies:
Teas made with dried leaves are beneficial right before bedtime to help with headaches and aid in sleep.
Like the effects of morphine, without the addictive qualities, joint discomfort, arthritis, and muscle aches can be reduced with regular use.
• Menstrual Problems
Since menstrual pain can also be debilitating and affect many aspects of one’s life, this lettuce is useful in helping with cramping and pelvic inflammation.
• Skin Conditions
Like a lot of green vegetables this wild plant has vitamin C, calcium, sodium, beta carotene, and antioxidants which encourage healthy renewal to skin cells.
As with all natural remedies care should be taken to watch for side effects. Rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, skin inflammations, or profuse sweating should be reported to your primary care physician. This plant should never be used during pregnancy or breast feeding.