Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)
A tall, biennial plant with elongated clusters of small, pale yellow flower heads, similar to dandelion. The leaves are up to 1 foot long, variable, from nearly toothless and lance-shaped to deeply lobed; stalkless. Exudes a milky juice when crushed. The fruit is dry, flat, 1-seeded, with bristly “parachute” that aids in seed dispersal. Height: Usually over 30
Note: The leaves lack the spines of the similar Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca scariola). Young leaves can be used in salads or as cooked greens, but have a slightly bitter taste. The leaves are rich in iron, vitamins A, B1, B2, and Vitamin C.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Flowers: July – September
Parts Used: Leaves and sap
Habitat: Clearings, thickets, and edges of woods. Most of the area.
Constituents: Bitter latex (containing lactucone, lactupicrin), a trace of an alkaloid, triterpenes.
Properties: Anodyne, antispasmodic, narcotic, and sedative.
Main Uses: Insomnia, anxiety, irritating coughs.
This plant contains a potent milky latex, sometimes called “lettuce opium”. It looks and somewhat acts like that extracted from the opium poppy. Lettuce latex has been used in cough mixtures to replace opium. The whole plant is sedative, and helps to induce sleep and calm, restlessness and anxiety. It also has a sedative effect on the respiratory system too, and it is used for treating whooping cough and nervous and dry irritating coughs. It can also help to reduce muscle and joint pain but it is not a cure for the conditions that cause this.
Preparation And Dosages:
Tea: 0.5 to 3 grams taken orally three times a day.
Dried Latex Extract: 0.3 to 1 gram taken orally twice daily.
Fluid Extract: (1:1 in 25% alcohol), 1/2 to 1 oz taken orally three times a day.
Tincture: 1 to 2 tablespoons taken orally three times a day.
Warning WARNING! Large quantities taken orally may cause internal
Contact Dermatitis The plant may cause contact dermatitis.