What is Wild Lettuce?
Wild lettuce is one of the several varieties of the certain species of Lactuca genus which relates to the traditional lettuce. the leaves of the wild lettuce can be consumed as a vegetable salad and possess mild analgesic properties. In the early days when the present day’s medication facility was not available on large scale, it was common for the physicians to use wild lettuce leaves as an effective painkiller and as an alternative to opium. In 1919, it was studied extensively by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and they found that the pain-reducing properties of the wild lettuce are mainly because of the two active chemical compounds lactucopicrin and lactucin in it.
Wild lettuce is also known by some other names such as opium lettuce, great lettuce, butter lettuce, and tall lettuce. It is a biennial plant which means it takes two years to complete its biological cycle. It is native to Europe and Asia and were later introduced to America and other regions of the world. These days, wild lettuce is widely found in the coastal regions of Great Britain and is also widespread across much of central and southern Asia. It is also found in some regions of the south-east and east of England. It is also available in wild regions of Australia and some regions like those of Punjab in India, and Pakistan.
How To Identify Wild Lettuce and How Wild Lettuce Is Different From Dandelions
Identifying wild lettuce is not an easy task, but it isn’t rocket science either. Wild lettuce resembles dandelion and thistle, but they are all different. If you keep below-mentioned points in your mind then you can easily identify the wild lettuce among other lettuces, and will not even confuse it with the dandelions.
- Wild lettuce is a biennial plant which means it takes two years to complete its biological life cycle. On the other hand, dandelions are perennial which means their complete biological cycle takes more than two years. Leaves of the dandelions grow on the annual basis but its roots grew on the biennial basis.
- It can grow up to 80 inches in length, whereas dandelions mostly grow up to a height of 8 to 12 inches.
- Leaves of the wild lettuce are broad, oval-shaped and jagged-edged. Dandelion leaves, on the other hand, are the long, narrow and irregularly lobed and lanced shape.
- The stem of the wild lettuce is smooth and leafy and is light green and reddish green in color, and sometimes also possess purple streaks to it. On the other hand, the stem of the dandelions is primarily hollow and leafless.
- Wild lettuce flowers in North America between July and September. It sprouts round yellow colored flowers that look like dandelions ( and hence the confusion), whereas dandelions flowers from May to October, and more profusely during May and June.
- Wild lettuce flowers are significantly smaller than those of dandelion flowers ( about half of their size).
- Another method of identifying wild opium lettuce or wild lettuce is its sticky and milky sap.
So, by taking the above points into consideration, one can easily identify wild lettuce and differentiate it from the dandelions and other lettuces.
How to Use Wild Lettuce
There are many effective methods to use wild lettuce, but the most common methods are as follows:-
(1)Wild Lettuce Tea
Tea prepared from wild lettuce leaves is one of the best methods to enjoy the various benefits provided by the wild lettuce. It has a nice taste and provides the benefits in a gentle manner. Along with this, wild lettuce concentrate can also be combined with other herbs such as chamomile or green tea to make the taste better.
(2) Wild Lettuce Tinctures
Another method of using wild lettuce is to make a tincture from the wild lettuce extract and apply the same direction on the affected skin area. It can also be administered on the gums and tongue. Wild lettuce is easily available on various online stores and is handy as they can easily fit in pockets and pouches.
(3) Smoking Wild Lettuce
This method involves burning the dried wild lettuce leaves and inhaling the smoke. It is the fastest method of enjoying the benefits provided by the wild lettuce. However, it should be noted that wild lettuce smoke is not that good for our lungs and if you are using wild lettuce for the treatment of a cough and asthma then wild lettuce tea or tincture is a better choice.
Wild Lettuce Nutrition Facts
The amazing benefits and medicinal properties provided by the wild lettuce is mainly because of the various active ingredients like lactucarium, lactucopicrin, caoutchouc, mannitol, lactucin, fiber and caoutchouc, mannitol, lactucin, fiber, coumarins in it. It is also rich in other essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium in it.
Health Benefits of Wild Lettuce
(1) Improves Respiratory Health
Wild lettuce is very beneficial for our lungs and improves the overall health of the respiratory system. This benefit of wild lettuce is mainly because of its antitussive properties that provide relief from the irritation in the lungs and the bronchial tubes and thus helps in treating whooping cough and asthma.
Wild lettuce leaves can also be eaten as a salad to improve the respiratory health of the system and for combating against the various symptoms of bronchial asthma and allergy. If you suffer from the respiratory problem then you can use wild lettuce for the relief but it recommended to first consult with your doctor about the same.
In addition to this, wild lettuce is also a good source of vitamin C which is an antioxidant that protects our respiratory system from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals in the body. It also contains vitamin A that reduces inflammation of the lungs and helps with bronchial asthma.
(2) Relieves Migraine And Headache
A migraine is a state of constant( almost) and recurring headache that usually affects the half region of the head, and is very troublesome. A headache itself is very painful and when it reoccurs again and again then it becomes even a bigger problem. As per Mentalfloss, it is the third most common disease in the world and affects women more than men.
Wild lettuce is found to be very effective for providing relief from a headache and migraine. This advantage of wild lettuce is mainly because of its sedative properties.
To get relief from a migraine, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed wild lettuce tea before bedtime and enjoy a peaceful sleep free of a headache.
In addition to this, wild lettuce also contains magnesium and vitamin B complex that also plays a significant role in treating migraine.
(3) Wild Lettuce For Pain Relief
Wild lettuce is a wonderful painkiller and its early use was also because of its pain relieving properties. The pain-relieving benefits of wild lettuce are mainly because of the active chemical compounds like lactucopicrin and lactucin in it. Its effect is similar to that of morphine and it soothes our nervous system in a short time. Wild lettuce is very beneficial for joint pain, colic, arthritis, muscle pain, and uterine cramps.
In addition to this, wild lettuce is also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that also possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It not only protects our cells and tissues from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, but also provides relief from pain and inflammation, and is effective against arthritis, gouts, and other inflammatory problems.
(4) Improves Physiological Health
Stress and anxiety are becoming an integral part of our life, and our the biggest obstacles when it comes to enjoying a healthy life. It damages our psychological health and also increases the risk of other problems such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, headache, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and neurodegenerative disorders.
For a healthy living, it is important to live a life free of stress and anxiety, and wild lettuce can help in doing the same.
Wild lettuce is very beneficial for providing relief from stress and anxiety and improves our physiological health. This advantage of wild lettuce is because of its mild sedative properties. It calms our nervous system and provides relief from stress and anxiety.
Additionally, other nutrients such as vitamin B, vitamin C, and magnesium also play a significant role in providing relief from stress and anxiety.
(5) Provides Relief From Urinary Tract Infections
Another advantage of wild lettuce is its ability to provide relief from the urinary tract which is an infection that may arise anywhere in the urinary tract ( which includes our kidneys, bladder, ureters, bladder, and urethra). This benefit of wild lettuce is mainly because of its diuretic properties.
The best way to enjoy this benefit is to add some wild lettuce leaves to your diet and enjoy them as a salad.
(6) Provides Relief From Atherosclerosis
Wild lettuce is very beneficial for providing relief from atherosclerosis which also gives rise to various cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, heart stroke and blockage of arteries.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which our arteries get hardened and narrowed due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in them. When our arteries get narrowed then our heart has to put extra pressure to maintain effective blood circulation and this increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack.
This benefit of wild lettuce is mainly because of the presence of essential compounds such as vitamin C and dietary fibers in it.
The dietary fibers in the wild lettuce aids reduce the level of bad cholesterol and prevent it from getting clogged up in our arteries, and thus reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
Vitamin C present in it fights with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our circulatory system and thus improves the health and flexibility of the arteries.
To enjoy this benefit, all you have to do is drink a cup of tea made from freshly brewed wild lettuce leaves.
(7) Wild Lettuce Tea for Insomnia
Getting a good night sleep is becoming more like a luxury these days. Various reasons such as stressful life, poor lifestyle, an unhealthy diet can cause havoc to our sleep pattern and may give rise to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Insomnia is a condition in which one has trouble in enjoying a quality sleep and lack of sleep may give rise to problems such as weakening the immune system, poor respiratory health, digestive problems, poor cognitive functions, etc.
Drinking wild lettuce tea is very beneficial for treating insomnia and helps us to Enjoy a quality sleep.
This benefit of wild lettuce is mainly because of its mild sedative properties that relax our nerves.
(8) Wild Lettuce For Maintaining Skin Health
Wild lettuce is very beneficial for our skin and aids in keeping various signs of premature aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots and skin blemishes, etc at bay.
This beauty benefit of wild lettuce is mainly because of the presence of vitamin C in it.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that fights with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our skin cells and thus keep various signs of premature aging at bay.
It improves the overall health of the skin and also encourages the production of collagen in our system.
Collagen is an important amino acid found in abundance in our system, mainly in the connective tissues such as joints, tendons, bones, tendons, and cartilages, etc.
It also maintains our skin elasticity.
Wild lettuce is also good for reducing the risk of various skin infection.
(9) Relieves Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Enjoying tea made from the wild lettuce tea is an effective way of reducing various symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Some common symptoms of PMS are uneasiness, pain, and anxiety.
(10) Wild Lettuce Tea For Weight Loss
Wild lettuce contains no calories and is a storehouse of necessary nutrients. This makes it an ideal leafy vegetable when it comes to shedding extra pounds. You can incorporate it into various salads and smoothie recipes. The leafy vegetable will provide your daily dose of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium along with plenty of vitamin C without any fat content.
Obese individuals can consume wild lettuce on a daily basis to facilitate their weight loss journey. Moreover, these minerals and antioxidant will function to boost your metabolic rate which is essential to maintain your overall health.
Wild lettuce is very beneficial for the people who are on a weight loss journey and would like to get rid of some extra pounds.
The best way to enjoy wild lettuce is to add it our salad bowl and smoothie recipe.
Wild lettuce doesn’t have any calories which means one can enjoy them without worrying about weight gain.
In addition to this, other nutrients like vitamins and minerals, etc present in the wild lettuce improve our metabolic rate and increase the efficiency of our body to burn more calories.
Side Effects of Wild Lettuce
(1) Wild Lettuce And Skin Irritation
The milky latex obtained from the wild lettuce provides many benefits. However, applying it directly on the skin may develop skin irritation, skin rashes, etc. Some individuals are sensitive to milk latex of wild lettuce and they should keep extra precaution.
(2) Wild Lettuce During Pregnancy And Nursing Period
Pregnancy is a crucial stage in every woman’s life. At this stage, it is very important for her to make sure that she is having a balanced diet full of essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. This is because what she consumes as food and drink not only determines her health but also the health and wellness of the fetus developing in her womb.
Although wild lettuce is rich in many active ingredients and contains some essential nutrients, it is advisable to avoid them during the pregnancy and nursing stage. This is because studies done on the wild lettuce application are very limited and in their initial phases. In pregnancy, there is no place for the ifs and buts, and gambling on something can prove fatal both to the pregnant mother and the fetus that develops in her womb. It is advisable to be on the safe side and avoid wild lettuce completely during the pregnancy period.
Nursing mothers should also take the same precaution and avoid wild lettuce during the lactation period. This is because the impact of wild lettuce on the breastfeeding stage is not known and they might be strong for the infants that are totally dependent on their mother for the food and nourishment.
(3) Wild Lettuce And Allergic Reactions
Wild lettuce contains a lot of active ingredients and essential compounds that provide a number of benefits to us. They are good for our health, and also aids in keeping our skin healthy. Although wild lettuce is good for us, it is not suitable for all of us and some individuals might face allergic reactions while using them. If you experience allergic reactions from wild lettuce then you should them completely. It has been found that individuals who are allergic to Compositae family, which includes ragweed, daisies, chrysanthemums, and marigold, etc. then you are more likely to be allergic to wild lettuce too.
Some common allergic reactions that may arise due to sweating, fast heartbeat, pupil dilation, ringing in the far, sedation, breathing difficulty and in worst cases, it may even lead to death.
(4) Wild Lettuce During Surgery
If you have a scheduled surgery, then it is recommended to stop using wild lettuce two weeks prior to the surgery.
This is because wild lettuce is sedative in nature and they may in interfere with the anesthesia and other sedative medicines used after pregnancy. Using natural sedative like wild lettuce along with other sedatives may prove fatal to our system and should be avoided.
(5) Wild Lettuce May Worsen Prostatic Hyperplasia
Wild lettuce is not suitable for the individuals with prostatic hyperplasia and glaucoma and is found to worsen the conditions, and should be avoided by the individuals who suffer from this condition.
Prostatic hyperplasia is a condition that leads to enlargement of the prostate gland and usually affects male above 40. In this condition, person face difficulties such as frequent urination, trouble starting to urinate, weak stream, inability to urinate, and loss of bladder control.
On the other hand, glaucoma is a condition that increases the pressure within the eyeballs and may lead to a gradual loss of vision.
(6) Avoid Wild Lettuce With Antidepressants
Wild lettuce has a calming effect on our nerves and is very beneficial for providing relief from stress and anxiety.
However, if you are already taking medication for the anxiety related issues and taking CNS antidepressant, then you should avoid wild lettuce as they may interfere with these medications.
(7) Wild Lettuce And Blood Pressure
The potassium present in the wild lettuce is a natural vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation and helps in regulating blood pressure level.
However, studies on the wild lettuce and its effect on the blood pressure level are very limited, and for a safe side, it is advisable to first consult with your doctor about the same.
Also, if you are on medication for blood pressure regulation then also you should consult with your doctor about the use of wild lettuce.
(8) Wild Lettuce And Diabetes
There are not many studies and concurrent evidence that determines how wild lettuce affects our blood sugar level, and for a safe side, it is advisable to consult with your doctor and follow his advice.
If you are already on diabetes medication then it becomes even more important.
(9) Wild Lettuce Toxicity
Consuming wild lettuce in the wrong way or over consuming wild lettuce may lead to wild lettuce toxicity, and is characterized by the symptoms such as decreased bowel sounds, dizziness, anxiety, sympathetic overactivity, mydriasis and over retention.
In the worst scenario, the person also needs to get hospitalized for the treatment.
The main reason behind wild lettuce is the use of fresh wild lettuce that arc out of their harvesting time and consuming them above the safe limits.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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