Scientific Name(S): Lettuce opium is a product obtained from the milky white sap of Lactuca virosa L. (wild lettuce) and L.sativa var capitata L. (garden lettuce), but related species are sometimes used. Family: Compositae
Common Name(S): Wild lettuce, German lactucarium, garden lettuce, lettuce opium, strong-scented lettuce, green endive, acrid lettuce, greater prickly lettuce.
Botany: Widely cultivated, lettuce flowers from July to September. This biennial herb grows to 6 feet. The large leaves can attain lengths of 18 inches. The stalks are rich in a milky-white sap that flows freely when the stems are broken.
History: Lettuce opium has been used in folk medicine for indications ranging from aiding circulation to treating swollen genitals. In Europe it is used as a substitute for opium in cough mixtures. In homeopathy, a tincture has been used for laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, cough and infections of the urinary tract. The juice of the stem covering yields a medicinal extract known as thridace, the use and effectiveness of which is widely disputed.
Chinese medicine has made wide use of lettuce preparations. The dried juice has been recommended as a topical wound antiseptic and the seeds have been used as a galactogogue (to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers). It has been claimed the flowers and seeds are effective in reducing fevers. More recently, lettuce opium products have been marketed as legal highs, or narcotic substitutes intended to be smoked alone or in combination with marijuana to enhance potency and flavor. Its analgesic and sedative attributes seem more based on fiction than fact.
Uses of Lettuce Opium
Lettuce opium has been used as topical antiseptic, as folk medicine to ameliorate a variety of conditions, and as a narcotic substitute or enhancer.
Side Effects of Lettuce Opium
Ingestion may be associated with allergic reactions.
Dosage: Talk with your caregiver about how much Wild Lettuce you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Wild Lettuce. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.
Toxicology: No reports of significant adverse effects due to smoking lettuce opium have been reported. However, a possible association exists between lettuce ingestion and a localized oral allergic reaction.
Summary: Lettuce opium is an antiquated folk remedy which finds little value in modern medicine. The "hallucinogenic" effect of lettuce opium and other lettuce derivatives has not been substantiated. The effects appear to be more psychological rather than physiological and are proportional to the user's expectations.
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