If I were to tell you that Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa) has 8 times the Vitamin C as does domestic Iceberg Lettuce, you might be impressed. You should be anyways. Maybe you would be interested to know that rubber can be made from the white latex in the stem and roots?
The fact is, the docile, normal, average, bland lettuce from the store, that graces our salad dish and adds a bit of crunch to a sandwich, came from the vitamin packed nutritional power puncher.
I find it interesting that Wild Lettuce was bred to be less bitter and more palatable. They succeeded, but the results was that it is also less healthy and less medicinal…a lot less. But, here is the interesting thing, while the bitter was bred out of Wild Lettuce, to make it more palatable, bitter greens are a very popular addition to a salad. Kind of an oxymoron to me.
Wild Lettuce drawing by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen
Thankfully, lettuce in Nature is still the good ole power packed vegetable that our ancestors took advantage of. I get the attraction to a mild leaf or head lettuce. I enjoy it myself, but take a minute the next time you are out doors and run across some Wild Lettuce to pick some of the tender leaves. Add a leaf or two to your sandwich or salad. It’s even good in a soup. The nutritional benefit will be worth it.
Wild Lettuce is also a great sedative. I can get into the details, but sometimes its easier for people to just remember the basics. It is known as Opium Lettuce for a reason. It takes some processing to get the more powerful effects, but I don’t really advocate doing that and therefore won’t supply that information here. If you are interested in the process for survival reasons, use the contact page and request it. I’ll send it to you directly.
As a survival tool, the tar resulting from the process can be smoked to put an injured or severely upset person to sleep. But I think it would be better for a young person to leave alone unless medically needed.
That being said, a tea from the leaves can be an effective sedative. I would recommend not drinking the tea if you are about to drive or operate machinery. The effects are different on everyone. Some people it is just relaxing, others can become quite sleepy.
Wild Lettuce can be effective against urinary tract issues, coughs, asthma, restlessness, menstrual pain, and muscle and joint pain. The latex can be applied topically to kill germs.
Good organic domesticated vegetables aren’t all bad. But, the original is almost always better. It takes a little effort, but the benefits are worth it. Consider this though. If things get bad for you and life becomes an exercise in survival, having wild edible knowledge in your bag of tricks will make life much easier. Knowing about Wild Lettuce would be a pretty good start.