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Wild Lettuce

  • Lactuca virosa
  • Origin: Albania
Wild Lettuce


Common Name

Standardized: wild lettuce

Botanical Name

Lactuca virosa L.
Plant Family: Asteraceae



Wild lettuce is not a vegetable but actually a woodland member of the sunflower family. The dried latex or sap of wild lettuce was at one time used as a substitute for opium. Although wild lettuce does not have the calming power of opium, neither does it cause stomach upset, constipation, or diarrhea as opium products do.


The sedative effect of wild lettuce is attributed to lactucopicrin and lactucin. The leaf also contains apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, coumarins, mannitol. The fresh leaf but not the dried herb contains hyosycamine, a chemical also found in henbane.

Parts Used

Aerial parts (leaf and stem)

Typical Preparations

Capsules, teas, tinctures. Fresh green leaves are sometimes added to salads.


Specific: No known precautions.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.