Wild Lettuce Herb


Also known as

Latuca virosa, and Bitter Lettuce.


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 Preparation 

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


Wild lettuce teas and tinctures are used to induce sleep. Historically, they were especially prescribed for nervous excitability and irritated cough in children. Wild lettuce is included in some herbal mixtures used to threat arthritic pain.

Precautions: None. 


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. 

Unless otherwise stated, this information courtesy of MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS, with full, written permission for reuse. For further traditional information concerning WILD LETTUCE, please visit this excellent resource fromBotanical.com.  Used with full, written permission.