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Wild Lettuce

What other names is Wild Lettuce known by?

Acrid Lettuce, Bitter Lettuce, German Lactucarium, Green Endive, Lactuca virosa, Lactucarium, Laitue Amère, Laitue à Opium, Laitue Sauvage, Laitue Scariole, Laitue Serriole, Laitue Vireuse, Lechuga Silvestre, Lettuce Opium, Poison Lettuce, Strong-Scented Lettuce.

What is Wild Lettuce?

Wild lettuce is a plant. The leaves, sap (latex), and seed are used to make medicine.

Wild lettuce is used for whooping cough, asthma, urinary tract problems, cough, trouble sleeping (insomnia), restlessness, excitability in children, painful menstrual periods, excessive sex drive in women (nymphomania), muscular or joint pains, poor circulation, swollen genitals in men (priapism), and as an opium substitute in cough preparations.

The seed oil is used for "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis) and as a substitute for wheat germ oil.

Some people apply wild lettuce latex directly to the skin to kill germs.

Some people inhale wild lettuce for a recreational "high" or hallucinogenic effect.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Whooping cough.
  • Asthma.
  • Urinary tract problems.
  • Cough.
  • "Hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Restlessness.
  • Painful menstrual periods.
  • Sexual disorders.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Killing germs, when the latex is applied to the skin.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of wild lettuce for these uses.

How does Wild Lettuce work?

Wild lettuce has calming, relaxing, and pain relieving effects.

Are there safety concerns?

Wild lettuce seems safe for most people in small amounts. Large amounts, however, can slow breathing and might cause death.

Applying wild lettuce directly to the skin can cause irritation. Large amounts can cause sweating, fast heartbeat, pupil dilation, dizziness, ringing in the ears, vision changes, sedation, breathing difficulty, and death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of wild lettuce during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH): Don't use wild lettuce if you have this condition. It contains a chemical that can harm people who have trouble urinating.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Wild lettuce may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking wild lettuce.

Narrow-angle glaucoma: Don't use wild lettuce if you have this eye condition. It contains a chemical that might make glaucoma worse.

Surgery: Wild lettuce can affect the central nervous system. There is a concern that it might cause too much sleepiness if it is taken along with anesthesia and other nerve-numbing medications used during and after surgery. Stop using wild lettuce at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Wild lettuce might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking wild lettuce along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Dosing considerations for Wild Lettuce.

The appropriate dose of wild lettuce depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for wild lettuce. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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