Health benefits of Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa)

The benefits of wild lettuce leaves, a natural painkiller found in your backyard.

1. Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat illnesses and injuries, but nowadays many people rely on artificial drugs. Wild lettuce also known as lectuca virosa is a common household weed. This was used by the native Americans 2000 years ago as a natural painkiller and food source.

2. The leaves and stems contain a white sap which can be used as herbal medicine. It works to calm the central nervous system. This has been compared to morphine for its ability to reduce pain in the body, without any side effects.

3. This herb can be found throughout England, Europe and North America, and grows effortlessly without any special requirements.

4. The Native Americans used this to treat muscular pain, menstrual cramps, headaches and many other aches and pains.

5. It works as a gentle sedative, helping the body to relax at night and fight insomnia. It has also been used to treat restless leg syndrome as it relaxes the muscles.

6. The leaves can be eaten directly from the plant, but have a slightly bitter taste. Many people add them to soups or stir-fries as a source of nutrition.

7. The best way to use these is to dry out the leaves and grind them into a fine powder. A teaspoon can be added to a cup of water to make a pain-killing herbal tea which can drink 3 times per day.

8. In traditional Chinese medicine, the leaves and stems are soaked in warm but not boiling water for 8 hours. The juice is then sieved and applied directly on cuts and wounds. This eases pain and promotes fast healing, due to its antiseptic properties.

9. This herb should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. It should also be avoided when suffering from an enlarged prostate, narrow-angle glaucoma, allergies to ragweed and related plants or are going into surgery.

10. Wild lettuce has a different look throughout the seasons. It can grow up to seven feet tall with a thick stem. The leaves are attached in an alternating pattern and can be up to 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. The leaves get smaller as they move up the plant, and have prickles on the undersides. It grows small yellow flowers at the height of the season which looks similar to a small dandelion.