Lactuca virosa – Wild lettuce




The wild lettuce, a biennial plant, is a relative of the common lettuce.

Use: The juice of the plant can be obtained by electric extraction of the juice and drunk. Alternatively, the obtained juice can be concentrated to a resin-like mass and then smoked. When the wild lettuce was still more often used medicinally, the upper part of the plant was repeatedly cut off and the outpouring latex was collected. This was left to dry up and this way the so called “lactucarium” was obtained. Lactucarium was taken orally; but it can also be smoked. Alternatively the whole plant can be dried and smoked – but since the substance concentration is not too high, this method is not very advisable. The largest single dose of lactucarium amounted to 0.3 grams, the maximum daily dose was 1 gram.

Active constituents: Lactucin, lactucerol.

Use: Lactucarium was used for a long time as a medicament to produce a mild opium-like effect. It acts relaxing on the central nervous system, slightly euphoriant, painkilling, soporific and induces dreams. The effect does not take place reliably. Whether this depends on the user or on the local or climatic conditions of the plants, has not been clarified. The dried latex seems to lose its effect after some storage time. During the seventies, lactucarium was offered in the USA under the names „Lettuce opium“, „Lettucene“, or „L’Opium“ in all underground magazines. There are no known cases of addiction or poisoning. However, subsequently there was often fake lactucarium sold, that was produced from common lettuce. The dried latex of common lettuce however does not show any effects, so that soon the rumor was out, that lactucarium is generally without effect.

Side effects: In cases of overdose profuse sweating, increased heart beat and headache.

Suppliers: Seeds in seeds shops, dried herb in ethnobotanical stores.


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