Known as the “poor man’s opium”, wild lettuce is an excellent and natural painkiller. Lactuca Virosa can be used as an alternative to traditional and often addictive prescription painkillers. The power of this vegetable – a cousin to the lettuce we buy at the grocery store – is found in the white substance produced in its leaves and stem. The Latin prefix “lac” means milk and is meant to describe the plant’s bitter white sap.
The pain-relieving properties of wild lettuce were already being utilized as early as the 19th century, however, it was only during the 1970s that it gained popularity.
There are two popular ways of enjoying wild lettuce. The first is to cook the plant in a sugar-water mix until it reaches a syrup-like consistency; the solution is then drunk as medicine. This has been found to be quite effective, although the bitter taste remains.
Looks can be deceiving
Wild lettuce is often overlooked because of its weed-like appearance. Still, several studies point to the numerous health benefits of the plant. Studies have also found that people with asthma respond better to the wild lettuce treatment than to opiates. This is because patients tend to undergo an opiate withdrawal which can be more challenging than their actual condition.
The need for pain relief
Pain is a major public health problem. In America, between $560 billion and $635 billion is spent on pain treatment annually; this translates to each American spending around $2,000 just for pain relief. The National Academy’s Institute of Medicine notes that 100 million Americans currently suffer from chronic pain.
There are two caveats to note: Since wild lettuce manipulates the function of the central nervous system, it should not be taken for at least two weeks prior to any major surgery.