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Wild Lettuce Opium
Wild Lettuce
 
Lactuca Virosa Leaf: Soothes and calms anxiety and nervous irritation.

$15.00 oz Out of stock

Botanical Name: Lactuca virosa (LINN.)
Plant Family: N.O. Compositae
Also Called: Lactucarium, Strong-scented Lettuce, Green Endive, Lettuce Opium, Laitue vireuse and Acrid Lettuce. The name lactuca comes from the Latin name for the milky juice, virosa, ('poisonous').

Identification
This is a biennial herb which grows to a maximum height of 6 feet, has a smooth and light green and sometimes purple-spotted erect stem which springs from a brown tap-root. A few prickles are found on the lower part and there are short horizontal branches above. The large (6 to 18 inch long) radical leaves are numerous, entire, and obovate (oblong.) Small scanty stem leaves are alternate and clasp the stem with two little lobes. Numerous heads are shortly-stalked and light yellow corolla is strap-shaped. The fruit is rough, oval and black , edged with a broad wing and lengthens above into a long white beak with silvery tufts of hair. The entire plant is rich in a bitter tasting milky juice with a narcotic odor which flows freely from any wound. When the juice dries it hardens and turns brown, then it is called lactucarium.

Composition
L. virosa has been found to contain lactucic acid, lactucopicrin, 50 to 60 per cent lactucerin (lactucone) and lactucin. When Lactucarium is treated with boiling water and filtered it is clear, when it cools it becomes cloudy and does not turn blue by iodine test solution. The usual components of latex are albumen, mannite, and caoutchouc. The fresh, acidic juice colors litmus paper red.

Environment
Wild Lettuce grows on banks and empty land, coming into flower July and August. It is cultivated in Austria, Britain, France, Germany and Scotland. Collectors cut the heads of the plants and scrape the juice into china receptacles several times per day until they are empty by slightly warming and tapping. Then it is cut into quarters and dried.

History
In the United States after importation from Germany via England it is said to be used as an adulterant for opium. It is usually found in irregular reddish-brown lumps the size of a large pea frequently moldy on the outside. In the United States the German and French lactucarium is considered inferior to the British product. All lettuces possess some of this narcotie juice, Lactuca virosa having the most, and the others in the following order: L. scariola, or Prickly Lettuce, L. altissima, L. Canadensis, or Wild Lettuce of America, and L. sativa, or Garden Lettuce. Cultivation has lessened the narcotic properties Garden Lettuce but it is still used for making skin lotion useful in treating sunburn and roughness. The Ancients held the lettuce in high esteem for its cooling and refreshing properties. The Emperor Augustus attributed his recovery from a dangerous illness to it, built an altar to it and erected a statue in its honor. Lactucarium is not easily powdered and is only slightly soluble in boiling water, though it softens and becomes plastic. Thridace or the inspissated juice of L. capitata, is now regarded as inert. It is said that in Egypt, an oil used in cooking is obtained from the seeds.

Medicinal Purposes
The herb resembling a weak opium without its tendency to upset the digestive system, is used to a small extent as a sedative and narcotic. When dissolved in wine it is said to be a good anodyne According to Dr. Collins, twenty-three out of twenty-four cases of dropsy were cured by taking doses of 18 grains to 3 drachms of extract in twenty-four hours. It is combined with more active drugs and used in Germany for this complaint. Also said to be a mild diaphoretic and diuretic, easing colic, inducing sleep and relieving cough. In France, water distilled from lettuce (eau de laitre) is used as a mild sedative in doses of 2 to 4 OZ., and the fresh leaves boiled in water are sometimes used as a cataplasm. Caution: even moderate doses may be poisonous to pets

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