Blue Lettuce (Lactuca pulchella)

Perennial
L. tatarica pulchella. (Pursh.)Breitung.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Blue Lettuce
Lactuca pulchella
Compositae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    An infusion of the roots and stems has been given to children in the treatment of diarrhoea[257].

    A poultice of the plants has been applied to piles[257].

    Although we have seen no other specific reports for this species, most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance ‘lactucarium’ and can probably be used as the report below details[K].

    The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air[4]. The sap contains ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties[9, 21, 46, 165, 192, 213, 238]. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets[4], nor is it addictive[7]. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc[238]. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower[238]. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted[4]. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used[9].

    The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness[238] and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis[7, 9].

    Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine[213].

    The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts[222].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves – raw or cooked[85, 212].

    A gum obtained from the roots is used for chewing[161, 177, 212, 257].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed[13].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow April in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Root cuttings in spring[K].
Prefers a light sandy loam[1]. This species is considered to be a noxious weed in N. America where it spreads freely by suckers in cultivated ground – even a small portion of the root can regenerate to form a new plant[212].
N. America – Alaska to Minnesota, south to Missouri, New Mexico and California.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.