Celtuce (Lactuca sativa angustana)

Annual/Biennial
L. sativa asparagina. (correct name?)
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Celtuce
Lactuca sativa angustana
Compositae

Parasiticide[178]. No further details are given, but it is probably the sap of flowering plants that is used.

The seed is said to be used to make hair grow on scar tissue[218].

  • Medicinal Use

    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]. The cultivated lettuce does not contain as much lactucarium as the wild species, most being produced when the plant is in flower[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].

    The seed is anodyne and galactogogue[218].

    Lettuce has acquired a folk reputation as an anaphrodisiac, anodyne, carminative, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypnotic, narcotic, parasiticide and sedative[218].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked[33, 183]. A mild, slightly sweet flavour, they are rather more coarse than ordinary lettuce[206], though they make an acceptable ingredient in mixed salads. Old leaves become coarser and bitter[206].

    Stem – raw or cooked. Thick, tender, crisp and juicy, its flavour is variously described as being like lettuce, celery, artichoke, squash, asparagus or chard[33, 183]. It is usually peeled before being used[183, 206]. The stems can be harvested just before the plants flower without them turning bitter, though they might become hollow at this stage[206].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The mature plant is mildly toxic[13].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow March to June in situ[206]. Seedlings can be transplanted[206]. Seed becomes dormant at temperatures above 27¡c[206].
Prefers a light sandy loam[1]. Succeeds in most well-drained, humus-rich soils but dislikes acid conditions[1, 16]. Prefers some shade in the summer to slow down the plants tendency to go to seed and to prevent the leaves becoming bitter[18, 20]. Plants can resist some frost, they can also tolerate temperatures in excess of 27¡c[206]. They are fairly resistant to bolting, though they can run to seed prematurely in very hot conditions[206]. The celtuce is a form of lettuce with a longer and thicker central stem, it is sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves and stems[206]. There are some named varieties[183]. It takes 3 – 4 months from sowing before the stems are ready to harvest[206]. A surface-rooting plant, the roots can be damaged by hoeing[206]. A good companion for strawberries, carrots, radishes and onions[18, 20].
Of garden origin, it is probably derived from L. serriola.

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.