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Wild lettuce is a traditional herb used for treating problems such as insomnia, dry coughs, and dysmenorrhea. Also referred to as lettuce opium, this plant has a rich history in herbal lore. It appears in ancient Egyptian art, was written about by the 12th century female healer and author, Hildegard von Bingen, and has built a reputation over the centuries as an opiate substitute because of the lettuce juice, lactucarium.
The dried leaves, containing lactucone, lactupicrin, lactucic acid, alkaloids, and triterpenes, can be infused to make a healing infusion. What can a cup of wild lettuce tea be beneficial for?
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Pain from PMS to Rheumatism
One of the traditional uses of wild lettuce is for pain relief. This herb has anodyne and anti-spasmodic properties that can benefit minor pain-related issues. It can be used for muscle spasms, muscular pain due to rheumatism, and painful periods. It can be blended with passion flower for a calming, soothing, pain-relieving herbal tea.
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Relax with Wild Lettuce
A sedative, hypnotic, and nervine plant, wild lettuce benefits also include relaxing the nervous system and allowing for the body to sleep. This herb is commonly recommended for treating insomnia, but it is also beneficial for restlessness and general anxiety. Wild lettuce blends well with valerian and pasque flower for treating sleeplessness. A cup of tea is great at the end of the day before going to sleep, but do not drink an infusion before driving a car or operating heavy machinery.
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Wild lettuce benefits also include treating irritable, dry coughs due to its anti-spasmodic properties. Drinking an herbal infusion of this herb along with wild cherry bark is an ideal natural treatment for incessant coughing that is keeping you from falling asleep. This is a great natural alternative to over-the-counter medications that can have negative side effects.
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How to Make the Tea
To make a cup of wild lettuce tea use one teaspoon of the dried herb. Steep in one cup of boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. Do not drink more than three cups in a day.
Wild lettuce is considered to be safe in small amounts. It is a soothing, medicinal herb that can bring great relief for those who deal with pain, who need to relax, or who want a natural remedy for an annoying dry cough. It is important to keep in mind that this plant does have sedative effects, and in large doses it can have a negative effect. Do not take this herb if you are pregnant or nursing and talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or if you are on any prescription medications.
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Entheology — Preserving Ancient Knowledge <http://www.entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=166&z=5>
Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).
image by H Zell (CC/flickr) <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lactuca_virosa_001.JPG>
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