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Sedation, euphoria, dreamy conditions, anaesthesia (pain relieving).
Lactucarium can be extracted from the leaves and roots of L. virosa. The extract consists of lactucin, lactucerol (taraxasterol) and lactucinic acid. The three psycho-active substances are structurally unrelated to the opiates obtained from Papaver somniferum, but they produce similar effects. They both produce the same sleep-EEG pattern, namely, alpha-waves.
A mild oil, used in cooking, is said to be obtained from the seeds in Egypt.
L. virosa has been found to contain lactucic acid, lactucopicrin, 50 to 60 per cent lactucerin (lactucone) and lactucin. Lactucarium treated with boiling water and filtered is clear, but on cooling the filtrate becomes turbid. It is not coloured blue by iodine test solution. The usual constituents of latex are albumen, mannite, and caoutchouc.
The fresh juice reddens litmus paper.
Medicinal Action and Uses
The drug resembles a feeble opium without its tendency to upset the digestive system. It is used to a small extent as a sedative and narcotic.
Water distilled from lettuce (eau de laitre) is used in France as a mild sedative in doses of 2 to 4 OZ., and the fresh leaves boiled in water are sometimes used as a cataplasm.
Moderate doses given to the lower animals act as a narcotic poison, an injection having even caused death
Often used as a substitute for opium, Lactuca virosa does not match the power of opium nor does it upset the stomach like opium does. Commonly used as a mild sedative or hypnotic for insomnia and relaxation, it is also used for coughing, nervousness and pain relief associated with women's ailments. The greens are sometimes used in salads.It's use dates back as far as opium's use in the 16th century. The plant was once considered as a "rubber plant" for industry, it didn't quite cut the muster. Many experimenters find this herb has some psychoactive properties. It is a common ingredient found in many herbal alternative smoking blends. Herbal cigarettes contain the herb as well which some may find useful for "taking the edge off" when trying to quit smoking tobacco.