Pain accompanies many different situations and conditions. From diseases to simple injuries, the pain that occurs can affect the ability to function normally and it can interfere with your daily activities.
Its prevalence is one of the reasons for the major opiate dependency epidemic that the world is experiencing nowadays. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid pain relievers prescribed in the US alone have reached a staggering 207 million in 2013, making the United States “their biggest consumer globally.”
The prescription opioids are not much different than heroin and morphine, causing a fast-paced dependency and addiction. Which is more, it has been estimated that more than 100 million people in the US suffer from chronic pain, many of who will inevitably become opioid addicts in the long run.
Wild Lettuce as a Healthier Alternative
Opioid addiction is not a joke. It eventually starts revolving one’s life around the ways they can get the ‘high’ of the opioid medications, forcing people to obtain the medications illegally. Which is worse, opioid abuse affects the health in more than one way.
More commonly found in North America and England, this plant has been used for centuries as a pain relief alternative to the addictive prescription pain medicine.
The milky white substance this plant produces offers pain relieving and sedative effects similar to those of the opioid substances, without the presence of any opioids in it. It affects the central nervous system directly and it does so by lessening the feeling of pain.
Wild lettuce has been used as an opium substitute (thus earning the name opium lettuce) since the 19th century. However, its use gained popularity in the 70’s with more and more people using it as a more natural pain-relief remedy, as well as for recreational purposes.
Back in those days, people would prepare wild lettuce in various ways. For instance, they would cook the plant with water and sugar until the mixture reached a syrupy consistency. This syrup was very bitter, even with the sugar added.
The most common way of preparing the plant was by drying it and using it as tea. The wild lettuce tea is popular even today. In addition to using it as tea, some also dry it for vaporizing or smoking.
Wild Lettuce is used for a variety of reasons. The most popular are
- Migraines – People have reported experiencing fewer migraines by using the herb.
- Insomnia – Wild lettuce induces relaxation and euphoria, helping one to fall asleep faster. This is why people who have trouble sleeping use it instead of the commonly prescribed addictive sleeping aids.
- Anxiety – This plant has mild sedative properties, allowing a person with anxiety to find some stress relief.
- Asthma and Cough – Wild lettuce also has antitussive properties, helping with alleviating or suppressing a cough. Also, patients suffering from asthma who have used opiates experience more episodes when they go through opiate withdrawal. This is why some choose wild lettuce, which is the opiate-free option.
Although wild lettuce induces effects which are as strong as those by opiates, it’s legal to use and grow. This is because it doesn’t contain any addictive substances.
However, you should be careful with its dosage, as too much of it can harm you.
Just like with anything else, wild lettuce should be taken with moderation. Large amounts of intake can have negative effects, which may even result in death.
While wild lettuce is safe for most people in small amounts, just like with opiates, according to WebMD, large amounts can cause a slower breathing rate (respiratory depression), which may result even in death.
Ingesting large amounts of wild lettuce can cause sweating, fast heartbeat, dizziness, pupil dilation, ringing in the ears, vision changes, sedation, breathing difficulty, and death.
People who have the following health conditions should not use wild lettuce:
Enlarged prostate: Wild lettuce contains a chemical that can harm people who have trouble urinating.
Allergies to ragweed and related plants: If you are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and others, you should avoid using wild lettuce, as it will cause an allergic reaction.
Narrow-angle glaucoma: If you have this eye condition, you should avoid wild lettuce, as it contains a chemical that might worsen the glaucoma.
Use of sedative medications (CNS depressants): These medications interact with wild lettuce. The combination may cause too much sleepiness. Some sedative medications include: lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), clonazepam (Klonopin), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.