Lactuca virosaBitter Lettuce, Wild Lettuce, Green Endive, Lettuce Opium, Laitue Vireuse (French), Latuga Velenosa (Italian), Prickly Lettuce

FAVORITE USE(S): To enhance vivid and lucid dreaming, especially as part of a dream herb smoking blend

FAVORITE TIME(S): Just prior to going to sleep

Wild lettuce, also sometimes known as opium lettuce, is a rather interesting plant that has been used since ancient times for its sedating and dream enhancing effects.  It was apparently used by the ancient Egyptians for its psychoactive properties, and was associated with Min, the god of the desert, procreation and fertility.  The Greek botanist Dioscorides discusses wild lettuce in his “De Materia Medica”, and says that it has effects similar to those of Papaver somniferum, better known as the opium poppy.  Wild lettuce juice was apparently added to opium latex to create an effective pain reliever and sleeping aid! I actually was able to find many mentions of wild lettuce in various documents from the ancient world.  Even Hildegarde von Bingen, a respected visionary and herbalist of the twelfth century discusses wild lettuce in her writings, discussing its psychoactive and sedative benefits.

I was particularly interested in wild lettuce as a dream herb because it is used by the Hopi to induce dream states that contain more information about reality than even the conscious dreaming state.  Wild lettuce is said to enhance the vividness of dreams when smoked prior to sleep and also allows access to lucid dreaming and to divinatory dream states.  It is also quite sedating, making it a wonderful addition to any dreaming herb blend that is to be smoked just before going to sleep.  I find that the effects of wild lettuce are very similar to those of kava tea – very sedating, and with a pleasant, relaxed, somewhat aphrodisiac-like elation.

HOW TO PREPARE/RECIPE: The psychoactive part of the wild lettuce plant is the sap, or lactucarium.  This is extracted by removing the sap from the plant and then drying it to make a sticky resin.  This resin is not easily powdered, and is not particularly soluble in boiling water, either.  The Hopi are said to smoke the dried resin obtained from the plant, sometimes along with the dried leaves and roots.  I have found that the most effective way of taking wild lettuce is to smoke the resin on its own or as part of a smoking blend.  1 ounce of dried wild lettuce leaf, or about 1/2 gram of the wild lettuce resin are effective doses that will produce pronounced psychoactive effects.