Best Wild Lettuce Supplements (with High Lactucin Content)

best wild lettuce

Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) is a plant which has gotten a lot of attention recently for its many health benefits.  Because of this, you can find all sorts of wild lettuce extracts for sale.  A lot of these extracts aren’t actually very potent though.  Here’s what you need to know to get a good brand of wild lettuce which will actually provide benefits, dosage and more.


What Is Wild Lettuce?

Wild lettuce is a plant which secretes a white, milky substance called lactucarium when cut.  Lactucarium contains lactucin, a natural compound which is known for its pain-relieving benefits.  Lactucin is also found in other parts of the plant, including the seeds and roots.

During the 19th century, wild lettuce was used as an opium alternative for treating pain.  This is why the plant is often called “lettuce opium.” Today, wild lettuce is getting popular again for pain because it doesn’t have the bad side effects of opiates or cause addiction.  Like bacopa monnieri, It’s also often used to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Wild lettuce produces a milky sap when cut


Is Wild Lettuce Legal?

Wild lettuce is un-scheduled by the FDA.  This means it is perfectly legal to buy, sell or grow wild lettuce without a prescription.


Health Benefits of Wild Lettuce

In addition to relieving pain, the lactucin in wild lettuce has many other uses for health.  The plant also contains numerous other natural compounds which can have medicinal benefit .  For example, wild lettuce contains hyoscyamine, which is thought to be responsible for its calming effects.

Wild Lettuce Uses:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Cough (especially whooping cough)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Uterine contractions and painful menstruation
  • Inflammation
  • Digestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Viral infections

It’s worth noting that other species of lettuce also contain lactucin.  These include Lactuca serriola and Lactuca sativa.  However, studies show that Lactuca virosa is the most potent of them.  Lactucin can also be found in parts of some other plants, such as chicory root.


Which Part of Wild Lettuce Contains the Most Lactucin?

wild lettuce latuca virosa plant

Many herbalists believe that lactucin is only produced when the stalks, stems or leaves of wild lettuce are damaged.  The plant then produces its signature white sap, which contains lactucin, as a defense mechanism.  However, research shows that all parts of wild lettuce contain lactucin – even when the plant isn’t cut.

In one study, researchers found that the roots of wild lettuce contain more lactucin than the leaves or cut tissue (callus) of the plant.  However, because you would need to kill the plant to harvest the root, most wild lettuce extracts use the leaves and stalks.

Other research also shows that wild lettuce seeds contain high amounts lactucin, but these are also difficult to harvest to make medicinal supplements.


Age of Wild Lettuce Matters

While young wild lettuce plants contain some lactucin, older plants contain much more.  For the most potency, wild lettuce shouldn’t be harvested until it is at least one year old.  Unfortunately, most wild lettuce supplement manufacturers don’t disclose how old their plants were at harvest.


How to Use Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce can be eaten raw.  However, it is very bitter and unpleasant tasting and you’d have to eat a large amount to get medicinal benefits.  Because of this, wild lettuce is usually made into a tincture.   The lactucin in wild lettuce is soluble (dissolves) into alcohol, so alcohol tinctures are very potent.   The plant matter can also be boiled down to make a thick, gooey resin which is incredibly potent.

You can also use wild lettuce externally.  Oil from the seeds can be applied to the forehead or used as nasal drops to treat headache or insomnia.  It’s expensive to make wild lettuce seed oil though, so this use is less common.


What Are Wild Lettuce “Extracts”?

It’s very common to find capsules of wild lettuce which are marketed as “extracts.”  You’ll often see phrases like “4:1 concentration.”  This is misleading as the capsules only contain dried wild lettuce which has been ground into a powder.

Compared to tinctures, wild lettuce “extracts” are not very potent.  You are only getting a small amount of active substances and cost much more for the amount of product they contain. Because of this, wild lettuce tinctures are best for most people.

Despite this, wild lettuce extracts are still very popular.  They are very cheap to make and the capsules make them convenient to take.


Can You Drink Wild Lettuce As a Tea?

It is not recommended to drink wild lettuce as a tea or infusion.    The lactucin in wild lettuce is not water-soluble, so tea made from the plant will not be very potent.  On top of this, wild lettuce is very bitter and any tea made from it will taste really gross.


Wild Lettuce Dosage

The potency of wild lettuce can vary drastically depending on how it was made, part of the plant used and age of the plant at harvest.  Because of this, there is no set dosage for wild lettuce.  However, these dosages of wild lettuce are commonly recommended:

  • Dried plant: 500mg
  • Seed powder: 500 to 1250mg
  • Resin: 180-500mg
  • Tincture: 20-30 drops


Best Wild Lettuce Supplements

1. Sunflower Botanicals Wild Lettuce Extract

This is one of the most popular brands of wild lettuce.  It is an alcohol tincture with a 1:3.3 strength.  This means that a ratio of 1 part solvent was used per 3.3 parts of plant matter.  It is quite bitter and very dark-colored, which is a sign that it is a quality product.


  • Alcohol tincture
  • 1:3.3 strength
  • 30-40% alcohol
  • 2 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here


2. Dr. Christopher Wild Nerve Formula

The Dr. Christopher brand makes very good quality plant tinctures.  This one is formulated for sleep and anxiety and contains both wild lettuce and valerian root.  They unfortunately don’t list the ratio of plant matter to alcohol though.


  • Alcohol tincture
  • Organic valerian and wild-crafted wild lettuce
  • 45-50% alcohol
  • 2 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here


3. Hawaii Pharm Wild Lettuce


This wild lettuce by Hawaii Pharm is a glycerin extract instead of alcohol extract.  The lactones in lettuce dissolve better in alcohol, so it won’t be as potent.  However, you could use this product externally, such as by applying to the temples for treating headache.   The brand is very reputable and makes good quality products.


  • Glycerin extract
  • 1:3 strength
  • 2 fl. oz. bottle
  • Buy Here



4. WishGarden Herbs Serious Relaxer

This wild lettuce extract is formulated for sleep as well as muscle relaxation and reducing anxiety.  It contains numerous medicinal plants in a glycerin, alcohol and vinegar extract.  It comes as a thick syrup which you dissolve into a bit of water.  The taste isn’t pleasant but the dosage is only 3ml, so it’s tolerable.


  • Contains: Wild lettuce, wood betony, black cohosh, skullcap, passionflower, valerian, hops strobiles and ginger
  • Glycerin, alcohol and apple cider vinegar extract
  • 4 fl. oz. bottle
  • 3ml dosage
  • Buy Here


5. Swanson Full Spectrum Wild Lettuce

I do not recommend most wild lettuce “extracts” because they just contain dried plant matter and aren’t very potent. It’s much cheaper and effective to use a tincture.  However, if you want a wild lettuce extract, this one by Spectrum is a good choice.  They are a very reputable brand and do third-party testing of their products to ensure the quality.


  • Powder in gelatin capsules
  • 450mg per capsule
  • 60 capsules per bottle
  • Third-party tested
  • Buy Here

Phytopharmacy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Herbal Medicinal Products, By Sarah E. Edwards, Ines da Costa Rocha, Elizabeth M. Williamson, Michael Heinrich,,,,,,
Image credits:
Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) in Regent’” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Melanie Shaw Medical Herbalist,
Gifsla – Lactuca virosa” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by gertjanvannoord

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