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When to harvest wild lettuce, Lactuca virosa for pain tincture?

 
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I read, that wild lettuce is a strong pain reliever. I want to make my own tincture and want to know, when is the best time to harvest it? When it starts forming stalks or before? Or maybe when it blooms?
 
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When the stalks form and it flowers is the traditional time to collect the latex i do believe. My plants are usually so full of latex at that point that it actually weeps out just from touching the leaves. Cut the top of the plant and collect the white material that flows out and you can continue making cuts down the stalk, collecting as it flows.

You can eat the greens fresh during its rosette phase and there will be effects, although i would consider it more of a food and less of a special medicine at that time.

Is your plant lactuca virosa?
 
Joy Oasis
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I am pretty sure. So are you saying I do not make tincture from the whole plant, just from the sap?
 
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I don't think you even need to make a tincture. The milky sap is already a concentrated source of the medicinals. It is also extremely bitter, so you might want to put it in some kind of capsule. The best time to harvest is when it is flowering as the plant has the highest concentration of pain relievers at that time. I think the traditional way to harvest is to cut off the flowers while blooming and collect the sap that forms on the ends of the stalks. The plant will continue to grow new flower buds which you can continue to harvest for several weeks.
 
Joy Oasis
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But I would prefer to make something, that I can use later, when we need it. So can I just harvest the whole plant and make a tincture out of it? This way sap would get in but also other possibly useful compounds would be present. It is good to know for emergency though, that it could be used straight. Thank you for your tips.
 
Fred Tyler
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Whoops! I left out this bit: the sap is usually dried for later use. As far as how, or what to make a tincture out of, i can't help you there.
 
Zach Muller
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As fred said, the latex is what you want for pain relief, during flowering the rest of the plant will offer very little medicinal value as it will primarily be a woody type structure to hold the flowers. If you want something that will save for later, just allow the latex to dry into a paste. The paste can be saved and either dissolved into a tincture or used directly, smoked or eaten.

If you want the other useful compounds from this plant than you can eat the leaves in the rosette stage, it is a bitter green, but not terrible to eat raw when its young. It is rich in nutrient at that point and has a mild amount of latex. Once the stalk forms eating it raw it out of the question and the plant transitions into a tough, fibrous, beauty that can put out a multitude of flowers daily.

You can cut the whole plant and make a tincture, but it will not be getting all the medicine possible from that plant and it might waste some energy prossessing so much fibrous matter. If you make cuts and harvest the latex only, the plant will act as a pump, producing more and more throughout the summer, which can be dried and saved. Harvesting the whole plant would be a bit like cutting down the whole tomato plant to harvest the first flush of tomatos. Although mybe not quite as unheard of.

Also as fred said the Milky sap is very bitter, and will make your mouth numb if eaten fresh. But it is kind of an aquired taste like other bitter things so it is worth a try.
 
Joy Oasis
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My lettuce grew larger, but no stems yet. I took a few leaves already and started tincturing them as some websites say leaves are medicinal too. Here are some sites that talk about it:
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail364.php
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_wild_lettuce.htm
http://www.treelite.com/NF/2008/08/Wild-Lettuce-Lactuca-scariola
It is used for pain, but also for coughs (combined with licorice), better sleep, anxiety, colic, topically for warts and chapped skin. I think I will make a tincture from the mix of leaves and stems, that is easiest, and it will have whole plant properties -more rounded, I think. I will leave one to go to seed, so I can save them.
 
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In my garden, lettuce turns bitter in hot weather, and flowers soon after. That's about June for me. I don't plant lettuce during the summer because it is too bitter. Withhold water for even more bitterness.

Edited after Joy's following comment to add: Growing in full sun also leads to earlier and stronger bitterness.
 
Joy Oasis
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Hmm, I planted it in summer and it was really hot last summer, but it was basically in the shade from tomato and other plants, so that might have kept it from maturing quickly. Now I removed other plants nearby and it started growing stronger. I know, that all lettuces prefer to be in semi shade in heat. But it will be bitter. Lots of medicinals are.
 
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Zach Muller wrote:When the stalks form and it flowers is the traditional time to collect the latex i do believe. My plants are usually so full of latex at that point that it actually weeps out just from touching the leaves. Cut the top of the plant and collect the white material that flows out and you can continue making cuts down the stalk, collecting as it flows.

You can eat the greens fresh during its rosette phase and there will be effects, although i would consider it more of a food and less of a special medicine at that time.

Is your plant lactuca virosa?



Can you please tell me a simple way to fix this.  Do I boil it?   Dry it?  I'm confused.   I need SIMPLE step by step
instructions.   I've gathered several stalls but now I don't know what to do with it.  I need it for back pain (2 major surgeries) and can't take opiods.  Tia
 
Joy Oasis
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Ione Shirley wrote:
Can you please tell me a simple way to fix this.  Do I boil it?   Dry it?  I'm confused.   I need SIMPLE step by step
instructions.   I've gathered several stalls but now I don't know what to do with it.  I need it for back pain (2 major surgeries) and can't take opiods.  Tia


 Check out herbalist Jim McDonald website. If I remember correctly he has whole page about back pain and herbs for it. Also one of the best books about making your own herbal formulas for variety conditions is Herbal Pharmacist by Linda Page.
 I used my wild lettuce tincture, and it does help with pain, though I tend to become nauseated from it, so I prefer Devil's claw, wood betony, and other things. My is mostly for migraine. Anyway, this is from my file -from what I gathered, tried some, but not all:
**********************************************************************
Pain relief
Turmeric - take a heaping teaspoon, mix in smallish amount of water - works really well from muscle pain
Ginger - take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried ginger powder (for 150 lb person.)
Bistort (Polygonum bistorta)-one of the strongest natural painkillers.
Silk tassel (Garrya spp.)—Pain relief; tincture; low to medium dose -start with 5-10 drops; a good general pain reliever

Lobelia tincture -internally 1/2 teaspoon or externally for pain  due to spasms as in overworked muscles. Can make one vomit, if taken more.
Canadian horseweed Conyza canadensis
Sage: Great for digestive headaches caused by an overindulgence or too much animal fat. Also one of the better herbs for hormonally caused headaches, especially with hot flashes. In a larger dose, it works great for tension headaches too.
Peony: For crazy neck spasms, general tension and sensory over stimulation." I’ve found it to work wonderfully for PMS headaches (and it helps the cramps and moodiness too). A great and underused herb (see Michael Moore’s Medicine Plants of the Mountain West for an in-depth discussion).
Ginger: For cold headaches, and those caused by external influences such as viruses. Also seems to work really great for headaches caused by circulatory congestion and cold, stuck sinus infections. Also works well as a migraine preventative by keeping blood vessels dilated.
Eucommia bark (Eucommia ulmoides) -it can be used as a tonic herb, helpful in bone, joint, ligament pain.
The bark cannot be eaten in its raw state but must go through a hot water extraction process, either by simmering the dried material in water as a liquid tea or by concentrating it into a powdered hot water extract. It can also be prepared as a tincture in alcohol.
Passion flower leaf tea or tincture
Wood betony - take a dropersful, if not relived within 20 minutes, take another one. It is a safe herb, so you can take quite a few. 6 dropers equal to 1 teaspoon.
Wild lettuce -make tea or tincture with leaves and stem, take 2-4 ml (40-80 drops) about 3 times a day. Sap in the stem contains more narcotic stuff, but it is very weak compared to opium and doesn't give stomach problems. Can be sedative, so best to use at night.
Chanca Piedra- "My eleven-year-old daughter had two incisors removed. When the anesthesia began to wear off, she began crying in pain. She was given a dose (1 teaspoon) of Chanca Piedra tincture and within five minutes the pain subsided."
"Nerve damage pain - it took 4 cups of tea, before pain relief was achieved. 1 tabslp. of alcohol tincture worked better. "
Oil of oregano -either cpasules internally or externally rubbed in.
Devil's claw (not cat's claw) reduces inflamation too, more effective than commercial painkillers without side effects.
Cayenne and paprika
Evening primrose oil
Fish oil or flaxseed oil
Bromelain- an enzyme extracted from the pineapple plant, bromelain has been shown to be effective in treating inflammation. In fact, using 250 mg of bromelain twice daily between meals has even been effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. In one study, more than 70 percent of patients taking bromelain experienced less joint swelling and pain, and more mobility. When used as a digestive aid it should be taken after meals, but when used for inflammation and pain, it is best taken between meals.
Silk tassel (Garrya elliptica) relieves menstrual cramps within several minutes. If it doesn't, take one more dropper. Also for indigestion , bladder, gallbladder, kidney stone, and bile cramping pain. It can cause the duct to relax sufficiently to allow the stone, gravel or whatever else to pass with less resistance and pain.
"Most commonly tincture of leaves and twigs is used as it is very bitter. "The first time I made a tincture of mostly leaves with a few twigs, I was a bit dismayed by the black/gray/blue color of the tincture, the odd smell and the truly frightening taste. Bitter, biting and dull all at once in flavor, I was concerned that there might be something wrong with the tincture. So I made some more with the same result. This assured me it was the intended result, but I still found the resultant medicine to be less than inviting and actually avoided its use for several months before giving in to my own endless curiosity. I retain my respect for this strong medicine and use it only when it is specifically called for, usually be acute pain and cramping. It is very strong and can be drug-like in its action. It is therefore best used in acute cases, or acute stages of a chronic disorder (gallbladder attacks, kidney stones, menstrual cramps etc). It should not be used over a long period of time or in large doses, and never by pregnant or lactating women or small children. Also, avoid taking with any other medication at all, too many interactions are possible."
***************************************************
So as you see, there are many choices, and some might help you and some not. Some help after you take several doses. I like to have many choices as sometimes, one thing works for me one time, but not the other.
 
Zach Muller
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I am afraid the only way I know to get truely medicinal strength from this plant is to harvest the sap from a live plant, during later summer. If it is not the sap in that specific time frame I would consider it a strong food thats really healthy, but not really a pain relieving medicine. If you already cut the plants, just chop it and let it dry for use as a tea. This is just how I use the plant, others may know a better way. I love this plant.
 
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Joy, thank you for sharing that information on pain relief.

Thanks everyone for sharing.
 
Joy Oasis
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Anne Miller wrote:Joy, thank you for sharing that information on pain relief.

Thanks everyone for sharing.


You are welcome, Anne. I think it is great to know, that we have choices other than drugs for the pain. I always like to have many herbal choices as not always we will have access to everything,
 
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Here in Eastern W. TN(Holladay) it's near time, Moon is increasing, drawing sap from roots.
I simply strip leaves from stalk, chop stems with coarsest blade of Cuisinart processor, fill gallon jar about 1/2 full, fill with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, let sit for couple three months, shaking up occasionally.
I draw ounce out with baster, put in glass and add 4-5 oz. water and drink.
Works similarly to 500 mg. Tylenol for me.
 
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When it comes to a use of a herb, first of all you need to IDENTIFY the herb. Pay close attention to the online pictures or youtube videos by experienced herbalists who describe the plant and its medicinal properties.
Let me tell you what I do: I look at Amazon to see in which form the wild lettuce or any herb is sold and I read the reviews. Many of this products (on the label) contain very useful info like dosage or more herbs that have being added to the formula.
In the case of lactuca viriosa I think that is better to use the whole leaf as a tea, collected at the right time. In my honest opinion, the leaf contains the "pain - killing" sap and all this ingredients that promote the analgesic action of wild lettuce. And it's not so aggresive -rather mild than taking the whole sap.
Good luck!
 
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Once the sap is collected and dried for later use, how is it stored?
 
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Could the lettuce be tintcured in wine? If so how much would need to be the dosage? Tia
 
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I think the wine would work, the higher alcohol of vodka probably works better a solvent to extract the goodies out. I was shown to take the whole plant and run it through my food processor. Mix the mass with alcohol I use vodka. My ratio isn't very scientific. Probably about 2 or 3:1. I 've thought about doing a batch of limoncello with the wild lettuce. Lemons are still in season maybe now is a good time me to try a new recipe.
 
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I use plants that are free of any spots or bugs.cut it up and wash in the sink with a little dish soap. Rinse very well. Place in crock pot with water on low like about 200 and steep don't boil! For 2 days until water is dark. I use the stalk the most because that's where the medicine is. Then strain the juice after 2 days and cool. Put into ice cubes and it will keep for one year. Then put one or two cubes in tea when needed for pain. Works great for me!
 
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So I have been reading up recently on the use of Wild Lettuce as a Pain killer. I have Opiods, but hate them and only use them when absolutely necessary. That coupled with I am trying to look for more natural ways to do things with less reliance on Big Pharma and really, Big Business in General. So with that, I am looking for doing things in a more natural way.

That said, The "Milking" of the Wild lettuce seems like an extremely SLOW process and might cause me more "Pain" while I stand there waiting for the sap to come out. (Not like I have Taps like collecting Maple Sap). Cut, hold cup, collect, move down, cut, hold cup move down, rinse, repeat. It would take me an hour just to collect from ONE plant.

I found a video where they cut the plant and clean it. Chop it up in a blender with some water. Cook it in a crock pot for a long time (but I can do other stuff during this time) then strain/drain the fibrous material. Cook the remaining liquid down to a "Paste" then "Dehydrate" and then turn it into a powder that you can then put in capsules. While this is also a long process, I feel much of the time is spent "waiting" but freeing me up to do other things (where cut, collect, rinse, repeat keeps me actively involved for the full process).  

So is there better value in the more actively involved process of "Milking" the plant for the sap then taking the full plant and cutting it up and processing it?
 
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Dwayne Oxford wrote:Here in Eastern W. TN(Holladay) it's near time, Moon is increasing, drawing sap from roots.
I simply strip leaves from stalk, chop stems with coarsest blade of Cuisinart processor, fill gallon jar about 1/2 full, fill with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, let sit for couple three months, shaking up occasionally.
I draw ounce out with baster, put in glass and add 4-5 oz. water and drink.
Works similarly to 500 mg. Tylenol for me.



Hey Dwayne, I live just outside of Camden. New to permies and was hoping to meet someone nearby. I am fixing up a shed as my tiny house and starting a small permaculture farm. I am 66 and have a dozen young chickens, getting 2 hair sheep soon and have two livestock guardian dogs. I am interested in this type of medicine but not adept at identifying the plants. Also interested in making a rocket mass heater for this winter as well as a rocket stove/oven. Hope we can meet someday.
Scot
 
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I hate to sound silly, but what type of lettuce is this?  A special plant, miners lettuce or wild arugula? Not sure.  Trying to make an edible, natural garden in a field we have.  We also have some young fruit trees planted and was wondering if planting a specific wild lettuce around them would be good.  Help please?

-Moira
 
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Hi Moira,

It is none of the above.  I to was confused until I saw some this year in the woods.  Wild Lettuce is like a very tall dandelion.  There leaves look like the shape of dandelion but it has an upright growth.  The ones I saw were between one and two feet tall and not yet starting to bloom.  They were growing in the woods and supposedly this is an extremely common weed.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Ralph
 
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Ralph Kettell wrote:Hi Moira,

It is none of the above.  I to was confused until I saw some this year in the woods.  Wild Lettuce is like a very tall dandelion.  There leaves look like the shape of dandelion but it has an upright growth.  The ones I saw were between one and two feet tall and not yet starting to bloom.  They were growing in the woods and supposedly this is an extremely common weed.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Ralph



And no need to plant seeds in my area as far as I am concerned. I only really learned about these and their properties a few months ago. I have been pulling them up out of my garden/yard for years and trying to get rid of them. This year my wife is saying to get rid of them when i want to "Harvest" them for their medicinal properties. As mentioned, the leaves are similar to Dandelion leaves except they grow up the stalk. Plus they have like tiny prickers on the back spine of the leaf.

You can tell them easily by breaking one in half and observing the white latex sap coming out.
 
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I tincture the dried leaves in vodka and it is very useful that way. I hate the opioids and find that wild lettuce is another great tool in my pain toolbox.
 
Anne Miller
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I agree with

Ralph said "  Wild Lettuce is like a very tall dandelion.  There leaves look like the shape of dandelion but it has an upright growth.  The ones I saw were between one and two feet tall and not yet starting to bloom.



Lactuca virosa



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactuca_virosa
 
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https://practicalselfreliance.com/wild-lettuce-pain-relief/
 
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The wild lettuce I'm more familiar with is Lactuca serriola. Does anyone have knowledge or experience with the medicinal properties of this plant?
 
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Wow, could you post a link to that video?
 
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Thank you so much for the references and details!
 
                        
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Can anyone share pictures of wild lettuce?  I tried to post a picture of what mine looks like if it is the right one. There were ants and aphids on the stalks but I don’t know how much value is on that.
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