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When to harvest wild lettuce for pain tincture?  RSS feed

 
Joy Oasis
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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?
 
Zach Muller
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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?
 
Fred Tyler
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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.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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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.
 
Ione Shirley
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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.
 
Anne Miller
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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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