How to Make Lactucarium from Wild Lettuce

The below was transcribed from the video by Sam Coffman, Herbal Medic Read more about Sam at his website, The Human Path, Outreach Efforts, Clinical Training and Sustainability Education. There is a link at the bottom of this page to Sam’s video on YouTube.

Wild Lettuce (AKA Prickly Lettuce, AKA Opium Lettuce) has a sap that is called “lactucarium.” This can be extracted into a highly potent final product that can be stored, used and re-diluted. Lactucarium is very useful for anxiety, PTSD, physical pain, stress, insomnia and much more.

You can prepare this plant in many preparations, tincture, glycerites or you can really concentrate it down into a black paste, rather like tar. This can then be re-absorbed back into different solvents. (we’ll talk about that later)

Dried herb… just before flowering.
Weigh it
100 grams dried herb
1,000 ml of alcohol/water 50/50 of each
so that’s a 1:10 ratio to start…
decoct it in 50/50 alcohol water OR 100 proof

Put alcohol and water and herb together in a pan and simmer (do not boil) until most of the water is gone and what is left is very VERY concentrated.

You can use a lid upside down to catch the steam. Or a bowl on top with ice in it. But crack the “seal” you still want the water to evaporate, but also want to catch the steam… it can be a long process.

But there are loads of constituents, many compounds that are water soluble and we don’t want to miss those.

In fact, if you hold your head over the steam and inhale it, you will definitely get an effect from it.

Now, when you are down to 100-200 ml of water, strain out the marc (the plant material left after you strain it). Put the marc into a percolation funnel… not a true percolation where you are worrying about drip rate, etc, but simply a rinse, running 500 ml of alcohol through the strained marc.

THEN…
Put the marc back in the pan
Add another 500ml of water
This means 2000 total ml solvent to the original 100 grams of herb making it now, a 1:20 ratio

When we get down to 100 ml of decoction we have a very very thick fluid that is going to be mostly water because the alcohol is now simmered out of the liquid. (it evaporates much faster than the water does)

So, at this point our decoction is NOT shelf stable… we’d have to add more alcohol or glycerin or whatever you are wanting to do for this…

By VOLUME (not weight), at this point, we have a 20:1 concentration. (2000 ml total solvent, decocted down to 100 ml final extraction)

This is mostly water and NOT shelf-stable, however.

But we’re going to go farther than this, because what we really want is the Lactucarium which is a solid when we’re done.

So, the next thing we’re going to do is take this very concentrated decoction and get most of the liquid out of it and make it a solid.

You can do this a number of ways…

What I like to do is double boil it because I don’t want to have it on direct heat. It is kind of touch and go here… too much heat you will burn it… So, we double boil. πŸ™‚

To double boil, we take our remaining 100 ml or so or our double decoction and put it into the double broiler so we aren’t getting direct heat onto it…

Once it starts to thicken up and become a sludge you can do a number of things…

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Put it in the oven to cook, no more than 200 degrees F (100 C) not higher or that and you risk losing the Lactucopircrin and that’s what we’re trying to get! It’s mostly alcohol soluble and we want to take care of that and make sure it stays in there. Among other things, there are (arguably) other constituents that may be lost with too high a heat.

You can also put it out in the sun’s heat. The UV won’t harm this.

You can put it in a food dehydrator and get it to dry out as much as you can so you can powder it.

How much does it actually weight now? About 9 grams, so now we are at 10:1 ratio! Remember, we started out with 10 grams of herb. This is very very potent.

So, how do we dilute this plant? Well, we can put it back into a similar solvent (alcohol) that was around a 45% alcohol. I prefer more like 35% to 45% alcohol. I know many herbalists that like to tincture this with a high alcohol percentage. But many constituents are quite water soluble, this is why I use a lower percentage of alcohol.

This is the way we can make it into a “doseable” form. Remember, we had a 10:1 ration… for every one gram of this concentrate that we were to dilute, it would be the equivalent of 10 grams of the dried herb. Bear this in mind when you re-dilute it.

This is the best way I have found to get the Lactucarium out and to then be able to use it. And such a convenient way to carry it around or to store it. It is shelf stable, so then you can dilute it back into other substances or even take it in other ways…

There are many different ways you can take this… You could nebulize it and take it this way, you can steam it and it would probably get something out of the steam. You could smoke it, but you would probably destroy some of the constituents with the high heat of smoking. You could take it sublingually or subucal (between the cheek and gum) and let it absorb sublingually that way or absorb directly into the bloodstream. You could take it orally like many herbal remedies; inside the nasal membrane even. There are many ways we could administer this, directly to the bloodstream or through the gut and into the bloodstream this way.

All of these work, some more effective than others. But this an effective way to have a very strong and easily transportable pain relieving substance with you.

The above was transcribed from the video by Sam Coffman, Herbal Medic Read more about Sam at his website, The Human Path, Outreach Efforts, Clinical Training and Sustainability Education

And if you’d rather watch the video…

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"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson

14 thoughts on “How to Make Lactucarium from Wild Lettuce”

    • Lisa, I suppose that it depends on where you live. πŸ™‚ At least 98 wild Lactuca spp. (Asteraceae) have been described taxonomically. Lactuca virosa only grows in a few select states, California is one and I think Alabama it’s been spotted there. But Lactuca canadensis (Canada Lettuce) grows in every state in the continental US except for Arizona and New Mexico. Lactuca hirsuta is common on the Eastern half of the US. Lactuca serriola is most common growing in all continental states. The particular species of wild lettuce that I understand to be medicinal and can be used interchangeably are L. serriola, L. canadensis, and L. virosa, but there may be others as well. One species of Lactuca is L. hirsuta (hairy lettuce) and has a similar leaf shape. I do not know it’s medicinal properties, if any. Hope that helps. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • I am pretty sure there is only one good way to get Lactuca Virosa, and that is by going overseas to Europe and the Middle East. Virosa grows in a colder climate. I believe the Lactuca Virosa in California is at an herbarium run by a university.

        Also, there is a person claiming to be growing Virosa in Alabama, but from the looks of the lettuce in his YouTube videos, it appears he is growing Canadensis. He never shows the bottoms of his plants in his videos, so it’s impossible to see that rounded frilly leaf which is characteristic of Virosa. Virosa is a cold hardy plant, and even the hills of Tennessee are too warm for Virosa. Room temperature is too warm as well. The YouTubers has shown no evidence nor has anyone else that Virosa exists in Alabama.

        There is one map on one site not ran by a University that shows Virosa in Alabama, and I wish I could remember which one it is. Lol Let me know if you remember. Serriola is the closest cousin we have in the States to Virosa, and the lettuce I have seen that’s been closest in appearance to Virosa has been in Kentucky. It was actually Serriola that had rounded leaves instead of toothed leaves. Still Serriola though. Other species in the US include Lactuca Biennis, Saligna, Ludoviciana, Floridana, and numerous others. There are definitely more with medicinal properties, but before I open my mouth too wide, I want to wait until I have more research.πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’š

  1. Thank you . I make many extracts, tinctures etc from medicinal plants I grow including 2 variaties of wild lettuce, sage, garlic, eucalyptus, chrysanthimum, milkweed, elacampane, calendula, comfrey, echinacea and more. Your article has answered many questions for me, it’s concise content is indicative to the University of Marylands lab reports, good on you, and again …thank you.

    Reply
    • Sean, I can’t personally because all I have used is the powder. I’ve never smoked it. Sam does discuss this in the video (briefly)… the last two paragraphs state…

      There are many different ways you can take this… You could nebulize it and take it this way, you can steam it and it would probably get something out of the steam. You could smoke it, but you would probably destroy some of the constituents with the high heat of smoking. You could take it sublingually or subucal (between the cheek and gum) and let it absorb sublingually that way or absorb directly into the bloodstream. You could take it orally like many herbal remedies; inside the nasal membrane even. There are many ways we could administer this, directly to the bloodstream or through the gut and into the bloodstream this way.

      All of these work, some more effective than others. But this an effective way to have a very strong and easily transportable pain relieving substance with you.

      Hope that helps a bit. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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