Lettuce as a medicinal herb

We all recognise the lettuce, it is such a common sight in our homes. It seems to be eaten by so many people without any real effect, apart from enjoying its crisp texture in a salad, or the way it contains and holds salad dressing and so on.

However, it will come as a shock to many that it was used by the Romans as a calmative, and those night time tablets, Kalms, have it as an ingredient. To be honest, I can’t see Roman soldiers needing calming!!

Lettuce promotes calm, aids in insomnia and is a general mild sedative, but in order to get the most of it, you need to grow your own. The immature lettuce contains little of the active ingredient, Lactucarium. However, once the lettuce has gone to seed, it is much more concentrated, and eating a few leaves before bedtime will help promote sleep.

It is also worth making a tea from the leaves. Simply chop us some crispy leaves and place in a cup or pot and then pour boiling water over them. You can combine it with mint, or even tea. Avoid mixing with dandelion, which has a very different effect, even though the leaves look similar.

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