Wild lettuce (lactuca virosa) has recently shown promise in research as both a nootropic - a substance that can help improve cognitive function - and as a painkiller. This plant is a part of the Asteraceae plant family which has 23,600 species around the globe, making it a member of one of the largest plant families worldwide, and is usually found in various areas of the world including Iran, Austria, France, Germany, and Scotland.
Because of its psychoactive properties, wild lettuce is sometimes used recreationally by people looking for a natural buzz.
Wild lettuce contains two beneficial compounds, lactucin and lactucopicrin, that act on the central nervous system as a painkiller and sedative. Wild lettuce has the highest concentration of lactucopicrin of all plants and is also meant to have potent antimicrobial properties. Certain types of sesquiterpene lactones found in wild lettuce can even help to reduce inflammation, potentially alleviating pain from specific ailments like arthritis.
A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2018 found that lactucopicrin actually increased neuritogenesis in brain cells extracted from lab rats, which is promising in terms of helping fight Alzheimer’s disease. Neuritogenesis is a phenomenon in which nerve cells sprout neurites (projections) that connect one nerve cell to another, strengthening the transmission of nerve signals.
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