Resembling a cross between a dandelion and a thistle, wild lettuce has been used as a painkiller and sedative for millennia. In the late 19th century, when “there appeared in the market cultivated varieties devoid of the medicinal elements found in wild lettuce, social commentators were not pleased. In fact, they became quite vocal as to the incredible danger this represented to society. It would be as if someone today introduced a salad variety of marijuana. There was great concern that lettuce would cause childlessness or would produce children with subnormal intelligence. A whole list of horrible things were supposed to happen if people proceeded with this shameless eating of lettuce. Obviously, the public needn’t have worried as they did. For one thing, no one would choose to sit down to a salad made of the medicinal variety, unless he had a penchant for the taste of matchheads. The lettuce scandal passed; unfortunately so did awareness of wild lettuce’s pain-killing abilities.”
It would have been nice to live through this lettuce scandal, and be one of the people to engage in the shameless eating of lettuce.
(Information taken from The Backyard Medicine Chest: An Herbal Primer by Douglas Schar, 1995)