This foul drink is supposed to help you sleep.
Creator @Shapla_11 went viral for her video where she made lettuce water (by popping lettuce in a cup and then letting it brew in hot water like tea) to help her sleep. She admits that it makes her feel drowsy before updating us that it ‘is like crack because your sis is goneeee’.
That’s Gen Z for ‘it worked’.
There is a little bit of science behind why lettuce *could* potentially contribute to sleep. It contains lactucarium, a milky fluid found in some lettuces that supposedly has an analgesic and sedative effect on the body.
It was apparently used by the ancient Egyptians, has been called ‘lettuce opium’ and was used as a drug in formal medicine during the early 19th century, however it has largely been rejected in modern medicine. They also used arsenic as medicine during the ‘olden days’ so take that with a grain of salt.
Now – back to the future. Inside the ‘magical’ milky fluid is something called Lactucin, which was actually found to work on mice in a 2017 Korean study published in the journal of Food Science and Biotechnology.
“The seed extract derived from green romaine lettuce significantly reduced sleep latency and increased sleep duration in pentobarbital-induced mice when compared to other lettuce varieties,” it reports.
So – there is some science behind it. Keep in mind that in this study the lettuce was washed, dried, powdered and extracted from leaves and seeds of the lettuce to create the best potency, so no the scientists weren’t sitting around brewing hot cuppas for the mice. Also, it was on mice not humans.
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What effect did lettuce water have on me?
It’s a cold June night and I’m tucked up in front of the fire binge watching sappy Canadian TV shows on Netflix because obviously this writer leads a *rocking* lifestyle.
Just like @Shapa_11, I decide to break off a bit of the lettuce I have in the fridge and brew it into a tea – it’s around 9:30pm at this point.
Firstly, I don’t know why she says it tastes like nothing because plain lettuce water is actually gross. I didn’t want to put my other teas in it in case it affected the sedation in any way so I stuck it out for the sake of journalism and downed that cup as quickly as I could followed by a good brush of my teeth.
Now, here’s the thing. I do think that I felt tired but I wouldn’t at all say I felt ‘sedated’. Around 10:30pm I noticed by eyes drooping a little more and felt like it was time to shimmy into bed, but I still had the motor function to complete my whole skincare routine including gua sha so I was definitely not ‘out cold’.
For me the strangest thing was that I started to doze off and had *literally* the most vivid dreams. It was actually a dream I’ve had before, which I won’t go into the details of, but I was fully in it and it was so vivid. Given that lettuce water has been called an opiate in days gone by, I am a little concerned about the level of brain activity I experienced after one cup.
I woke up a short time later, around 11:30pm, got a glass of water and then slept through without waking until 6:30am the next day (which is late for me as I’m usually up at 5am).
Would I say I had a good sleep? Yes. Could the lettuce water have contributed? Yes.
Although if I was to give a final verdict I’d say most of the magic of lettuce water is in the placebo effect, where you can believe something enough that your body actually responds that way.
Based on the science, I’d say there probably isn’t enough of the active compound in the lettuce to actually sedate you and that it’s pretty unclear whether or not that leeches into the water when you boil it or whether you’d actually need to eat the leaves? It’s all a lot of hearsay and I’d doubt there’s enough research money going into a TikTok trend to prove it true.
However, placebo is a powerful tool and tbh, anything to get to sleep at this point.