Lettuce Tea: Effective or Placebo?

Lettuce Tea Helps you sleep?
Izzy Rodney

After a long, tiresome day at work, when our bodies are physically exhausted, our minds can go into overdrive and stay active. As a result, we end up tossing and turning, struggling to sleep and then go to bed much later than we wanted – only to feel groggy and tired the very next next day! However, what if I told you that drinking lettuce tea could make you fall asleep within 30-40 minutes according to the claims of hundreds of people on TikTok? Read on to find out whether there is some truth in this or whether it is just another myth.

You’re probably sitting there wondering how a lettuce could help you fall asleep, but with dozens of reviews and somewhat of a scientific explanation behind it, it could actually work. With over 7.5 million views, a woman named Shapla Hoque made a viral video about ‘lettuce tea’ and its magical effects. She claimed that whenever she drinks lettuce water, it makes her feel ‘sleepy’ and that within 30-40 minutes she could fall asleep.

Lettuce also has a folk reputation for its medicinal properties

You may know Lactuca sativa, the scientific name of lettuce, as a great food in salads alongside the occasional sandwich or wrap. However, lettuce also has a folk reputation for its medicinal properties such as helping you keep hydrated, being a source of both Vitamin A, C and K (all of which have anti-inflammatory attributes) and an antioxidant!

So, what is Lettuce Tea?

Lettuce tea really is just what it sounds like – lettuce and boiling water. It is supposed to be brewed for five to ten minutes, and then the lettuce leaves are removed. It has been reported that it does not taste of much and is rather bland, so to enhance it, some have added peppermint tea for extra flavour.

Is there science behind this or is it a placebo?

There is some science behind this claim; a study in May 2017, published in the Food Science Biotechnology journal, investigated the sleep-inducing effects of lettuce varieties on mice. It was found that Romaine lettuce had a higher level of lactucin – a chemical compound that has been confirmed for its sedative effects. Alongside this, the study uncovered that the seed and leaf extracts derived from Romaine lettuce induced an increase in the sleep duration at low and high doses respectively.

There is no proof to say whether the lettuce even had an effect at all

However, the issue with this study is that the mice were also drugged with a pentobarbital injection – a sedative used to help sleeping problems; which means there is no proof to say whether the lettuce even had an effect at all. Another problem with this trend was that many users were boiling Iceberg lettuce which is very unlikely to make you sleepy due to its low levels of lactucin! The journal highlights that whilst Romaine lettuce has some sedating characteristics, there is no clear pharmacological evidence that this plant exerts a significant sedative-hypnotic effect or sleep-prolonging activity.

So sadly, this viral TikTok trend claiming that lettuce tea can make you fall asleep is most likely a placebo effect. So rather than boiling your lettuce, it’s probably more efficient to just keep it for your salads! (You’ll get more nutrients and vitamins this way!) And if you are looking for foods that can help you fall asleep, try either a handful of almonds or tart cherries before bed – they are a rich source of tryptophan and melatonin which has sedative-inducing effects!

Izzy Rodney

Featured Photo by David Mao from Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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