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Why are claims that lettuce can fix insomnia false?

This article was published on
July 2, 2021

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There is not enough high quality evidence to suggest that mixing boiled water with lettuce can help cure or treat insomnia.

There is not enough high quality evidence to suggest that mixing boiled water with lettuce can help cure or treat insomnia.

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What our experts say

Lettuce mixed with or soaked in water with honey cannot cure insomnia. However, lettuce does contain a phytonutrient called lactucarium, which may contain some sedative and calming properties in very large amounts. A few leaves of lettuce soaked in boiling water would not produce enough of the milky substance from the lettuce stem to aid with sleep challenges. It should be noted that the primary study this idea is based on was conducted in mice, who were heavily sedated with a sedating medication and a romaine extract. This extract had a much higher concentration of green romaine lettuce than can normally be found in boiled water with lettuce leaves, or even within the contents of a salad. In these mice, the combination of the medication and the high concentration of lettuce were thought to shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and increase the length of time spent sleeping when compared to other lettuces. As this study was focused on medicated rodents and not humans in a rigorous research study, these limited findings cannot be applied to people, let alone those consuming water with a small amount of lettuce boiled into it. There is very limited data on lettuce water in humans so this claim can not be supported with evidence, but is likely not harmful for people to try. Until clinical trials have been designed with humans ingesting lettuce soaked in boiling water, current data does not support the idea that this remedy can cure or successfully treat insomnia.

Context and background

A viral "hack" on TikTok gained popularity recently because of the claim that lettuce soaked in boiling water made a person feel tired. The video has been liked roughly 1.5 million times and has been shared widely across the platform. Social media websites like Facebook have seen an increase in posts about the process of soaking lettuce in water to help cure insomnia. Some of these posts have been shared over 70,000 times and have many supportive, encouraging comments. However, none of the claims in most of these clips have been verified by a nutritionist, dietitian, physician, or scientist. Several users on TikTok have also tried this idea and posted their outcomes. Again, none of these claims had evidence to support their findings outside of personal claims and reports of tiredness. Until clinical trials are undergone, little evidence supports the idea that this combination can help aid with sleep.

Resources

  1. My Weekend Plan: Lettuce and Water To Treat Insomnia (Facebook)
  2. People Are Drinking Boiled Lettuce Water To Fall Asleep Because They Misunderstood A Study (9Gag w/ TikTok)
  3. Sleep-inducing effect of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varieties on pentobarbital-induced sleep (Food Science and Biotechnology)
  4. Sorry, but lettuce water won't put you to sleep (Nine Australia)
  5. TikTokers Are Drinking Lettuce Water to Sleep Better. Does It Work? (Verywell Health)
  6. Lettuce for Sleep? Maybe, but Not in Salad Form (Relias Media)
  7. Does Lettuce Water Make You Sleepy? People on TikTok Say It's a Cure for Insomnia-Here's What Experts Think (Health)

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