I Tried the TikTok Lettuce Tea Sleep Aid, Here’s What Happened

lettuce tea lettuce tea

I am a sucker for a good life hack on TikTok. I’m also a mother of three and permanently exhausted because I never sleep well. So, when I saw that now-viral video about how Romaine lettuce tea can help me sleep better and improve my sex drive, I was all about trying it out. (Although I had a lot of questions about how one can be sleepy and horny at the same time.)

I explained the tea to my husband and he looked at me like maybe I’d lost my mind. As he pointed out, I do eat a lot of salads, and not once has it ever made me want to nap. Or get it on.

I showed him the video where @petrichor_of_pachamama breaks down the science behind the lettuce tea craze and points out that ancient Egyptians were known to brew lettuce leaves for the hypnotic and aphrodisiac effects; lettuce tea was actually associated with Min, the god of fertility. Promising, right?

Here’s how it works: That bitter white sap-like liquid that you find when you cut into the base of the lettuce bulb? It’s called lactura or “lac” or “milk” and it contains the chemical lactucarium, which is supposed to have opiate-like effects. Hm. If Hippocrates used it (supposedly he did, that’s what Google told me), I sure as shit was going to try it.

Here’s what I did (while my husband watched in rapt anticipation):

  1. Rinse the lettuce bunch before cutting. You want to get off any dirt before you cut into it so that you don’t have icky floaties in your tea.
  2. Cut the bottom of the romaine lettuce base off; the white bulbous part that you usually toss in the compost when making salads is the part you want to keep.
  3. Chop that bulb up into smaller pieces and place them in a teapot.
  4. Pour boiling water over the chopped white bulb and wait. I waited about 15 minutes to make sure that it was thoroughly brewed.
  5. Sip and enjoy!

The batch made a pretty, translucent, mint green colored water that smelled delightfully fresh like, well, like lettuce. My first sip was interesting. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but all I can say is it tasted like super sweet lettuce. Some folks online reported using honey to help sweeten the tea, but I found it was already rather sweet so I skipped this suggestion. It’s hard to describe how the flavor of lettuce tea can be a lovely and enjoyable experience, and yet here we are. I asked my husband if he wanted some (some TEA you guys) and he declined. I drank a full cup around 7:30pm while folding laundry and putting away toys, and I noticed that I felt pretty relaxed within a half-hour of finishing my tea. I wouldn’t say that I felt sleepy, but I did feel relaxed enough to fall asleep if I had tried.

As for the sex…

My lettuce tea brew wasn’t strong enough to do more than mellow me out — much to the disappointment of my husband. He was ready to call a babysitter and get a night of alone time, but nope. The tea didn’t work quite like that. And although I didn’t find myself feeling especially drowsy (maybe I need a more potent batch?) I did find that the simple act of sitting down and sipping tea was relaxing and peaceful enough to feel ready for bed.

So, how did I sleep that night? I’d love to report that I slept like a husband, but the honest truth is that I slept like usual. I did notice, however, that I was much more relaxed when I went to bed and found it much easier to slip into some REM time. Maybe next time, I’ll let it brew longer and see if that makes a difference.lettuce tea

If nothing else, this experiment was a great reminder that I need to slow down and take better care of myself. It was also a hilarious peek into my husband’s perspective about how little intimate time we spend together lately. And I don’t just mean hitting the sheets! This experiment was an unexpected lesson in the value of slowing down and taking the pleasure of relaxation seriously.

If your interest is piqued by the idea of using wild lettuce as an all-natural, alternative medicine for pain relief or relaxing, you can skip the TikTok trend and just head to the store where you can pick up a bottle of wild lettuce capsules.

lettuce tea

In the meantime, I actually kind of love this tea and I plan to try it again for relaxation, and, yes, even the light and sweet flavor. If anyone figures out how to brew this tea strong enough to get a romantic evening out of a cup then please let me know, I’m sure my husband would be grateful.

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Sarah Cottrell is a Maine-based freelance journalist and lifestyle writer. Her work has been featured on VICE Tonic, New York Magazine, Washington Post, and has been included in seven anthologies including the New York Times bestselling series, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. sarahcottrellfreelance.com.