Will drinking lettuce water help me sleep better? An FAQ


Q: What? Where did this alleged link between lettuce water and insomnia come from?

A: Honestly, I was googling various treatments for insomnia, got distracted, and before I knew it, I landed here. Skeptical but curious, I pressed on.

Q: What, exactly, is lettuce water?

A: No one really knows (or cares), but it seems to involve pouring very hot water over lettuce (unclear which varieties are the preferred ones), and then (waiting a suitable time for cooling) drinking the water. Wilted lettuce consumption is optional.

Here’s a video with some unsupported claims about sedative and pain-relieving properties of lettuce water:

Video with entirely unsupported and implausible claims about lettuce water and insomnia.

Q: Okay, but I want original sources, please.

A: Fine. Here’s Shapla Hoque on TikTok with her how-to post about making and drinking lettuce water to cure insomnia.

No caption needed– Shapla tells all, shows all, and then gets sleepy, on camera.

Q: I’m intrigued, but need a bit more convincing. Have there been any studies done on lettuce water and insomnia?

A: Why yes, there have. ON MICE. The little rodents were already sedated with pentobarbital (a well-established send-you-to-sleep-right-now drug), then were given a variety of extracts from romaine lettuce. They managed to stay asleep. The scientists declared victory, saying “Romaine lettuce is an interesting and valuable source of sleep potentiating material and contains antioxidant phenolics that protect from the oxidant stress caused by sleep disturbance.”

Q: Hmmm. I’m not really a science person, but does that study show anything about the somnolent effects of lettuce water on mammals?

A. No. And, I might add, the amount of lettuce you’d have to consume to get enough lactucin and lactucopricin (the compounds under investigation) would end up taking all night, thus defeating the purpose.

Q: So why did you bring this up in the first place, getting my hopes up and then dashing them, leaving me wide awake with just my salad bowl for company?

A: Fighting health-related misinformation is important, no matter what, no matter when, no matter how. 2021 has been a banner year for health misinformation, so whatever we can do (even if it’s just to keep you all from storming the salad bar, then rushing home to don your jammies and hope for a miracle) we’re going to keep doing.

Q: One more question, while you’re here. Should I get one of the COVID vaccines if I haven’t already?

A. Yes. Check with your health care provider, but basically, yeah.

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