We Asked A Doctor If Drinking Boiled Lettuce Water Actually Helps You Fall Asleep - Men's Health Magazine Australia

We Asked A Doctor If Drinking Boiled Lettuce Water Actually Helps You Fall Asleep

TikTok is at it again.

There’s a new TikTok hack making the rounds, and it’s an interesting one. Luttuce explain.

TikToker @shapla_11 jumped on the platform yesterday explaining that she heard about a hack that could get you to sleep instantly. The trick, which we’ve never heard of before until now, says that all you have to hit the hay hard is to boil some lettuce leaves in a cup and drink the lettuce water.

“So apparently drinking lettuce water makes you sleepy..sis don’t sleep so Imma try it out,” she explains.

“Update, lettuce has crack because your sis is gone,” she says at the end of the vid, after trying the hack.

It’s important to note that although @shapla_11 adds peppermint tea to the concoction to make it taste better, she later remedied this advice with a disclaimer in the comments.

“Btw guys don’t use peppermint – apparently it actually keeps you awake so for the best results use camomile tea or avoid adding any other tea,” she wrote.

So, is it legit?

Well, there is a study that explains the sleep-inducing effect of lettuce, thanks to it’s high level of lactucarium, which researchers say can make you feel relaxed and super sleepy.

“Lactuca sativa (lettuce), an annual herb which belongs to the Compositae family, is known for its medicinal value. Traditionally, lettuce has been suggested to have a sedative-hypnotic property [16]. Lactucopicrin and lactucin are the major active compounds of lactucarium, and were reported to have analgesic activity equal to or greater than that of ibuprofen in mice,” the researchers explain.

“In addition, lettuce seed oil has been used as a sleeping aid and for pain and inflammation relief in folk medicine since a long time.”

But don’t go running to the salad isle just yet, like any TikTok hack, we did a bit more digging before turning the kettle one and it seems like things that sound too good to be true, usually are.

“We see a lot of health and medical related topics go viral and Tiktok definitely seems to churn them through. We’re all out for a better night’s sleep and insomnia is one our most common conditions – so it makes sense that this one’s really blown up this past week,” explains Dr Kieran Kennedy. “Like a lot of recent viral health posts though, there’s (unfortunately) more to this than meets the eye and the actual science behind it just doesn’t stack up. It’s similar to a viral Tiktok fad we saw last year when guys started dipping their testicles in soy sauce to see if they could taste it –  someone misinterprets a study finding and assumes the science is saying something it actually doesn’t. And just the record, it’s still definitely not true that guys can taste things through their balls”

According to Dr Kennedy, there’s just not enough science to back the claim.

“When it comes to the viral boiled lettuce water helping sleep post – the source seems to be a mix of folklore, herbal medicine and misunderstanding a few key studies that are floating around. Many herbs & plants are claimed to help with things like anxiety, sleep or our mood but when we do medical trials or studies the data often doesn’t back that up on a scientific level”

“Lettuce contains a number of compounds that have been studied to see if they might relax us, reduce stress and help with sleep. In this case, the viral Tiktok & online posts after have honed in on a compound called Lacturcarium that’s isolated from certain types of lettuce (like Romaine). It’s something that’s been investigated to see if lettuce + sleep really do mix, but the science definitely doesn’t back that so far” 

“Since the video of someone boiling lettuce leaves then filming themselves falling sleep exploded, a lot of people and places online have claimed that it’s a medical effect backed by studies and science. But that’s actually not the case”

“The study most places are using as ‘proof’ lettuce water helps sleep was actually one done on rats in 2017. In the study Lacturcarium was isolated from lettuce (by means far more potent than simply boiling it) and then given to rats to see how it might impact their sleep. While it did show that rats given lettuce extract might sleep quicker or longer, that doesn’t mean there’s evidence to prove it for people. The important thing to call out is that the rats in this study weren’t just given lettuce, they were actually given a potent sedative drug as well. The second key is that this definitely doesn’t mean any effect on rats occurs in people too – we’d need a lot more studies, including those on the human brain, before we’d make that call” 

“At the moment it’s something that’s been studied sure, but there’s not actually any evidence that compounds in lettuce (or boiling it in a mug for that matter) have any real world impact on how humans sleep”

So, why are people claiming it works? 

“People are probably asking then well in that case, why did the viral video (and other’s who tried it after) claim that drinking boiled lettuce water makes them feel more relaxed and sleepy? People might have even tried it themselves and felt it works”

“There’s likely a few things going on here, but it’s not because of the actual lettuce itself. Sleep is really complex and it’s impacted by our expectations, patterns and mood (to name a few) – a placebo effect is when something has an impact because psychologically we expect or believe it will, and this is likely playing a big role here. If we believe something will relax us and help us sleep (even if there’s no actual medical effect) then it probably will”

“Another factor is that warm comforting drinks are often a part of our bedtime routine, and they can and do make us feel calm and relaxed. Triggering those habitual pathways and expectations in the brain probably explains why people felt more relaxed and nodded off faster, but it’s not because of the hot lettuce itself” 

“There’s likely no harm here, so if hot lettuce water is relaxing and helps people sleep then I’d say go for gold. It’s important to call out though that claims online about there being medical proof aren’t true and this isn’t currently backed by science, no. If you’re after an evidenced way to help bedtimes then the science wold say you’re likely best to leave the lettuce in the fridge.” 

By Nikolina Ilic

Nikolina is the former Digital Editor at Men's Health Australia, responsible for all things social media and .com. A lover of boxing, she has written for Women's Health, esquire, GQ and Vogue magazine.

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