A new TikTok hack suggests that drinking lettuce water will help you fall asleep. It doesn’t exactly sound appetizing, but the science behind it is even more murky.
Essentially, the hack advises you to boil water with lettuce leaves, and was made viral by TikTok user Shapla Hoque. With over 7 million views on the video, she documents her try at the hack. At first, Hoque explains she felt drowsy but now “hella sleep,” after trying the water mixed with peppermint tea.
In the next clip, however, she joked that “lettuce has crack because your sis is gone.” The videos seemed to spark interest in viewers, with the comments flooding with people promising to try it too—but does it really work?
Following the popularity of the hack, many have turned to a 2017 study to explain the science behind it all. The study found that lactucarium, which is found in lettuce, had a sedative effect on mice.
The study found: “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.
“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. They also showed sedative activity as revealed by measuring the spontaneous movement in mice.
“The results of this study show that lettuce, especially romaine lettuce, is an interesting and cheap source of sleep-potentiating material and antioxidant polyphenols.”
However, some medical professionals have argued that the 2017 study might not mean as much as TikTokers would like it to. The study did use lettuce to encourage the mice to sleep, but it wasn’t the only thing. They were actually drugged beforehand, too, and the sleep of mice given romaine lettuce extract was then compared to mice given red lettuce after being sedated.
Michael Breus, PhD, a clinical psychologist, told Everyday Health that the lettuce is what helped the mice sleep longer, rather than what put them to sleep to begin with, and that there’s no way to know if it was the lettuce or the sedative that caused the effects.
Marie-Pierre St-Onge, the director of the Sleep Center of Excellence at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, pointed out another huge factor to Everyday Health, that the study was only conducted on rodents and not humans—meaning the effects could be different.
She also told Everyday Health that the study used romaine extract, which contains much more concentrated amounts of lactucarium than regular lettuce.
“It is not clear how much of the actual active compound you would get from boiling lettuce and drinking water, as suggested in the video,” she said.
As with most TikTok hacks however, there’s no harm in trying, even if the effects do turn out to simply be a placebo.