Grow your own drugs


I watched the first episode of “Grow your own drugs” on BBC2 last night.   In this six-part series, ethnobotanist James Wong demonstrates how to transform familiar plants into simple natural remedies that could help ease the symptoms of minor everyday ailments, as well as how to make some pampering beauty treatments. I love the idea of using natural remedies in this way. I am not advocating this as a substitute for conventional medicine but I do agree with Wong, who believes  that there’s a big cultural dividing line between conventional medicine, which is thought of as effective, proven and serious, and herbal medicine, which has the reputation of being a bit flaky. He points out that up to 50 per cent of over-the-counter medicines are based on chemicals that were first isolated from plants. “Aspirin, for example, is made from the same chemicals that were first isolated from willow, which has been used for thousands of years as a painkiller.”

You should always consult your GP before using natural remedies, especially if you’re already on medication, but from what I saw last night, his remedies are highly unlikely to cause toxicity. In last night’s  episode, James showed how to use figs to relieve constipation, hops to deal with insomnia, made a soup to feed a cold with goji berries and my favourite part,  turned kiwis and papayas into a soothing face mask.

Kiwi and papaya face mask

1 kiwi fruit, peeled
juice of 1 lime
1/2 papaya
2 sachets vegetable gelatine

1. Mash the kiwi fruit through a sieve into a bowl. Add the lime juice to the kiwi mixture.

2. Scoop the seeds from the papaya, and mash the flesh on a chopping board using a fork (this makes it slightly easier to press through the sieve). Press the papaya through a sieve into a separate bowl and mix with the vegetable gelatine using a fork.

3. Put the bowl with the papaya mixture over a saucepan of boiling water and stir constantly until it forms a wallpaper-paste consistency. Take off immediately and continue to stir. Add the kiwi fruit juice slowly, bit by bit, stirring all the time. Leave to cool.

USE When cool or lukewarm, apply the gel to face, avoiding the eye area, and leave for 10 minutes to 1 hour.Wash off with warm water.

STORAGE Most effective when used as soon as possible. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.


See also:

Grow your own drugs: episode 2

Grow your own drugs: episode 3

Grow your own drugs: episode 4

Grow your own drugs: episode 5

Grow your own drugs: episode 6