Grow your own drugs

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From ice lollies made from Echinacea to acne gels made from marigold flowers, home-made natural remedies are about to get a makeover as ethnobotanist James Wong reveals how to Grow Your Own Drugs.

In this innovative series, James demonstrates how to make a variety of remedies and offers an informative guide to plants and gardening along the way. He tells how to harness their natural beneficial properties to help with minor everyday ailments, from coughs and colds to eczema and insomnia, plus great ideas for luscious, free beauty fixes.

Episode 1 (Garden Herbs)

The UK’s most loved ethnobotanist James Wong returns to BBC Two with another series packed full of inspiring natural remedies for minor everyday ailments, plus a few luxurious beauty treats to make you look and feel wonderful. James wants us to see beyond the ornamental value of familiar plants and appreciate the role they can play in taking care of our health.

In this opening episode James sets out to reinvent our perception of common and garden herbs. His simple, cheap but highly original recipes include an angelica stomach soother for indigestion, a fragrant anti dandruff hair oil, an insecticidal wormwood and sage repellent to help banish the pesky clothes moth and a preventative migraine remedy in the form of a delicious feverfew butter. James has loads of horticultural tips on the best plant varieties to select and how to grow and harvest them, and members of the public try James’s remedies and are often surprised by the results.

Episode 2 (Incredible Edibles)

In the second episode of ethnobotanist James Wong’s series about plant based medicine, he challenges us to look at the medicinal and not just the nutritional value of some of the food we eat. In a fascinating blend of gardening, cookery, science and history, James shows us how to use turmeric to ease muscular aches and pains, whips up a moisturising body cream from something you would normally have for breakfast, invites two willing members of the public to try his pungent onion gargle for their recurring sore throats, and shows how to grow watercress on your kitchen work top and transform it in to a mouth watering and vitamin packed soup, ideal if you’re a bit anaemic.

Episode 3 (Exotic Plants)

You wouldn’t think you could grow half the plants in this country that James Wong uses in his natural remedies for everyday minor ailments, but surprisingly many plants we think of as exotic will grow really well in our own back gardens. In the third episode of his inspirational guide to the medicinal potential of familiar plants, James shows us how to use lemon grass in an insect repellent spray, transforms olive leaves in to a pampering face mask, makes a soothing burns treatment from aloe vera and chamomile and perhaps most surprisingly reveals that, not only can you grow tea bushes in this country, you can also turn them in to a zingy mouthwash to help fight plaque and freshen breath. Members of the public who are in need of help, give his remedies and beauty treats a go.

Episode 4 (Petals)

Ethnobotanist James Wong believes plants have more uses than just brightening up a flower border. They contain beneficial properties that could help ease the symptoms of minor everyday health complaints. In this episode, James focuses on petals, turning chamomile in to a luxurious bath milk and honeysuckle and jasmine in to soothing jellies for sore throats.  Members of the public are impressed by his ear drops made from mullein flowers, while James puts his money where his mouth is and bravely tries out his own rose petal leg waxing treatment. He shows us how to make a chamomile seat and sniffs out the most fragrant rose varieties. His recipes are simple to follow and cheap to make, and might just soothe your symptoms if you’re in need of help.

Episode 5 (Shrubs and Tress)

In the penultimate episode of his ethnobotanical guide to the medicinal property of plants, James Wong uses trees and shrubs to tackle minor everyday complaints. He shows one shaving rash sufferer how to grow witch hazel and turn it in to a cooling gel, and offers three sinusitis sufferers some relief with a fragrant eucalyptus rub that takes just moments to make. He meets expert growers and turns St John’s Wort in to a skin balm for cuts and wounds, and creates a delicious looking frozen granita from willow bark to help alleviate pain.

Episode 6 (Wild Plants)

It’s the end of James Wong’s ethnobotanical journey and he rounds his series off with a look at the plants that have provided a free living pharmacy for thousands of years – wild plants. Taking care to point out the perils of picking in the wild, James travels to Northern Ireland where he harvests seaweed for a luxurious seaweed body scrub., forages for elderberries and turns them in to an anti-viral jam to help ward off colds and flu, and tries to offer hayfever sufferers some relief with his nettle tea. He also seeks out a tiny wild flower called eyebright and uses it to make a compress to soothe tired and itchy eyes. For the green-fingered, James demonstrates how you can make your own mini wild flower meadow in a tiny back garden, and offers some historical and scientific background to the plants he uses.