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Grow Your Own Drugs, Series 1 Episode 4 of 6

Duration: 30 minutes

Series exploring plant-based natural remedies and beauty treatments.

Most people use herbs to give food a bit of extra taste and flavour, but in this episode, ethnobotanist James Wong explores their more traditional use in helping treat a range of minor everyday ailments, from cold sores and insect bites to bad breath. Sufferers try them out to see if these natural remedies help relieve their symptoms.

James also uses peppermint to whip up a fragrant homemade body scrub.

  • Further information about the programme

    James doesn't believe natural remedies are a replacement for conventional drugs, but they have been used traditionally to ease the symptoms of a range of minor self-limiting disorders. Many plant-based remedies are not clinically tested like conventional drugs because they are traditional recipes that companies cannot patent. If you want to give them a go, just make sure you follow a few common sense guidelines.

    Before you try any of the remedies, make sure you get a proper diagnosis from your doctor. If you have any other existing condition or are taking medicines, or if you are pregnant or breast feeding, then you should take medical advice before using the remedies. You must make sure you follow the recipe closely as well as the advice on dosage, and do a 24-hour skin test to check you are not allergic.

    You will find most of the plants James uses in your own back garden, your fridge or at your local garden centre, but some are found in the wild and could be confused with toxic plants. It is vital you know exactly what you are picking, so use a good plant reference book.

    In the series, people who suffer from various everyday ailments try James’s remedies. These are illustrative examples and are not clinical trials. Their opinions are subjective and do not prove if the remedies are effective. Many factors can influence results and the remedies might work for some and not others.

  • This week's recipes

    Lemon balm lip salve for cold sores
    Plantain cream for bites and stings
    Thyme breath spray
    Herbal body scrub

    View this week's recipes
  • Plants of the British Isles

    The Botanical Society of the British Isles offers flora maps, plant identification guides and archives of botanical publications.

    Botanical Society of the British Isles
  • Plant Conservation

    Botanic Gardens Conservation International is a global network of botanic gardens working for plant conservation and undertaking medicinal plant research around the world.

    Botanic Gardens Conservation International
  • Grow your own

    Explore the Royal Horticultural Society's database of plant information and gardening advice.

    Royal Horticultural Society


James Wong


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