BBC2 launches a show titled Grow Your Own Drugs, giving tips on creating remedies for conditions such as eczema and insomnia.
The series will feature James Wong, an ethno-botanist - a scientist who studies how people use plants. He will create an informative guide to plants and how their beneficial properties can help with everyday ailments.
The BBC2's 6-parter, made by independent production company Silver River, will see Wong use common flowers, fruit, vegetables, herbs, trees, roots and bulbs to make creams, lotions and lozenges.
"Most of us look for a dock leaf when we've been stung by a nettle, but that's as far as it goes. We wouldn't dream of using plants to treat everyday ailments like eczema, sore throats, indigestion and insomnia. But James Wong, a 27-year-old ethnobotanist (a scientist who studies how people use plants), wants to change our minds. He passionately believes that safe, natural remedies can be made from the everyday plants you find in hedgerows, the back garden or local garden centres.
''Nowadays we think of plants as pretty objects, as soft furnishings in an outdoor room," he says. "But just two generations ago they were your hardware store and chemist all rolled into one." In Malaysia, where Wong grew up, everyone treated themselves with natural remedies. Food, too, was used as medicine – not only herbs, but ginger, chilli and garlic to ward off the symptoms of a cold. "My grandmother had a tiny patch of garden," says Wong, "which to anyone else would just look like a bunch of flowers, but she could make soup, or a face pack, or something to treat insect bites, in a matter of minutes. It was magical – real Harry Potter stuff.'' .....
As a lecturer at Kent University, James is used to making the dry, academic facts about plants relevant and exciting, and he's enjoyed making his first television series, starting on BBC Two on Monday. ''Although,'' he says thoughtfully, ''I'm a bit worried about being recognised in Tesco's.'' If pressed to pick a favourite home-grown remedy out of the wealth of recipes he has gathered together, he admits to having a soft spot for the restorative powers of chilli. ''Scotch Bonnet or habanero boosts circulation and numbs pain,'' he says. ''We've used it to treat a whole team of battered rugby players.''
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Grown Your Own is on BBC2 commencing Monday 2nd March at 8.30pm
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