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Grow Your Own Drugs


Grow Your Own Drugs Recipes Week 1

Syrup of Figs for Constipation
18 g dried senna pods
100 ml boiling water
8 fresh figs, quartered
100 g sugar
juice of 1 lemon

1 Place the senna pods in a glass bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave to steep for about 30 minutes, then strain through a sieve or piece of muslin into a blender.
2 Add the figs and sugar to the senna infusion and whizz until smooth.
3 Pour into a saucepan, and heat slowly to reduce, stirring occasionally. You want to end up with a thick, glossy sugar-like syrup - this will probably take about 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir in well.
4 Take off the heat and pour the syrup into a sterilized 150 ml bottle.

USE Shake well before use. Take 2 tsp before bed when needed. Don't use for more than a few days at a time, or if you have severe abdominal pain.
STORAGE Keeps in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Goji Berry and Chicken Soup for colds and flu
2 tbsp dried echinacea root
200 ml water, freshly boiled
5 tbsp goji berries, fresh or dried
2 litres chicken stock (homemade or from stock cubes)
3 chicken thighs or drumsticks (preferably organic)
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
12 shiitake mushrooms,thinly sliced
10 cm root ginger, peeled and shredded
2 fresh medium-sized chillies, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves,chopped
extra sliced ginger and chillis, to serve

1 Combine the dried echinacea root with the water in a bowl to make a simple infusion. In another bowl, pour just enough cold water over the goji berries to cover, and leave to rehydrate. Set the echinacea and goji berries aside and leave to stand.
2 Place the stock and chicken pieces in a large pan or slow cooker. Add the sliced onions, mushrooms, ginger and chillies and place around the chicken in the pan. On a very low heat, simmer gently for 11?2-2 hours, or until the chicken is tender and falls apart. Take off the heat.
3 Five minutes before serving, add the goji berries and chopped garlic. Finally, strain the echinacea infusion and add this to the soup, reheating if necessary.
4 Serve by ladling into bowls and garnishing with sliced ginger and chilli for an extra kick.

USE Makes enough for 4. Can be eaten with noodles, if wished.

Hops Pillow for Insomnia
For a pillow about 32 x 23 cm:
4 handfuls dried hops flowers
4 handfuls dried lavender flowers

1 To dry the hops and lavender yourself, tie them in bunches and hang upside down in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. Alternatively, place in a low oven (about 100ºC) for 30 minutes or so until dry and crispy. Strip the flowers off the larger or harder stalks.
2 Put equal handfuls of dried hops and lavender flowers into a cotton pillowcase, and seal the end.
USE Place the pillow under or beside your head to induce sleep.

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.


James does not 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, particularly if you have any other condition or are taking medicines. They are safe to try, just 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.