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Grow Your Own Drugs


Grow Your Own Drugs Recipes: Week 3

Ginkgo Tea for Memory
2 tsp dried/5 fresh ginkgo leaves per cup
1 drinking cup freshly boiled water

Add the ginkgo leaves to the cup of freshly boiled water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink immediately.
USE Drink this tea once or twice a day.

Neem Lotion for Headlice
Makes enough for 5-10 doses
20 tbsp (approx. 100 g) fresh rosemary leaves
20 tbsp (approx. 25 g) fresh lavender flowers
200 ml neem oil
200 ml almond oil
6 garlic cloves,minced
2 tbsp tea tree oil

1 Strip the rosemary leaves and lavender flowers from their sprigs.
2 Combine the neem and almond oil together in a measuring jug.
3 Crush half the rosemary and lavender in a mortar and pestle with a little of the oil,to help ease the crushing process. Place the mashed-up herbs in a saucepan. Repeat with the second half of the rosemary and lavender, again adding a little oil for crushing.
4 Place the crushed herbs, neem and almond oil in the pan, and add the chopped garlic. Heat gently for about 20 minutes.
5 Strain through a sieve lined with muslin. Add the tea tree oil to the reserved oil, stir, then filter into a sterilized 500 ml bottle.
USE If using immediately, apply to dry hair, making sure that the hair is completely covered and that the oil penetrates to the scalp. Cover with a towel and leave on for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. Then wash off with two applications of shampoo. Apply conditioner, and comb through with a nit comb. Use the next application 7 days later, to deal with any nits that may hatch during that time. Comb through with the nit comb every 3 days.
STORAGE Keeps for 6 months.

Horse Chestnut Tincture
20 conkers
500 ml vodka

1 Blend the conkers and vodka in a liquidizer until smooth.
2 Place in a sterilized bottle and keep in a cool dark place for 10 days to 1 month, shaking every day or so. Strain before using.
STORAGE Keeps for up to 1 year.
NB This tincture is only to be used to make the Horse Chestnut Gel and must not be taken internally.

Horse Chestnut Gel for varicose veins
3 sachets vegetable gelatine
150 ml water
150 ml Horse Chestnut Tincture
5 drops lavender oil

1 Add the vegetable gelatine to 150 ml cold water in a pan and whisk until dissolved.  Heat for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. As the mix starts to thicken, slowly pour in the Horse Chestnut Tincture a little at a time. Add the lavender oil.
2 Pour into a 250 ml sterilized bottle.
USE Try a 24-hour patch test before using [horse chestnut can irritate. Apply to affected areas twice daily, or as often as required.
STORAGE The gel keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator.

Pine Deodorant
1/2 tsp pine resin
250 ml vodka (or just enough to cover the ingredients)
rind of 2 lemons, finely chopped
rind of 2 oranges, finely chopped
10 fresh bay leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh pine needles, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp glycerine
100 ml orange blossom water

1 Crush the pine resin in a pestle and mortar until you have a very fine powder. Pour over 1 tbsp of vodka and stir to dissolve. The mixture should form a thin paste. Add the chopped lemon and orange rind to the mortar and stir with a spoon to remove the last traces of sticky resin from the sides.
2 Place the resin mixture along with the bay leaves, pine needles and thyme in a Kilner jar. Add enough vodka to cover, then seal and leave in a dark place for 2 weeks to 1 month.
3 When ready, strain off the herbs through a muslin-lined sieve into a jug, and stir in the glycerine and orange blossom water. Pour into a 100 ml glass spray bottle.
USE Do a 24-hour test on a small patch of skin before using. Shake well and apply every morning to underarms, feet, etc.
STORAGE Keeps for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place.


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.