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Grow Your Own Drugs


Grow Your Own Drugs Recipes Week 5

Marshmallow and Liquorice Cough Syrup
If using dried marshmallow root:
4 tbsp dried marshmallow root, chopped roughly
2 dried liquorice roots, broken up into small pieces
3 heads/bunches fresh elderberries
1 tsp cloves
peel of 1 mandarin
1 tsp aniseed seeds
1 sprig fresh eucalyptus leaves (about 8)
500 ml water
100 ml honey
juice of 1 lime
5 tbsp glycerine
If using fresh marshmallow root:
8 tbsp fresh marshmallow root, chopped roughly
4 dried liquorice roots, broken up into small pieces
other ingredients as above

1 Put the marshmallow, liquorice, elderberries, cloves, mandarin peel, aniseed and eucalyptus leaves into a pan with the water. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by one-fifth. Remove the liquorice
and eucalyptus leaves and discard.
2 Blend the mixture in a liquidizer until smooth. Pour back into the pan and add the honey, lime juice and glycerine, then stir and simmer for 2 minutes.
3 Pour into sterilized, clear 250 ml bottles.
USE Take 2 tbsp, 3 times a day.
STORAGE Keep refrigerated. Use within 2 weeks.

Valerian Hot Chocolate for Anxiety
Makes 3 cups
3 tbsp fresh valerian root
3 tbsp fresh lemon balm leaves
3 tsp fresh lavender flowers
6 leaves and 3 heads from fresh passion flowers
peel of 11/2 oranges
900 ml full-fat milk
50 g dark chocolate (minimum 50% cocoa solids) dash of vanilla extract

1 Chop the top and bottom from the fresh valerian root. Add the valerian, lemon balm, lavender, passion flowers, orange peel, and milk to a pan and gently heat for 5-10 minutes. Strain.
2 Pour the infused milk back into the pan, then add the dark chocolate and vanilla extract and stir until melted. Drink at once.

Crystallized Ginger for Nausea
Makes about 250 g
350 g fresh ginger root
golden caster sugar, to match weight of cooked ginger,
plus extra for sprinkling

1 Peel the fresh ginger root and thinly slice.
2 Put the ginger in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with water, adding more to allow for evaporation. Bring to the boil and partly cover with a lid. Boil gently for 1 hour, or until the ginger is almost cooked but slightly al dente; the time will vary slightly depending on the freshness of ginger.
3 Drain the ginger and weigh it. Put it back in the saucepan with an equal amount of golden caster sugar. Add 2 tbsp water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for 20 minutes, or until it starts to go gloopy and the ginger becomes transparent.
4 Reduce the heat and keep stirring until it starts to crystallize and easily piles up in the middle of the pan.
5 Meanwhile take a large, deep, baking tray and sprinkle caster sugar on it. Tip the ginger into the baking tray and shuffle it round in the caster sugar. Separate any clumps of ginger pieces. Place in
a sterilized jar.
USE Chew on a piece of crystallized ginger when you feel nauseous.
STORAGE Keeps in a cool place for 3-6 months.

Echinacea Ice Lollies
To make the tincture:
20 g fresh echinacea root
80 ml vodka
For the ice lollies:
2 medium-sized red chillis
8 cm root ginger
240 ml honey
1 sachet animal gelatine
800 ml cranberry juice
juice of 2 large lemons
80 ml Echinacea Tincture (see above)

1 Wash and chop the echinacea root, then put in a jar and pour over the vodka to cover completely. Leave for 2-4 weeks.
2 Wash and slice the chillis. Peel and thinly slice the ginger.
3 Combine the chillis, ginger, honey, gelatine and cranberry juice in a saucepan, then stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Sieve into a bowl.
4 When the drained liquid is cool, stir in the lemon juice and Echinacea Tincture. Pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze.
USE Take during colds or infection.
NB Contains alcohol.
The lollies keep in the freezer for 3 months.


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.