Grow Your Own Drugs Series 1 Fruit

Grow Your Own Drugs Series 1 Fruit

James Wong introduces himself as a Scientist and Gardener and In Grow Your Own Drugs he wants to make us all think differently about plants and the natural remedies that he makes from them.

The Ethnobotanist trained at Kew Gardens and is no flower power hippie but after studying the use of plants he wants to share his recipes to help treat minor ailments, cheaply at home with what is growing in your back garden.

Traditional recipes and beauty treatments for coughs, colds and acne are growing around us and can be used to take control of our own health treatments.

James is not against conventional medicine but its empowering, as well as fun, but not too geeky to make your own remedies! 

James Wong

In this first episode he is looking at Fruit.

Fruit is not only good for us but surprisingly some fruit also has medicinal benefits.

There is no need to go to your local Deli in search of superfoods a great place to start is a walk in the countryside to see what is growing in the hedgerows.

There are hundreds of Kilos of free fruit growing in just one hedgerow but you need to know what is safe to pick as some berries are poisonous. 


Some fruit is brightly coloured to attract us to them like Rosehips and their bright red colour.

Rosehips are natures very own superfood and the bright red colouring of the hips of this wild rose has as much Vitamin C in a cup full as 40 Oranges.

Blackberries and their bright purple have been reported to prevent some degenerative diseases but don’t go buying the expensive shop bought ones look in the hedgerows instead. 

James Wong

Although foraging in the hedgerows for ingredients sounds fun you only need to go as far as your fruit bowl.

In this programme James is going to be making face masks, making chicken soup to help a cold, help you sleep and cure your constipation! 

James Wong

He will also be showing how you can grow many of the ingredients in your own back garden!

James is not carrying out clinical trials but using people to try out his remedies to see if they help.

Common Cold
There is no cure for the common cold but every year millions are spent on cold and flu remedies but fruit is a great way to boost your bodies natural defences.

Goji berries have been seen growing along the South Coast of England. 

Goji berriesGoji berries

The plants have bright purple flowers similar to Passion flowers and then they turn into the bright red berries when ripe.

James describes them as one of the most trendy and over priced fruits in the UK but have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for 2,000 years.

Found all over Asia they have many different names including ‘the happy berry’ and ‘the miracle berry’ all related to their medicinal properties. 

James Wong

James does not advise picking them yourselves as they are easily confused with similar but toxic berries but as safe way to harvest them is to grow them yourself at home.

When buying a Goji berry plant it needs to be at least a year old so you know it will get through the winter and it likes a sunny position.

They will grow happily in a planter so suitable for gardens, balconies and even a large window box and need plenty of water. 

James Wong

Every year you will be rewarded with a crop of these berries that can be eaten If you feel a cold coming or as just a dietary supplement for your immune system.

James is adding them to traditional Chinese soup that he makes when he is feeling under the weather.

His Grandma made it for him from when he was a small child and is one of his favourite recipes.

For this recipe James is using dried Goji berries that are available all year round from Chinese Supermarkets or Health Shops and make a great alternative to fresh berries. 

Goji berries

To rehydrate them you just pour cold water over them and leave them to swell up.

The berries work well in a savoury dish like the chicken soup and its also is packed with other ingredients that help fight off a cold.

The recipe is for 2 onions (antiseptic) 4 inches of Ginger root (reduces inflammation) and 2 chillies (thin mucus).

The strength of the chillies is a personal preference but as strong as you can manage as it is all to do with the flavouring that gives you the medicinal benefit from the chillies.


James uses Strong Habanero chillies. 

He also adds 12 Shiitake mushrooms as these are his favourite vegetables and are included in lots of Asian traditional medicines and used as a tonic for the older generation as well as coughs and colds.

When it comes to making Asian soups there no softening onions etc you just bung it all in with 3 chicken thighs, 2 litres boiling water and 5 stock cubes. 


Once its brought to the boil, it then left to simmer for up to hour and half until the chicken is falling off the bones.

Now for the Goji berries to go in once its off the heat as well as 10 finely chopped garlic cloves.

The chicken is then taken off the bone and the soup is ready. 

chicken soup

Whether the craving for hot chicken soup when your feeling under the weather is for its medicinal benefits or whether it just makes you feel better it must be doing you good.

Sleep problems
1 in 10 people have problems sleeping and James is going to help Andrew and Monica get a good nights sleep.

James is going to make natural sleep aid using something you wouldn’t think was classed as a fruit botanically as it has petal structures. 


Inside these is what gives it its bitter intense flavour and a smell that very British, it is Hops.

This bitter acid gives beer its flavour but it also has sedative properties.

The story goes this was discovered when Hop pickers were found asleep on the job and called Hop Pickers Fatigue. 


Hop plants can be bought at your local Garden Centre and are very easy to grow.

To dry your own hops you need to hang them up inside for about a week but you can also buy dried Hops on line.

James is going to use the bought Hops to make a special sedative pillow.


A herbal pillow may sound a bit old fashioned but inhaling the bitter acids and oils is a great way to get the benefits of the calming sedative effects.

Once they have calmed your nerves you can relax and drift off to sleep.

It is a very simple recipe and you start by cutting up some of the Hop cones.

Try to stay awake whilst doing this! 


Put 4 handfuls into a cloth bag or old pillowcase that can either be placed inside your pillowcase or placed next to it.

In case you worry that your bed will smell like a brewery you can add some Lavender which has also traditionally been used as a sedative.

Add equal measures of Lavender and give the bag a good shake to mix it up. 

James Wong

James says this is one of his easiest remedies and is worth trying as the making of it alone already has a sedative effect.

Although it is not an official clinical trial and you need some belief this can help, insomniacs Andrew and Monica thought the pillow was a joke and wouldn’t work! 


They both found the pillow worked for them and helped them to get more sleep than they previously had and will continue with the treatment and will make them themselves in the future.

Skin Treatment
‘Looking good can be expensive’ says James but he is going to show you that the fruit you eat can be used as a quick and easy beauty treatment.

Students and part time models Casey and Zoe regularly spend a lot on skin products. 

Casey and Zoe

They like the idea of saving money as they use a lot of face masks and exfoliators and do enjoy a good pampering session.

James is going to show us that fruit you can get from your local greengrocer or supermarket Kiwi and Papayas

Fruit like Papaya contains all sorts of interesting pharmaceutical chemicals and there is one called Papain that breaks down protein.

Kiwis are also known by their old name Chinese Gooseberries because they taste like gooseberries and come from China.


It was named after the Kiwi bird because of its fuzzy texture and it also contains an enzyme that breaks down protein.

Although you cannot grow your own Papayas in this country you can grow Kiwi plants.

Kiwi plants are available in lots of nurseries and its best to buy a hardy self fertile variety like Jenny Vine - Actinidia deliciosa. 


They need to be planted against a South facing wall, they also need quite a lot of room and wires to climb up and will take about 4 years to mature enough to get fruit in the Autumn.

James is going to show Casey and Zoe how Kiwis and Papayas can become a natural face mask as well as how to make a natural chemical peel.

He starts with the Kiwis which are full of Alpha Hydroxy acids and mashes them through a sieve to get rid of all the seeds. 

James Wong

You could use the bits you would usually throw away making it free.

You then squeeze the juice of 2 limes into the bowl. James struggles a bit with this.

Next the flesh of the Papaya is scooped out and mashed through a sieve into another bowl.

James is going to add a gelling agent, vegetable gelatine which you can find in the baking aisle of the supermarket. 


You need to add this or the mixture would just slide off your face.

You add the gelatine into the papaya and place the bowl over a pan of boiling water to thicken it to a gel like consistency.

You then gradually add the kiwi liquid whisking all the time so it doesn’t set too much.

Leaving it to cool so the mixture is still warm Casey and Zoe apply the mixture to their faces. 

Casey and Zoe

They find it very smooth and can be left on from 10 minutes to an hour.

As the ingredients are all fresh it doesn’t keep for too long but will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge.

Even though the ingredients are very mild you should carry out a 24 hour skin test before using and do not use on broken skin and check for any allergies. 


Casey and Zoe both liked the face mask even though it was more hassle to make, it also saved money and you know what ingredients go into it and they are all fresh.

Natural Laxative 
Figs are one of James favourite and Fig trees were traditionally used to remove Warts but most people know that Figs are also know to relieve the discomfort of Constipation.

Fig trees are originally from the Mediterranean but they also grow well in the UK climate. 


James loves the rich, sweet smell they emit on a hot summer day.

Figs are easy to grow and are frost hardy down to minus 15 and the fruit they produce is the same as shop bought.

They like to have their roots restricted so if you plant in a pot you should get more of the late summer fruit. 


James is combining the Figs high soluble fibre with Senna which contains a strong laxative compound.

This works by drawing water into the gut which helps to soften the food in the gut .

This home made remedy has the same sort of ingredient as popular shop bought remedies. 


James starts by slicing 8 fresh figs into quarters.

Figs are inverted flowers with all the seeds inside and the scar at the bottom of the fig was where the pollinator entered.

Next he is going to add the Senna that you can get from Health Food Shops. 


He is adding 4 handfuls as he is making in bulk but if making a 10 millilitre dose you would just need 6 pods to 100 millilitres of boiling water.

Leave it to infuse and cool for half an hour until it’s a tea colour.

You then put the figs in a blender and strain the liquid on top of the figs and blend until smooth. 


You then put the blended mix in a pan with 100 grams of sugar and cook for 25 minutes, stirring the pan to prevent it from sticking or burning.

This should now look gloopy like cough syrup and have a lovely shine to the mixture.

Take it off the heat and add some lemon juice as the citric acid will change the colour to a redidish brown.

It will keep in the fridge for 3 – 4 weeks and you need to take just 2 teaspoons before bed. 

James Wong

Do not exceed the dose.

Do not take this or any remedy containing Senna if you are pregnant.

It tastes better than the shop bought remedies and as easy to make as a smoothie! 

James Wong

James ends by saying making your own remedies for minor complaints is fun, easy and cheap but you must know what you are doing.

James is an Ethnobotanist not a Doctor so please seek medical advice and get a professional diagnosis before looking for natural remedies. 

All Photographs are copyright of BBC.Com

Grow your Own Drugs  🚽  Next Episode

No comments:

Post a Comment