Grow Your Own Drugs Review: Homegrown Herbalism

March 22, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

GROW YOUR OWN DRUGS: Tuesday 23rd March, BBC2, 8pm ALERT ME

The title’s probably enough to make every student in the land sit up and take notice. Sorry to disappoint you stoner layabouts but this is not a guide to concealing a hydroponics lab in your airing cupboard, it’s a broader look at how remedies for common ailments can be found in your garden.

Grow Your Own Drugs is presented by James Wong, whose happy-go-lucky and perpetually smiling demeanour reminded me of Michael McIntyre (except, you know, not unbearably awful).

He’s on a mission to remind us that we’ve abandoned some of the more traditional herbal remedies, so off he goes, pulling herbs and ripping leaves off plants, the vandal.

And it’s true, some of the most powerful medicines we have today are derived from natural sources – penicillin, the antibiotic of choice is derived from a fungus and aspirin which millions of people take every day comes from the bark of the willow tree. There’s no denying the potency of some of the naturally occurring substances out there.

As a scientist, he’s quick to remind us that his homebrews haven’t been tested in clinical trials which leads to a constant contradiction: on the one hand, he’s promoting these natural remedies for simple ailments, but on the other he always has to preface it with, “you never know? and “this might work?.

Still, as entertainment, it is rather good fun and the little science-y cut-aways which show what chemicals the plants he’s using contain and therefore why they might be efficacious are informative. He’s not some kind of far-out tree-hugger with a misplaced belief in homeopathy – you might as well start wearing your underpants on your head for all the good that’s going to do.

Perhaps James should be pushing for more clinical trials to be done on everyday plants – at least then he wouldn’t have to go round apologising in advance all the time. But if nothing else, the concoctions he’s making are tasty and fun and at least it has a cursory basis in science, unlike The Awful Poo Lady.