Last night’s TV: Grow Your Own Drugs – and thin out that annoying thick mucus!

James Wong

Last night’s cunningly titled show, Grow Your Own Drugs – cunning in that every pothead in the UK probably tuned in for advice until they realised what it really was – featured James Wong who told us, “I’m not some hippy who believes in flower power. I’m an ethnobotanist trained at Kew Gardens.”

He may not believe in flower power but he believes in the power of flowers so the differentiation may be one that could be argued about.

There wasn’t actually much growing your own anything either so I think Aunty Beeb could’ve used a better title, such as, Here’s Stuff You Can Eat Or Drink That You’d Find In A Field. Unweildy as a title yes, but more truthful.

However, James is an attractive, sensitive young man and seemed passionate about what he does. Now, personally, I didn’t have a clue what an ‘ethnobotanist’ is, so I checked… and courtesy of ‘AN INTRODUCTION TO ETHNOBOTANY’ by Connie Veilleux, Steven R.King, Ph.D. and Linda Morganstein, I learned the following…

“Ethnobotany has its roots in botany, the study of plants. Botany, in turn, originated in part from an interest in finding plants to help fight illness. In fact, medicine and botany have always had close ties. Many of today’s drugs have been derived from plant sources.

“Pharmacognosy is the study of medicinal and toxic products from natural plant sources. At one time, pharmacologists researching drugs were required to understand the natural plant world, and physicians were schooled in plant-derived remedies. However, as modern medicine and drug research advanced, chemically-synthesized drugs replaced plants as the source of most medicinal agents in industrialized countries.

“Although research in plant sources continued and plants were still used as the basis for some drug development, the dominant interest (and resulting research funding) shifted to the laboratory.”

So that’s cleared that up then…

Anyway, armed now with knowledge that could well win you or I a free pint at our local pub next time there’s a quiz night, other than that, this programme was, if not entirely boring, rather heavily geared to grab the attention of the ‘flower power’ folks that James so vehemently insisted he himself is not.

James Wong

To a soundtrack of exceptionally annoying guitar music that only faded slightly to allow James to speak, we heard that putting hops and lavender into your pillow will guarantee a good night’s kip.

“I know it might seem a bit Grannyish…” James mumbled apologetically, but those used as lab rats on the show who had problems with insomnia agreed that this combo of hops and lavender really does work. Pleased with their agreement, James added enthusiastically,

“Inhaling is a great way of administering drugs” as Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss et al would undoubtedly agree.

James also extolled the virtues of Chinese chicken soup made with Goji berries and chillies for curing – or at least helping the symptoms of – a cold by thinning our mucus, which let’s face it, we all needed to know. Who doesn’t want thin mucus? It’s right up there on my wish list.

And not only do we all want thin mucus, we want beautiful skin too and this, James told us, can be achieved with a face pack made from kiwi and papaya fruits.

The bottom-line message was this; don’t go to the chemist and pay for stuff when you can wander around fields, get stuck in hedgerows or in absolute extremis, shop at health food places for things like laxatives, said face packs and mucus thinning products. I bet Avon, the makers of Sudafed and Dulcoease are holding crisis meetings as we speak…

Mind you, at least James didn’t take himself too seriously for when describing how syrup of figs can shift that stubbornly wedged poopy that could cause painful constipation, he showed us his remedy concoction and remarked that it, “Actually looks a bit like its desired outcome” and indeed it did. I’d rather do like a mathematician and work it out with a pencil before I’d swallow what James cooked up!

And he was smart enough to acknowledge that hunting around in fields for a certain type of yellow weed or swallowing copious quantities of tree bark or some such thing won’t necessarily cure a broken leg and repeatedly reminded us that his remedies are not to be considered a substitute for “proper medical attention”.

Overall, it was the TV equivalent of reading a magazine while in the Doctor’s waiting room; not the worst way to pass time but within an hour or two, you wouldn’t recall a word you’d just read…

That said, with a little less bashfulness and a little more on-screen presence, I could see James Wong being to homeopathy what Jamie Oliver is to cooking and there’s no disputing he was a nice guy. Amiable, kinda vanilla, but a nice guy nonetheless. And he’s very, very smiley!!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.