Grow Your Own Drugs: Episode 5 Roots

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Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow Root

This week James turned his attention to roots, showing us how marshmallow and liquorice roots can be easily grown in the garden and how they can be combined to make a soothing syrup to relieve the discomfort of a cough.

Valerian is used to create a delicious hot chocolate, which could help to relieve stress. A homemade tincture is made from echinacea, which is used to make spicy ice-lollies that could help fight a cold. And ginger is made into some tasty treats, which could help people with travel sickness.

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 eight)
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 for no more than 5 days.

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 1 1/2 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.

USE: You can drink up to 3 cups a day for 2 weeks at a time.

NB. Valerian can cause drowsiness so check with your doctor if you’re taking anti-depressants or sleeping pills.

Crystallised 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.

NB. Contains alcohol so not suitable for children.

Use: Take during colds and infection – 1 a day for up to 2 weeks. Each lolly contains one typical dose of Echinacea.

STORAGE: The lollies keep in the freezer for 3 months.

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