From the holly and the ivy to mistletoe and myrrh, it wouldn't be the festive season without traditional plants. But increasingly doctors think they could offer practical benefits year round.
James Wong, an ethnobotanist and presenter of this week's festive edition of BBC Two's Grow Your Own Drugs, says: "The natural benefits of our favourite Christmas plants are being uncovered all the time. But we can learn a lot from the past, too. Cherokee Indians, for instance, used to drink an infusion of spruce needles to help them stave off scurvy and keep the airways open."
However, you need to be careful when building a festive apothecary – mistletoe, for instance, is highly poisonous to humans. "You might want to stick to mince pies," says Wong. "You can't go far wrong with a dose of nutmeg and cinnamon." Read more
Friday, December 18, 2009
Have a Healthy, Herbal Christmas
Victoria Lambert reveals the medicinal properties of ten seasonal plants.