How to grow your own pharmacy

Overcome Insomnia

The Fix: Lettuce

Use It: This vegetable contains the sedative lactucarium, which is perfect for adding to a warm soup for consumption before bedtime.

Try two large handfuls, chopped and blended.

Grow It: Potted from seeds (from www. in a sunny spot. Put five seeds in a 30cm diameter pot. Its leaves can be harvested in a month.

"Slice the tops off and you'll get another fresh crown in a few weeks," says ethnobotanist James Wong.

Neutralise Hay Fever

The Fix: Nettles

Use It: Add 3 tablespoons of washed, chopped nettles to a mug of boiling chamomile tea. Strain after 5 minutes.

Then add honey to enjoy the nettle's antihistamine qualities.

"Any venom breaks down in the heat, so there's no risk of stinging your lips," says Wong.

Grow It: Wild nettles can be brought home and planted.

Pick young shoots and replant them in pots with rich compost.


Cleanse Your Skin

The Fix: Lavender

Use It: Crush a handful of lavender heads and add them to a bowl of boiling water, using it as a steam bath for your face.

"It's antiseptic and anti-inflammatory," says pharmacist Margo Marrone. "You can also dab the oil from the flowers onto blemishes for good results."

Grow It: This sun-loving, drought-resistant plant grows best in a small pot with good drainage.

Use gravel and a light soil mix, and prune it back each year for a free facial whenever you need it.

Kick Athlete's Foot Away

The Fix: Garlic

Use It: Add two bulbs of garlic to 100ml of vinegar, crushed sage leaves and lavender heads.

Spoon 5 tablespoons into a footbath three times a week.

"The garlic creates a strong anti-fungal agent called allicin," says Wong. You can use this to stamp out athlete's foot.

Grow It: Plant each clove, which you can extract from a single bulb, pointed-side up in a 13cm tub of potting compost, in a sunny, well-drained spot. Water sparingly.

Colds begone!

Crush Colds And Flu

The Fix: Wolfberry

Use It: Add 5 tablespoons to chicken soup for an antioxidant boost and optimum nutritional support when you're down with a cold.

Grow It: Wolfberry bushes are commonly found in the temperate regions of China and Mongolia.

The young plants (approximately 10cm in height) are sold at local wet markets. They'll grow in any soil, as long as it's kept moist.

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