I have a couple of small niggles about the programme recipes and the book recipes, some of the recipes in the book aren't adhered to on the show, examples are in week 2 'Flowers' programme, James used lemon geranium leaves which he referred to as just 'scented geranium leaves', the leaves look different to rose geranium for those that don't know. The additional clue to what type of scented geranium he used was when Freddie, the young lad helping James make the remedy, described the scent as being like 'lemony fish'. What James didn't explain is the scented geranium leaves were being added for their astringent properties, lemon geranium is astringent, but rose geranium which is the one listed in the book has both astringent and emollient properties, both ideal for adding to skin lotions and creams.
He also didn't explain that they aren't strictly geraniums but pelargoniums. I did write an article for the Herb Society website on Scented Geraniums for anyone that may be interested. In fact as I love scented geraniums so much I feel another blog post coming on about these fragrant beauties :)
He's using mostly fresh plant material, but most of the plants will only be available now in their dried form and so far on the programme I don't recall hearing him mention to people if you're using dried herbs use half the quantities. Something that people need to know, the book does mention this in some of the recipes, but not everyone will have the book.
Another niggle I have is about the recipe for Neem Lotion for Headlice shown in week 3 'Trees'. In the online recipe, and in the book the recipe has 6 minced garlic cloves added, but in the recipe demonstrated on the show it had no garlic at all. Personally I don't see why he couldn't have used a neem leaf infusion with some soapwort root to help it lather to make it more like a shampoo and add some neem, garlic and tea tree oils to the mix instead of using so much oil, unless the point is its the oil that kills the lice?
James is looking at 'herbs' next week, umm forgive me but as far as I'm concerned all the things he's taken a look at so far are herbs! I consider a herb to be any plant that can be used for its flavour, fragrance, medicinal properties, pesticide properties, can be used as a dye and a myriad of other uses, so that opens the field to a huge number of plants. The remaining two programmes focus on vegetables and roots, although I'm not sure in which order. Don't get me wrong my small niggles aside this is a great programme, in so much as its getting people in their kitchens and trying to make their own simple remedies and beauty treatments. I know from sales in my own shop that people are having a go, since the programme started I've seen a rise in the sale of lavender, hops, calendula, gum arabic etc. It's also been an active topic of conversation at the recent Mercian Herb Group meetings and workshops I've been along to lately.
There has been a lot of controversy from angry herbalists because apparently no herbalists were consulted during the making of the programme or the book, only a pharmacist was consulted apparently. I've made my point about nutritionists not getting up in arms when Jamie Oliver releases a new cookery book and doesn't consult them in a few other places, so I won't mention that again.
Whilst I can see and agree with some of the points that some of the rational herbalists are making, I'm taken aback at the condemning attitude that the majority of them have about the programme, and by them not embracing it as a vehicle to begin re-educating people about our medicinal herbal heritage and the many benefits and uses of herbs. They should be being more positive and turn the negative aspects they see in the show and book and any issues they have, into something more positive and maybe next time the BBC will consult them? They certainly won't get brownie points by pouting, sulking and pointing fingers!
That aside, I've since discovered that the book was written with the help of Lorraine Wood a Medical Herbalist practising at the Archway Clinic of Herbal Medicine in London which is a charity company that is accredited by NIMH (National Institute of Medicinal Herbalism). Archway provide high quality, low cost, Western medical herbal treatment and clinical training for the BSc in Herbal Medicine degree run by Middlesex University [2019 update, sadly Middlesex University no longer offer a BSc in Herbal medicine, the umber of universities that do can now be counted on 1 hand and that number is shrinking fast!]. Strange that herbalists aren't acknowledging this fact, but maybe they don't know its the case?