Medicine or myth? Home remedies put to the test


Do they suffer from cold sores and despair for a cure? How about smearing some wax on your lip? Not conventional, of course, but apparently it works. And do not worry if you do not have enough wax to do the job, you can use anyone's. At least according to a home remedy released in Medicine or myth?, The new SBS reality show.

Hundreds of people requested to appear, all eager to share their passion for home treatments, such as sauerkraut for acne, sage tea for hot flashes and even a beer that cures cough.

The neurosurgeon Charlie Teo appears in his first role on television.

The neurosurgeon Charlie Teo appears in his first role on television.

The program sees them launch their ideas in the hope of helping others deal with medical illnesses, big and small. Some are old remedies, others more recent. Presented by journalist Jan Fran, it's like a Shark tank specifically for health problems.

The evaluation of wild and sometimes extravagant home treatments is a panel of three health professionals. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Charlie Teo, heads the group, along with the family and women's health expert, Dr. Ginni Mansberg and the associate professor of immunology Ashraful Haque.


The experts hear about the treatments that people have devised, discuss their merits and then decide if further investigation is necessary. At the end of each episode, information is provided about whether the remedy is viable. While there is a clear respect among the panelists, they do not agree.

So, were there featured treatments? Matt says that many were wonderful, but suddenly he presses the ear wax for cold sores. "How disgusting is that?"

My mother's Chinese, so it was the treatment of tiger balm.

However, there is a credible science behind this, he says, because the ear wax contains antiviral and antibacterial qualities.

Most of us grew up with home remedies of some variety: a teaspoon of white vinegar for hiccups, ginger for nausea or salt water gargles for sore throat, to name a few.

Growing up in Singapore, Teo's education was no different. "My mother's Chinese, so it was the treatment with Tiger Balm: I put Tiger Balm on my head when I had a headache, on my lips or on my nose when I had a cold, on my chest when I had a cough, on my belly I had a little bit of belly pain when I had it, we had it in the food or in the sauces when we had gastrointestinal problems. "

For him, there were two significant factors at play in the process of making Medicine or myth?

"There is the scientific and incredibly intriguing part of the program and then there is the emotive part of the program, which I did not really predict, and these people really know that their remedies work and that, altruistically, they want to spread the word and that other people benefit from them. "

"But when they tell people, no doubt a doctor or a health professional, they put that look on, they roll their eyes, and then they say, 'Oh f — it, the I will use but nobody else loves or believes me.

"Then, curiously, someone listens to them and gives them an affirmation, there were tears in the program, it meant a lot to them, suddenly people listened, after all these years."

The medical history is full of discoveries made through people who underwent personal tests. Michael Mosley of the BBC Trust me, I'm a doctor Fame comes to mind, having swallowed the tapeworm in a search to investigate the benefits of parasites in the intestine. He hit the gold when, without realizing it, he created the 5: 2 diet, developed during the efforts to treat his type 2 diabetes.

The associate professors in immunology Ashraful Haque, Charlie Teo and the expert in women's health, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, are the panelists of Medicine or Myth.

The associate professors in immunology Ashraful Haque, Charlie Teo and the expert in women's health, Dr. Ginni Mansberg, are the panelists of Medicine or Myth.

Closer to home, Western Australian doctors Barry Marshall and Robin Warren received the Nobel Prize for their discovery that the ulcers were caused by bacteria. Marshall became infected with bacteria, which he treated with antibiotics to prove the point. Previously, patients with ulcers often had to undergo drastic surgery, even with the removal of their stomachs, to treat the disease.

Teo came to public attention when he appeared in Australian history in 2003. A pediatric brain surgeon, his work is controversial, and some argue that it gives false hope to terminally ill patients. He argues the opposite, which explains the risks and provides the people who would otherwise die with an opportunity.

"All I've done is do what any doctor should have done, when I operate on these inoperable tumors, I think everyone should do that." You should tell the patient: "Look, I'm not sure this is going to work, the books say you should not do it, everyone else tells you that you should not have surgery, but your child will die in the next few weeks, but if you're willing to try it, I'll do it. 39 ;. "

Medicine or myth? It's Teo's first television role. His presence lends credibility to the show and he saw it as an opportunity to allow people a voice; it underlines his thinking that sometimes it is worth considering the unorthodox. "I have always thought that the medical fraternity suffered from a closed mentality".

When Teo was a recorder of surgery at Sydney's Concorde Hospital, he also taught acupuncture and chiropracture. When word spread that he was doing it, the surgery chief told him to stop. There was no discussion that was had; It was an ultimatum. "I realized that they simply hated the fact that other people were invading their space."

Now, about 40 years later, Teo argues that the medical fraternity has not changed anything.

My answer was: how will we know if it works or not?

Last year he supported a clinical trial on cannabis and its effects on people with malignant brain tumors, along with standard medical treatment. The research explored whether it could improve patients' quality of life by reducing symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting.

"I thought my colleagues would be happy, thinking" Thank God you're doing something scientific. "Instead, I received anonymous phone calls that said I had to stop, how dare you think about cannabis?

These reactions were from everywhere, including oncologists and radiologists. "My answer was: how will we know if it works or not?"

Teo is aware that over time the change will come, but he is frustrated by what that means. "Then, eventually, yes, it will be accepted, but it takes too long, how many people have to die, how many people have to suffer?"

Produced by Warner Bros International, the eight-week series was filmed for five days, beginning at 5.30 am and ending at 10.30pm. As a brain surgeon in high demand, Teo has a pretty hellish schedule; To allow him to participate in the program, the shooting was organized around his availability.

"Yes, that was my vacation time!" he says with a laugh, admitting that he was exhausted when the shot ended.

Teo is optimistic about what the program has already achieved, with several of the alternative treatments that look promising.

"The good thing about the program is that I'm sure there are 100 times more remedies (as we've seen), all those remedies could contain answers to questions that we have no answers for at the moment."

Medicine or myth? will premiere on May 20 at 8:30 pm on SBS.

Kerrie is a senior entertainment writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald

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