Let’s not beat around the bush – homeopathy and alternative medicine is really stupid. We can’t even bring ourselves to write a facetious opening paragraph about how TOTB once “cured a fungal foot infection by sleeping on a pillow filled with crystals and bathing it in marmalade.”
So the idea of a show dedicated to looking into the home remedies of ordinary people sounds, on the face of it at least, a ridiculous exercise.
Health Freaks (Mondays, 8.30p.m., Channel 4) features a panel of GPs (including Embarrassing Bodies’ Dr Pixie McKenna) and members of the public who are attempting to convince the doctors of the merits of their home remedies – which they then vote on to decide whether they are going to put them to trial.
The show kicks off with two builders who are convinced that WD40 is capable of curing both arthritis and smoker’s cough. They both swear by it, but they are treated with understandable incredulity from the three doctors and shown the door. It’s kind of like Dragon’s Den – except with glass stairs instead of a lift, alternative medicine instead of business propositions and absolute fucking lunatics instead of entrepreneurs.
The show follows a similar format to that of the BBC reality show too, with the main featured participants separated by short montages of other unsuccessful entrants, including a man who believes singing can ease his snoring, and a guy who thinks his garlic sandwiches can cure impotence.
Now if anything is going to give a man impotence it would be the thought of having children with the squeamishly earnest mother-of-two who thinks that an amber-bead necklace tied around a baby’s ankle can ease teething pain. You’d think that her claims would be treated with the same condescendingly raised eyebrow that the blokes slathering themselves in WD40 were, except much the opposite, with Dr Pixie declaring that she “loves this”, as she is currently going through the same thing with her own newborn.
Ultimately though, the GPs don’t put the “remedy” through for trial due to the safety concerns over a child choking on one of the beads (rather than it being absolute horseshit), although frankly the biggest danger to her kids is choking on their mother’s overwhelming smugness.
That’s not to say that Health Freaks is completely without merit, and there are brief moments of interest when they look deeper into the science of certain ailments, but it is very brief.
The home remedy that was eventually sent through for trial was duct tape for verrucas, which was actually shown to have some truth to it, with 100% of the subjects showing at least a 1mm reduction in size. It was a result that moved Dr Ellie Cannon to declare that she was going to recommend the treatment to her own patients.
It’s a remedy that we’re going to use on our eyes and ears the next time Health Freaks is on.