health

"Earwax on cold sores and menstrual blood for anxiety": Medicine or Myth is eye-opening.

Most families all have that one quirky home remedy they swear is a fix for whatever ails them.

For some it’s a particular type of chicken soup to soothe a cold, for others it can be as odd or unconventional as sleeping with onions tucked into your socks at night to draw out a nasty infection.

SBS has kicked this idea up a notch with their new series Medicine or Myth?  A show which allows everyday Australian people the chance to pitch their diverse (and sometimes very divisive) health and home remedies to a panel of medical experts, all with the hope their idea will be selected for a real-world trial.

Making the judgement calls on pitches that include everything from maggot tea as a cure for acne, balsam leaves for ingrown toenails, and a Chinese herbal mix for endometriosis, are family and women’s health expert Dr Ginni Mansberg and Associate Professor in Immunology, Ashraful Haque with the panel being led by Australian neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo.

For Medicine or Myth? host Jan Fran, the allure of the series was the fact that it mixes elements of science and medicine with a very human angle, due to the fact that many of the people pitching their remedies have had them passed down through generations. Or turned to them when it appeared no other health option was available.

“The people on the show are everyday people who have these home remedies that have been passed down through their families,” Jan told Mamamia. “ A lot of people credit their mothers or their grandmothers for sharing these remedies through generations. It was something that they grew up with. And then you have people who have tried everything and then have stumbled across these natural remedies and now reckon they work.

“We have a team of experts on the show so the science elements are really covered, but not at all covered by me because I stopped doing science in Year Ten. If it’s good enough, then the home remedy goes to a clinical trial to see there’s any scientific basis to it.

“There are so many times when you think about things like lemon for flus and colds, as it being a bit of a remedy and what this show does is take that idea one step further.”

Associate Professor Ashraful Haque, Dr Charlie Teo and Dr Ginni Mansberg on Medicine or Myth Source: SBS.

While no remedy or idea was deemed too unconventional to appear on the series, Jan said that she was a little floored by some of the out-of-the-box cures and fixes that made it onto camera.

"A lot of the pitches were a bit out there for me," the TV presenter and podcast host said. "There was a woman who had garlic in her vagina to get rid of thrush, I really had some questions about that one.

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"There was a couple who used urine to cure some kind of eye infection,  I believe. There was also one pitch about putting raw meat on cuts, as a way of getting the cuts to heal quicker. So all these things are presented to you and my initial reaction is to raise a bit of an eyebrow and see how this goes down with the panel.

"There was one that was a sauerkraut face mask, which was just cabbage and water I think, and I remember meeting Beata who pitched that and she said it helped cure, or at least treat, her acne. And I thought to myself, 'there’s just no way that putting cabbage and water on your face could help' but that one ended up going to trial. All because the panel obviously saw something in her idea that piqued their interest enough to want to take that further.

"Watching the panel look at a pitch and say that there’s no scientific evidence to support it is interesting as well."

While she didn't pitch it to the panel for an expert opinion this time around, Jan said that her slightly-odd family home remedy all revolved around the humble potato.

"There was something my mum used to do, she still does it in fact, I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect but she uses boiled potato as a cure for diarrhoea of all things," she said.

"So it’s boiled potato, no salt on it, put it in water and let it boil to the point where you can cut it and take the skin off. Then you eat that and only that for a whole day. She would give us that anytime we had any kind of diarrhoea or indigestion issues. And to this day I don’t really know where she got that from, but I think from her mother. When it’s your mum doing that you just believe her.

"But please, don’t take this as medical advice. I don’t want anyone at home trying potatoes for diarrhoea."

The premiere episode of Medicine or Myth? includes everything from using seahorses for asthma to charcoal for stings and bites and a fever bath for colds and flu.

Be prepared to have your eyes opened to a whole new world of remedies or medicines, just be sure not to try any of this at home.

Medicine or Myth? premieres at 8.30pm tonight, Monday, May 20, on SBS.

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