As a general practitioner, Ellie Cannon is well used to patients bringing in their home remedies for her approval. Now the JC’s health columnist will be sharing her views with a much wider audience in a prime time Channel 4 series, Health Freaks, which launches on Monday night.
Along with fellow physicians Pixie McKenna and Ayan Panja, Dr Cannon will cast a trained eye over a variety of remedies.
In the opening episode, the panel interview people who recommend duct tape to cure verrucas; placing a necklace of amber beads on a baby to stop teething pain — and even a rubdown with WD-40 to soothe a sore chest.
Some “cures” are put to the test by resident scientists, with surprisingly positive results.
“It’s hilarious, so funny,” says the West Hampstead GP, who encountered 50 people pitching alternative treatments during the course of the series. “I mean the two guys who came in rubbing WD-40 into their chest...
“The producers wanted someone like me,” she adds. “A conventional doctor who is not afraid to say if something is too wacky. I’m interested in science. I can’t trust anything that isn’t backed up by it.”
Yet despite her scepticism about amber beads preventing pain or objection to using WD-40 as a chest remedy, Dr Cannon admits to having suggested some folklore treatments to patients.
“Ironically I’m the kind of person who will not always recommend taking prescribed medicine,” she says. “I believe coughs and colds will go away in time — and then recommend hot drinks and rest, which will often do the trick.
“When children come down with chicken pox, I recommend taking a bath with oats — it’s soft, harmless and reduces the itch. “And yes, I do mean oats like the porridge,” she reiterates after being asked for confirmation.
Naturally, Dr Cannon attests to the age-old healing power of chicken soup, stressing: “Of course I recommend chicken soup to my children — I’m a Jewish mother!
“I was disappointed that no one came to the show asking to try out chicken soup. I would have liked our show scientists to try it out and see if it works.”
Health Freaks starts on October 21 on Channel 4 at 8:30pm
Read Ellie Canon's column in this week's JC