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Recently, I was channel surfing when a programme with a beautifully made-up host clad in astylish attire caught my attention. I thought it was one of those ‘fashion’ related shows, until the camera zoomed in on the guest, who turned out to be a well-known medical professional.

The ‘model’ asked him technical questions about medicine. But every time the doctor tried to answer, she interrupted him with her own pearls of wisdom. The doctor’s annoyance was obvious and justified. I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t grace the show with his presence next time around.

As far as health shows go, it seems that all of a sudden, there are many of them on television. I watch them regularly, primarily to stay updated with my profession. I have found that there are some shows that are truly very informative and accurate, while some are plain nonsensical. On these shows, ‘healers’, who are oh-so-popular, project themselves to be experts in medicine. Their advice usually defies all logic; one of them actually told a caller that her ailment would be cured if she wore five chicken legs around her neck!

And then there are the naturalists… their advice inevitably involves a basket of jaari booties and a pestle and mortar, which has got to be the most inconvenient thing in this day and age. A popular nuska for healthy hair that is aired frequently involves applying a mixture of egg yolk, oil and yoghurt and sitting in the sun. I wonder if it does any good or just succeeds in attracting swarms of flies.

Ultimately, the lesson here is that if you do watch health shows, identify the credible ones and disregard the others. And remember you need to use discretion when following medical advice given on TV. If you are suffering from an ailment, please visit a doctor. Do not rely on advice aired on television.

Be equally careful using TV experts’ beauty tips. But that is a ramble for another day!

– Dr Adnan Khan
The writer is Coordinator, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 10, 2012.