Q&A with Piers Gibbon: Snake Blood Remedy

Video highlights from The Witch Doctor Will See You Now

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dead chicken
What was it like to stay in that tiny apartment in Kowloon?

I did not expect Hong Kong to be cold! Cement floors made it chilly on the feet. And I only worked out how to get hot water on the last day. However it was the best status update ever on Facebook: "Spending Valentine's Day in an apartment usually rented out to prostitutes...alone."

Why did you stay in the Kowloon district and what was it like?

We chose the Sham Shui Po area in Kowloon to give us a chance to check out how normal people live.

What was the worst/most challenging thing that you had to do in Hong Kong?

I really did not like having needles poked into the flesh under my tongue.

What was the most enjoyable part of the trip for you?

Seeing someone else have needles poked into the flesh under their tongue.

What treatment and result surprised you most in Hong Kong?

Rapture had an amazing, and immediate result on his back/shoulder pain from tongue acupuncture.

Are you now a convert/believer in Chinese Traditional Medicine?

I've always been impressed by the whole system of CTM, and I'd really like to know more about how tongue acupuncture in particular actually works.

Do you think any of the positive treatment effects may have been due to the placebo effect?

This is always something I wonder about. It is impossible to completely eliminate the potential of placebo effect - especially in the context of a TV show. We had some positive and negative results on individual people, but I was always taught that "The plural of anecdote is not data."

It seemed like Rapture was in a lot of pain over some of the treatments - was he?

Yes! Especially the scraping and bonesetting.

Was this hard to watch?

No. Well, a bit. But he can handle it. Although I did wonder whether the bonesetting might snap his neck. That would have been difficult to explain to his biker gang.

What did snake blood and bile taste like?

Snake blood tastes forgettable but snake bile has a really interesting medicinal flavour - like a cough syrup. I have no idea whether it did me any good though.

What did the mouse wine taste like?

Mouse wine taste is OK but it smells horrid. I handled the dead baby mice, and my fingers smelled bad for three days.

What was your first response to tongue acupuncture?

I was just hoping that Rapture would get beyond the scary name and actually try it.

Did you or anyone else try tongue acupuncture?   Did it work on anyone else?

I tried it but it didn't have any effect on me as far as I can tell. It unfroze the cameraman's shoulder though - very impressive!

Would you like to go back to Hong Kong?

Yes, please. I bought a camera there - it's now broken and I need to get it repaired under warranty. Also, the people are lovely and I'd like to have more time seeing the sights. If I had a major medical problem I'd also like to try some of the treatments available. Especially if more research comes in about their effectiveness.

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