November 30, 2004

Vital: The Tropical Pain Forest ; It May Be the Ticket to a Second Chance at Fame and Fortune, but Willthe Price Be Too High?

THE brave personalities spending two weeks in the Australian bush on reality TV show, I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here, are making the most of their renewed fame.

But while they milk the attention, their bodies are certainly paying the price.

From the cold, damp environment, to the stomach-churning Bush Tucker Trials, the shock of swapping a privileged, pampered life for basic rations in a jungle hellhole, is taking its toll.

There have been screaming arguments, tears and two contestants have already walked out.

GP Dr Craig Lennox looks at the effect two weeks in the hostile environment will have on the attention-seeking stars.

'I'm a Celebrity is more about psychological games than physical challenges,' he said. 'There's even the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.'


THE temperature at the camp has been up to a sweltering 35 O C during the day.The humidity puts the competitors at risk of heat exhaustion.

This feels like bad flu with weakness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps and a lot of irritability.

At night the campers are subjected to temperatures as low as 12 O C and, if soaked after heavy rain, this makes for a chilly night. Expect them to cuddle up close.


NO, not the other contestants. But the diverse wildlife that inhabits eastern Australia.

Animal visitors to the camp could include frogs, tree snakes, water rats, monitor lizards and large fruit bats.

The contestants' heads will no doubt have been filled with tales of the highly venomous Taipan Snake and deadly Funnel Spider. Even the harmless Giant Carpet Python will give them the fright of their life if its 15ft length slides past.

Scantily-clad celebs had best be aware of the dangers of the foliage. Brushing against some jungle plants will bring up an agonising red rash.


CAMPING during cold nights and in uncomfortable surroundings will take its toll on the bodies and minds of the stars.

As well as physical problems like stiff muscles and joints in the mornings the contestants are likely to suffer insomnia.

The unpleasant conditions, strange night-time noises of the bush and stresses of the day will lead to sleepless nights.

Natalie displayed symptoms of sleep deprivation early on. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, memory loss, reduced mental abilities causing mistakes and, of course, fatigue.


ALMOST every aspect of the show is stressful to the participants.

They are dropped from a plane into the jungle to live shoulder- to-shoulder with their rivals. The Bush Tucker Trials are horrible and the contestants wait in suspense for the outcome of the voting.

Stress will have physical and emotional effects on the stars. Some may react well to the pressure and rise to the challenges.

Others will respond negatively and suffer low moods, feelings of distrust, rejection and anger, and even depression.

The physical effects of acute stress include headaches, upset stomachs, raised blood pressure and body tremors.

Stressed stars may be driven to petty arguments, making careless mistakes, avoiding their responsibilities and losing control.


THE I'm a Celebrity diet the campers are provided with is based on rice and plenty of fresh water.

Although they are unlikely to come to any harm from the lack of food over the next week, hunger will add to their psychological problems. Expect to see weakness, frustration and stomach trouble caused by the change in diet.

Pressure from camp mates to win food tokens will add to the stress of the trials.


THE celebs are frequently forced to taste, chew and swallow peculiar foods. Brian's House of Pies trial last Wednesday was particularly gruesome. His maggots and flies meal was certainly high in protein.

Expect to see stars snacking on the Witchety grub, which is more than two inches long and tastes of almonds. One survival manual claims 10 a day provide a balanced diet. Ants and termites could also beon the menu, so you will witness more tantrums,retching and spitting.

Despite the celebs' reactions, the Bush Tucker diet is safe and nutritious. Eating it could mean the difference between life and death for someone genuinely stranded in the Australian jungle.


WILL the celebs suffer after-effects from their fortnight in the jungle?

They will all be subjected to disturbing experiences in the Bush Tucker Trials.

They may find it hard to re-adjust to their celebrity lifestyles when they return home.

Perhaps the disgusting, revolting and scary stunts will cause the jungle goers a few nightmares and the odd scary flashback over a champagne cocktail.