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Alternative Therapies: Why did Kathy get involved?

Updated Monday, 17th March 2008

Not every scientist would be keen to appear in a programme about Alternative Therapies. So why did Kathy get involved?

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Not every scientist would want to do a series about alternative medicine and, you know, we did a series before, and I got some flak from some scientists. So that wouldn't necessarily make you feel like rushing back to do another series. But I'm doing these programmes because I think this subject really matters. It's our health and our contentment, it's profound, it affects everybody.

And I think there's a real issue, because we have kind of conventional medicine and then we have alternative or complementary medicine, and in the extremes of both of those camps it's really polarised. And there are some alternative medics who just say science, nonsense, you shouldn't even be trying to study us. And some scientists who say we shouldn't even be wasting our time with CAMs, we should be doing our serious stuff. And there isn't so much great science being done on alternatives, and unless we get the evidence they won't be incorporated.

And some of the stuff in alternatives, some of it is very likely to be nonsense, just because something's ancient doesn't mean it works. On the other hand, there is bound to be some incredibly valuable things in the alternative/ complementary camp. And it's madness for conventional medicine not to be incorporating that and using it. And there aren't so many places where people try to explore the grey territory between those two. And I think it really matters. It affects our health, our happiness, our approach to illness, our approach to ourselves, our spirituality, everything. So it's important.

My role in these programmes really is to be a scientist, which I am; to want evidence, and the kind of evidence that a scientist needs, and yet to have an open mind, and scientists should have open minds, that's the whole point about science, you're prepared to drop your theories if some other kind of evidence comes along.

So we should be open-minded, but we still need evidence that's robust for us. And my journey is to explore alternatives, alternative therapies or medicines, and try to find out what can I take away - as a scientist and also as a human being - from these experiences.

And I'd never tried alternative therapies before - well, I go for massages because I love them, but I'd never seen that as an alternative medicine or alternative therapy, it just was something that felt great. So I'd never really tried anything, and I wouldn't have done so because I'm a scientist, I want evidence, and conventional medicine, I'd always thought, was something that would satisfy what I needed.

And I suppose the point of the journeys is I'm finding out where alternatives/ complementary medicines might play a role.

 

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