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OU on the BBC: Alternative Medicine - About The Series

Updated Friday, 13th January 2006

Kathy Sykes examines the claims of alternative medicine.

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Kathy Sykes Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

This series tells the story of a remarkable journey taken by scientist Kathy Sykes to uncover the truth behind the world’s most ancient medicines. She sets off to discover whether they really do work and - if so - how. It’s a journey that will challenge all our views of who we really are and how best to treat ourselves.

Kathy believes, like most of us, in the power of modern medicine. The benefits are obvious: we can all expect to live longer and healthier lives than ever before. So, why are people turning towards alternatives in increasing numbers? More than 10 million of us in the UK have tried some form of alternative medicine. And, globally, it’s a 60 billion dollar business.

The claims often made for alternative medicines are extraordinary. Many believe they are the most effective treatment for chronic diseases like Alzheimers, back pain and osteoarthritis. Some even propose them as frontline treatments for cancer and HIV.

So what’s the truth? Are alternative medicines really so effective? Do they really have a place alongside or even instead of conventional medicines? And, if they do, how on earth do they work?

In this series, Kathy sets out finally to answer these questions. With an open-minded, scientific spirit she examines the three most popular alternative medicines – acupuncture, healing, and herbs. She wants to know for herself whether a few needles, a handful of herbs or even a prayer can have such a dramatic effect on our health.

Her investigation takes her into the strange world of shamans, therapists, bizarre practices and ancient texts. She hears the most extraordinary claims from practitioners and patients. She forensically tests the claims for herself and, using ground-breaking scientific techniques, she conducts her own experiments to get the answers. This is the most authoritative and exhaustive investigation into alternative medicines ever conducted on television.

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