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Journey To The West with Sibyl & Zoe Coldham (EP#218)

Sibyl and Zoe Coldham join Mason on the show today, to share about their documentary, Journey To The West, an award-winning film that follows the journey of Chinese medicine into Western culture, exploring the roots of the profession, and the many obstacles it has faced, especially within the realm of consciousness held by mainstream medicine and allopathic thought. 

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Sibyl and Zoe Coldham join Mason on the show today, to share about their documentary, Journey To The West, an award-winning film that follows the journey of Chinese medicine into Western culture, exploring the roots of the profession, and the many obstacles it has faced, especially within the realm of consciousness held by mainstream medicine and allopathic thought. 

Journey to the West
 navigates between an in-depth exploration of Chinese medicine's struggle for legitimacy and a serene unveiling of Chinese medical philosophy. Weaving historical and contemporary plot lines, to reveal the intricacies of a profession that seeks acceptance and understanding by the Western medical model at large.

Throughout the podcast Sibyl and Zoe speak passionately from the heart, discussing the film's inception, creative process and their overarching intention; to tell the story of Chinese medicine in a way that is accessible to a wide audience.

The women express that limitations in the Western education system, including the curriculum often offered, stand as great obstacles to the continuing legacy and authentic practice of the craft. Highlighting that the methodologies of the scientific model, particularly the placebo effect as applied to acupuncture, should never get in the way of the actual medicine.

They go to share why energetic medicine can not be accurately measured in the same way as a pharmaceutical drug, where the placebo is a dead entity, and results against an active constituent will never compare.

Western medicine's political terrain is also covered, particularly within the context of the UK's National Health Scheme, who's views on Chinese medicine differ greatly from those here in Australia. An aspect of the conversation that allows us to understand the influence of social ideology on the integration of Chinese medicine and acupuncture into mainstream systems of healthcare at large. 

The duo emphasise the importance of understanding the philosophy and principles of Chinese medicine and the need for practitioners to continue their work with patience and perseverance.

An illuminating chat today, offering many thought provoking concepts for us all to marinate on.

Dive in and enjoy.

Image of rural China.

"Some of these problems for the Western medicine are so great that they're going to have to come to be more open to Chinese medicine, because the kind of things Chinese medicine works really well with just happen to be almost exactly the same as the things that the Western medicine and the NHS is struggling with".
- Sibyl Coldham

Sibyl, Zoe & Mason discuss:

  • The challenges Chinese medicine faces in the West.
  • The scientific model and its limitations when applied to Chinese medicine.
  • Where Chinese medicine fits within an allopathic system.
  • Why Chinese medicine can't change to appease the limitations of the education system. 


Who is Sibyl Coldham?

Writer and producer, Sibyl Coldham, has worked in Chinese Medicine education since the ‘80s as educational developer at the London School of Acupuncture. Sibyl then joined the course team for the Practitioner Development programme when the London School of Acupuncture joined the University of Westminster. In 2005, Sibyl moved back into educational development as director of the University’s Centre for Professional Learning Development, working for better outcomes for students through practice-based and inclusive learning across the University. Since 2015, Sibyl has been director and then chair of The TCM Development Trust, which was set up by the London School of Acupuncture to support Chinese Medicine education and research. With the closure of the Westminster course in 2019, Sibyl led a change in direction for the Trust to promote the public understanding of Chinese Medicine, which directly led to the funding of this film.

Who is Zoe Coldham?

Zoe Coldham is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and portrait photographer. Zoe graduated with a Bsa of Film and Television from Swinburne University. Zoe's first short documentary, Charlotte, won Best Documentary at an Academy Awards qualifying event, The St Kilda Film Festival. In 2018, Zoe worked as a cinematographer on two feature length documentaries which went on to premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Zoe's passion lies in exploring untold stories and creating acceptance through education and understanding.


Resource guide
Film Links
Journey To The West Website
Journey To The West Instagram

Related Podcasts
The Body Electric and Chinese Medicine with Dr. Daniel Keown (EP#150)

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