Interview with Jessica Madge

What prompted you to write your first book, Your Intelligent Immune System?
A few years ago my son had treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma. As he was going through treatment I learned that this was a disease of the immune system. In order to get rid of his cancer he had his bone marrow stem cells harvested and frozen, his immune system wiped clean by chemotherapy and his own stem cells re-infused. This re-booted his immune system back into a healthy state. I discovered that there was no straightforward book that explained the immune system to patients and relatives. The research was a revelation and I am still in awe of the complex majesty of the immune system and full of admiration for the immunologists whose detailed work is beginning to bear fruit in fields as diverse as cancer therapy and malaria.
And what prompted you to write your new book about reflux and heartburn?
A couple of years ago I developed symptoms of reflux and quickly discovered how it can affect your quality of life. All the self help advice seemed to be about giving up a long list of enjoyable foods. My son pointed out that the problem was anatomical and that my knowledge of yoga could help me manage it.
Why are you so sceptical about alternative medicine?
My education was scientific. In school my favourite subject was Biology and I then went on to study Biology and Psychology in university. Psychology gave me a gold-plated training in the scientific method - how to design a good experiment, what statistics tell us and so on. When writing my first book I took a long hard look at claims that you could "boost" the immune system with vitamins, herbs and so on. It was clear to me that these claims lacked well-conducted scientific evidence to back them. It was also clear that alternative medicine has become big business with a great deal of misleading marketing involved, particularly on the Internet. Some of it exploits people who are terminally ill or those who cannot afford good medical treatment. As a psychologist I can see how people want to believe in a quick, almost magical fix for illnesses both major and minor. I guess it comes down to: I just hate it when vulnerable people are lied to.
What are you working on next?
I have a half written book on Your Intelligent Gut, or some such title. We tend to take the digestive system for granted, but it is truly amazing. I also have another idea, about the importance of exercise for older people.
Describe your desk
It has a big Apple computer, and another big screen. Otherwise, It's a mess. But if I turn around and look out of the window I can see the mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales, which are sometimes covered in snow.
What do you do when you're not writing?
Sometimes I work as a business psychologist, helping companies recruit the best people or work better in teams. I have recently moved to the beautiful island of Anglesey in North Wales. I try to walk every day and enjoy the ever-changing coastal views, weather and wildlife. It's a bilingual community here and I am learning to speak Welsh. I also belong to a choir and a local writers' group. I write poetry sometimes, just for pleasure and stories for my grandchildren.
What is your worst habit?
Spending too much time on social media or, when motivation is really lacking, playing solitaire. Also, I am told, I forget to put the tops back on jars and bottles in the kitchen.
Published 2014-12-16.
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Books by This Author

Reflux and Heartburn, the New Self-help
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,970. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: December 16, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / gastrointestinal
A fresh look at managing the symptoms of reflux and heartburn. Gastric reflux is not caused by too much acid or the wrong kind of food. It's a weakness at the top of the stomach. This down-to-earth book explains how to strengthen your body's anti-reflux barrier and reduce pressure on the stomach.
Your Intelligent Immune System
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 79,780. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: November 30, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » healthy living, Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / immune system
Many things claim to boost the immune system but do any of them really work? Are they based on solid evidence or are they a waste of money? If you have a weakened immune system, an allergy or an autoimmune disease this book will help you to understand how your immune system works and how you can help yourself.