Alternative medicine and alternative therapies are therapeutic practices, which are currently not considered as an integral part of conventional medicine. Conventional medicine is the current mainstream medical system of diagnosis and treatment of disease.
However, an increasing desire for wellness, in response to today’s stressful lifestyle and rising incidences of cancer, disease and illness, has led to the rising demand for alternative medicine and therapies. It is true that many people are becoming disenchanted with conventional medicine’s drugs and the approach to healing.
What is the difference between conventional medicine and alternative medicine? In general, conventional medicine tends to focus on the disease and employs techniques to treat it. It views the body as a war zone where battles against invading organisms are fought, and won or lost. It focuses more on techniques, technology, chemical reactions that can be measured, statistically proven and documented. Treatment is on the part of the body that is displaying the symptoms of the illness or disease.
On the other hand, alternative medicine tends to be “holistic”, where an individual’s health is considered as a whole and treatment not just focused on the symptoms. Alternative medicine employ “natural” methods to aid the healing powers of the body to return to a state of health. Treatment is holistic; that is it takes into account every aspect of a patient and not just on the health symptoms that he or she is experiencing.
Contrary to popular belief, alternative medicine has a history longer than conventional medicine. Much of alternative medicine is derived from ancient healing techniques. For instance, the use of herbs is practiced all over the world since a long time ago; whether in India as ayurvedic medicine, in China as traditional Chinese medicine or used as aromatherapy which can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times.
There are a full range of alternative medicine and complementary therapies. They include acupuncture, energy healing, hypnosis, flower essences therapy, EFT, homeopathy, etc – all aimed at restoring the body back to balance and thus helping an individual achieve total wellness.
It would seem that after the above explanations, alternative medicine is superior to conventional medicine. This will not be an accurate view for all health situations.
Conventional medicine, does in fact, have a place in health treatment. Conventional medical interventions such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and antibiotics do bring benefits. They can prevent death, pain and give hope to people to walk again, provide instant relief, and also, provide a new functioning organ in place of a diseased and ailing one.
Also, alternative practitioners do not condemn conventional medical practices altogether. Their belief is somewhat different, however. That these conventional medical interventions should not be the first choice of treatment, as it often is. The point is that most tend to seek natural or alternative medicine as the last resort. Seeking holistic treatment as a last ditch for health and life is not a very good idea as alternative medicine takes a long time to show positive healing benefits.
For the general public, I guess it is important to realize that there are more ways than one in the aspect of health. Fortunately, with the advent of the holistic health movement over the last two decades, a growing number of conventional doctors are now recognizing that health is more than the absence of disease.
Many more medical doctors practice “integrative” medicine, where they combine research-backed alternative medical treatments with the best of conventional allopathic medicine. This may just be the best way to go. The overall objective to aim in the environment of today and tomorrow is for a higher standard of health; in short, total wellness.
Evelyn Lim owns a health and wellness article directory site. Her site has a growing database of health articles on more than 100 topics such as alternative healing, disease and fitness. Check out