What Are the Main Differences Between Alternative Medicine and Conventional Medicine?

While conventional medicines are quite safer as these are recommended by the physicians and doctors, alternative medications are much effective. Have a look at some more difference between the two.

What Are the Main Differences Between Alternative Medicine and Conventional Medicine?

According to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, “Alterative or holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses care of the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and complementary therapies to promote optimal health and to prevent and treat disease by mitigating causes.”

Both the two techniques of medicines differ greatly with one another.

  1. Philosophy
    While alternative medicines are based on the integration of allopathic (MD), naturopathic (ND), osteopathic (DO), energy, and ethno-medicine, conventional medicines are purely based on the allopathy.
  2. Primary Objective of Care
    The primary objective of Care in case of alternative medicines is to promote optimal health and to prevent and treat disease. Whereas the primary objective of conventional medicines is to cure or mitigate diseases.
  3. Method of Care
    Empowering the patients to heal themselves by addressing the causes of their disease and facilitating lifestyle changes through health promotion is the primary method of care for alternative medicines. However, the conventional medicines focus on the elimination of physical symptoms.
  4. Diagnosis
    In case of the diagnosis with alternative medicines, evaluating the whole person through holistic medical history, holistic health score sheet, physical exam, lab data is the diagnosis method.

    In case of conventional medicines, evaluating the body with history, physical exam and lab data is the method for diagnosis.

  5. Primary Care Treatment Options
    To treat with alternative medicines, love is applied to body, mind, and spirit in the form of proper diet, regular exercise, safe environmental measures, attitudinal and behavioral modifications, relationship and spiritual counseling, and bioenergy enhancement.
    In case of conventional medicines, drugs and surgery are the prime treatment options.
  6. Secondary Care and Treatment Options
    For the secondary treatment options in case of Alternative medicines, botanical (herbal) medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, manual medicine, bio-molecular therapies, physical therapy, drugs, and surgery play important role.
    In case of conventional medicines, diet, exercise, physical therapy, and stress management are the secondary treatment options.
  7. Weaknesses
    Among the weaknesses or disadvantages of alternative medicines, it lacks in the availability of holistic physicians and training programs. Also it is time-intensive and requires a commitment to a healing process. While the method is effective, these do not offer a quick-fix.
    When it comes to conventional medicines, these are very expensive. The second major disadvantage of these medicines is these are ineffective or sometimes fail in curing chronic diseases.
  8. Strengths
    The advantage of using holistic medicinal approach is that it teaches the patients to take responsibility for their own health because these involve treating overall emotional, physical and mental ailments altogether. These are very cost-effective in treating both acute and chronic illness. In addition, alternative medicines are therapeutic in preventing and treating chronic disease and are essential in creating optimal health.
    In case of conventional medicines, the major advantage is that these are highly therapeutic in treating both acute and life-threatening illness and injuries.


The conventional and holistic definitions of health greatly differ in regard to the diagnosis and treatment of illness. People opt for the type they feel comfortable and effective for themselves.

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