Modern vs. Traditional or Alternative Medicine


The use of medicine is the key component that integrates all the fields of health. There has been a transition in managing health conditions from traditional medicine to the development of modern medicine. Alternative medicine has been used widely and comprises healing treatments that have not been integrated into modern medicine. Complementary medicine entails using conventional medicine in addition to non-mainstream practices. On the other hand, alternative medicine replaces traditional medicine with non-mainstream techniques. Modern medicine is the use of drugs and other medical devices in the care of patients. This essay will focus on the basic similarities and differences between alternative or traditional and modern medicine.

Traditional Medicine Versus Modern Medicine

According to Millstine (2018), the strength of evidence is one of the critical components separating alternative or traditional and modern medicine. Modern medicine is based on evidenced, conclusive scientific research, while alternative medicine is based on informed practices that are evidenced. The evidenced-informed methods in alternative medicine may not have reached scientific criteria for safety and efficacy. The use of alternative medicine, such as traditional herbal medicine, is determined by the patient’s experiences and characteristics. In contrast, modern medicine targets conventional medicine-diagnosed disorders or diseases.

Alternative medicine can pose a risk to the patient compared to modern medicine. This is because there is little scientific research on traditional medicine. For example, using Ayurvedic herbals prepared with contaminated heavy metals by some Chinese may damage the patient more than reasonably. Another example is traditional Chinese medicine known as TCM. It uses herbs such as garlic, ginseng, and ginkgo Biloba (Ostermeyer, 2021). Although it has been used for over 3,000 years, it is unsafe for some people.

The method of treatment in traditional and modern medicine is another critical difference. Modern medicine includes surgery, drugs, radiation, electrical remedy, physical therapy, nutrition, and medical devices (Kwon, 2018). This is in contrast to alternative or herbal medicine, which uses homeopathy, Ayurveda, acupuncture, oriental or Chinese medicine, body therapies, herb and diet, external energy such as Reiki, use of the mind as in meditation, and use of senses as in guided imagery and visualization (Hopkins, 2021). Medical doctors, pharmacists, physician assistants, registered nurses, and psychologists practice modern medicine, while traditional or alternative medicine is practiced by people seen as traditional healers. The traditional healers are independent and vastly unregulated.

In both alternative and modern medicine, the aim is for a patient’s welfare. Traditional medicine can treat a range of diseases, including allergies. A study on acupuncture and its effectiveness in children revealed that the therapy could curb postoperative and nausea induced by chemotherapy. Tai Chai therapy produced physical and psychological benefits for students as it improved balance, flexibility, and lung capacity. This is similar to modern medicine, which has led to managing various medical conditions and, eventually, the wellness of patients.

Alternative medicine, such as nutrition or diet therapy, has been shown to improve the health conditions of some patients suffering from chronic disorders. Deep breathing exercises have also been used to manage mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders (Kwon, 2018). There are some side effects in both modern and alternative medicine, especially herbs. Also, both types take a course of treatment of weeks or months, and follow-up is done.


To sum up, some people may opt for an alternative while others modern medicine. It is, however, important to discuss with the healthcare provider the type of medicine one opts for. There can be adverse effects when traditional medicine, such as herbs, interacts with modern medicine.


Johns Hopkins: Medicine. (2021). Types of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Kwon, J. (2018). Alternative medicine: An excellent alternative to the doctor? Public Health Advocate.

Millstine, D. (2018). Overview of integrative, complementary, and alternative medicine. MSD Manual: Professional version.

Ostermeyer, K. (2021). Pros and cons of alternative medicine, modern medicine, and traditional medicine. Elite learning.

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