There really isn’t a brief definition of “alternative medicine.”
Alternative medicine is a broad term that is basically used to describe any health care that does not involve the use of prescription drugs ordered by, or surgery performed by a doctor with a degree in conventional medicine — that is, a degree from a recognized medical school.
The Western medicine establishment historically has dismissed all forms of alternative medicine as ineffective. There is no distinction made between, say, a chiropractor and a witch doctor or between a herbalist’s recommendations for herbal medicines and Granny’s home remedies.
Very few medical doctors will tell a patient with a backache to see a chiropractor. The medical doctor will prescribe pain medication and refer the patient to another medical doctor who specializes in bone and joint disorders and surgeries (an orthopedist), but sending a patient to a chiropractor who could actually make the back pain go away without the use of drugs, or surgery just isn’t going to happen — or it isn’t going to happen very often. A few medical doctors do recognize the value of alternative medicine, but not many.
The knowledge gained through the practice of alternative medicine over several centuries is what Western medicine is based on. Somebody didn’t come along and invent modern Western medicine one day. No, Western medicine EVOLVED. The prescription drugs that doctors write prescriptions for today are synthetic versions of herbal medicines that have been used for 5,000 years by people without degrees from medical schools.
Chiropractors, herbalists, acupuncturists, aroma therapists, and hypnotists are all considered to be practicing “alternative medicine.” Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years is also considered alternative medicine.
Don’t be fooled by the term. “Alternative medicine” is simply any practice designed to improve health that ISN’T conventional Western medicine.