Alternative Medicine as a Career

We are living in the age of modern medicine where there are solutions for all problems and issues of the human body. Allopathic medicine offers tablets for various human ailments like stomach pain, headache, diabetes etc. 

Many people are unaware of the side effects of such medicines, but those who are aware are seeking ‘Alternative Medicine’ to solve health issues. Alternative Medicine uses physical therapies like acupressure for solving health problems.


What is Alternative Medicine?

‘Alternative’, ‘new-age’ or ‘pseudo’ medicine as a medical field is not biologically plausible and cannot be proved beneficial. This field is not backed by medical research and is untested. Alternative medicine can be referred to as holistic medicine, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or integrated/integrative medicine (IM). ParamedicsAlternative treatments based on pseudoscience are techniques that are applied beyond their intended scope and lack required scientific proof.


What Do Alternative Medicine Doctors Do?

Doctors operating in the field of alternative medicine are called Naturopathic Physicians. These doctors use a mix of traditional and modern practices, holistic therapies and preventive strategies. They provide natural treatments, give prescriptions and conduct simple surgeries but rarely do they perform complex procedures. A doctor practising holistic medicine can specialise in herbology and homeopathy as well. These doctors treat allergies, digestion issues, chronic pain, cancer, etc. Patients of all ages can reach them through health centres, private clinics and hospitals.


Roles and Responsibilities

Common roles and tasks of alternative medical practitioners are:

  • They maintain patient appointments, records and medical history.
  • They primarily emphasize on promoting overall wellness and healing the human energy system.
  • They prescribe natural herbs, vitamins, amino acids, botanical extracts, etc., and also give medical guidance related to exercise and nutrition.
  • They use natural practices like Ayurveda, Homoeopathy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Educational Qualifications and List of Alternative Medicine Courses

Degrees in alternative medicine vary as per the education levels. Students can pursue the following courses in alternative medicine at different education levels.

Bachelor Courses:

  • Alternative Medicine
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicinal Science
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine)
  • BUMS
  • Health Science (BHSc) 
  • Reiki Healing
  • Chiropractic
  • Reflexology
  • BHMS
  • BNYS, Diet Therapy


Masters Courses:

  • Master of Naturopathy and Yoga Science
  • Master of Yoga Therapy


Diploma Courses:

  • Ayurvedic Pharmacy
  • Yoga therapy
  • Acupuncture 
  • Aroma Therapy
  • Naturopathy.
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage therapy
  • Pharmacy
  • Homeopathy
  • Acupressure


Advance Courses:

  • MSc in Herbal Medicinal Science
  • MD in Homeopathy
  • MD Ayurveda
  • Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine


Doctorate Courses:

  • Holistic medicine
  • Naturopathy
  • Philosophy in Alternative Medicine


Types of Alternative Medicine 

Alternative or complementary medicines are of the following types:

Whole Medical Systems

Inclusive systems with definite explanations for diagnosis, disease and treatment are called whole medical systems. Examples of such systems are: 

  • Traditional Chinese medicine
  • Homeopathy
  • Naturopathy
  • Ayurveda


Mind-Body Medicine

Hormones, immune linkages and neurons operate throughout the body and affect health through emotional and mental variables. Mind-body medicine combines social, psychological, spiritual and behavioural strategies for health preservation, disease prevention and cure. This also leads to improvement of the mind’s influence on the body.


Here natural chemicals are used for improving health. Biologically based methods include:

  • Diet therapies
  • Botanical medicines and natural products
  • Chelation therapy


Manipulative and Body-Based Practices

These techniques and practices are based on the notion that the body (bones, tissues and joints) are interconnected. Here the main focus is on the body mechanism and structure. The following practices are included here:

  • Massage
  • Gua sha massage (coining, scraping, spooning)
  • Reflexology
  • Chiropractic
  • Moxibustion
  • Cupping


Energy Medicine

Energy medicine is based on the idea that there is a subtle energy or a universal life force (Qi) around us. This field aims at working with these subtle energy fields or biofields that are believed to be surrounding the body. This medicine field is being researched for a deeper understanding. Different treatments under energy practices are: 

  • Magnets
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic touch
  • Acupuncture


Eligibility Criteria

Although the universities and colleges have specific eligibility criteria for various courses in alternative medicine, the following general criteria should be met by the aspirants: 

  • For a bachelor’s degree, the candidate should be from science (Physics, Chemistry or Biology) background with a minimum of 50% marks in class 12th examinations.
  • For pursuing a master’s course the candidate should possess distinction scores in the concerned field.


Top World Universities  

Following are best colleges and universities in the world that offer courses in alternative medicine:

  • London Metropolitan University, UK
  • Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
  • MacEwan University, Canada
  • American College of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, US
  • University of Westminster, UK
  • Bastyr University, US
  • Lincoln College, US
  • Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
  • The University of Sydney, Australia


Top Institutes in India

Following are best colleges and universities in India that offer courses in alternative medicine:

  • Acupressure Health Mart New Delhi
  • Bodytree Trust India
  • BAYC, Patna
  • SVIM Uttarakhand
  • Delhi Degree College
  • NCHS Punjab
  • Holy Angels College of Alternative Medicines Mumbai
  • IAMR Kolkata


Career Prospects

Students of Alternative Medicine have many career options post completion of their degree or diploma. They can work in clinics, government or private hospitals, wellness and community centres, research-based institutes, start their own practice etc. Popular job profiles for alternative medicine are:

  • Yoga Therapist
  • Lifestyle counsellor
  • Homeopathic Doctor
  • Acupuncturists
  • Osteopathic Physicians
  • Naturopathic Physicians
  • Chiropractors
  • Reiki Healer
  • Masseuses
  • Aromatherapist
  • Dieticians and Nutritionists
  • Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner
  • Herbalist
  • Hypnotists



Following table summarises the salary for major alternative medicine career profiles:



Annual Salary (approx.)


9-10 lakhs


4-4.5 lakhs


2.5-3 lakhs

Lifestyle Counselor

4 lakhs

Massage Therapist

2-2.5 lakhs