Conventional/Non-Conventional Medicine

Healthcare systems

There are a variety of treatments and therapies available, but under which healthcare system would each one belong? Well, some healthcare professionals will see medicine as being either conventional or non-conventional.

Conventional medicine in the West would be the mainstream type i.e. in the UK via local healthcare trusts operated by the NHS or private healthcare providers such as BUPA. Non-conventional medicine would be seen as anything that falls outside of the conventional.

However, this simple explanation doesn’t show the full picture. To understand what each healthcare system provides, let’s define all the different terms:

Conventional Medicine

We’ve already touched on the term “conventional medicine” but what exactly does it refer to? Sometimes called “mainstream medicine” or “western medicine” this healthcare system is practised by people who have been medically trained and gained professional medical qualifications.

Professions within conventional medicine include:


Conventional medicine typically uses drugs, surgery and physical manipulation for treatment and has developed using the philosophy that the body is composed of individual parts – by studying and isolating those parts on their own you can understand the body as a whole.

Interestingly, some of the professions that are now considered “mainstream” were once seen as non-conventional forms of treatment. For instance, Physiotherapy, Osteopathy and Chiropractic only gained recognition and validation in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Non-conventional medicine

Defining what is non-conventional in medicine will depend upon your outlook on healthcare in the first place and also your geographic location and culture. Within Eastern cultures and societies, healthcare systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine are seen as conventional because they’ve been used extensively for centuries and continue to be used alongside western medicine.

In Western culture, practices and therapies that fall outside of the conventional are seen as non-conventional but that does not mean to say they should be dismissed.

If you use the term ‘non-conventional’ to describe therapies such as Acupuncture, Homeopathy, NLP or hypnotherapy, you may also have seen them grouped under terms such as alternative medicine, complementary therapy, holistic health etc. In the next section, we’ll look at the definitions of these terms and the therapies that fall within them.

Healthcare definitions >>

Do not copy from this page - plagiarism will be detected by Copyscape. If you want to use our content click here for syndication criteria