Alternative Medical Courses

Chiropractic care is one of the most regulated forms of alternative medicine.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is typically defined as any kind of medical or healing practice run by someone who does not hold an MD (Doctor of Medicine degree) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy degree). This includes a broad range of healing practices such as herbal remedies, chiropractic care, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture. When alternative and traditional medicine are combined, it’s known as complementary medicine. Those with medical degrees may also practice alternative medicine, as is common with naturopathy.


Naturopathic medicine is founded on the idea that healing can happen through nature. Naturopathy is a broad concept and can include regular MDs who believe in taking more time to treat patients, pharmacists who look for alternatives to biochemical drugs and Eastern therapies. This branch of alternative medicine follows six principles defined by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges: trusting the healing powers of nature, treating the whole person, finding the underlying cause of symptoms, using the least harmful cures, teaching patients care for themselves and promoting wellness. You can take medical courses in naturopathy in a variety of specialties at several institutions, including the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, CT and Bastyr University in Seattle, WA.


According to the Society of Homeopaths, homeopathy is the practice of using highly diluted substances to help the body begin its natural healing process. This type of alternative medicine is practiced with the belief that small doses of remedies can be used to treat people. Doses may include Aresenicum Album, a heavy dilution of arsenic or artemisa cina, part of the daisy plant. A homeopath may be a medical doctor who chooses to work with homeopathic pharmacists. There are many schools available to aspiring homeopaths, including Bastyr University and Resonance School of Homeopathy in Reno.

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Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine, such as the idea that the human body has several key points. Typically used in pain management, acupuncture teaches that applying pressure or small punctures to these points can heal the body. You need a license to practice acupuncture, although obtaining one depends on meeting state requirements. You can take acupuncture courses at almost any alternative medical school. Such training covers the basics of becoming an acupuncture therapist, including pain management and putting a patient at ease. Doctors who wish to learn more about alternative medicine can take them, as well as those without medical training. The University of Bridgeport offers acupuncture courses at the master’s level, while schools like the New England School of Acupuncture in Newton, MA offer courses for those without prior medical knowledge. Expect to take courses in anatomy and biology when studying acupuncture. Students should have a bachelor’s degree with at least six credit hours in both biology and chemistry, in addition to general education requirements such as English, psychology and social studies, to take master’s level courses.


Chiropractic medicine is a highly recognized form of alternative medicine in the United States. Although you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to enter a chiropractic college as of March 2011, it is still recommended. Those who wish to enter the profession should have at least two years of biology, anatomy and chemistry courses. Chiropractors spend at least 4,200 hours in school, including practical experience in intern and externships, to obtain their degrees. Once finished, they can practice alone or with a group, provided they pass the National Board of Chiropractors Exam. Chiropractors help ease pain by examining and correctly aligning the spine. Accredited schools include the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, IL and Life Chiropractic College West in Hayward, CA.

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