Esoteric Medicine: is it complementary or alternative medicine and what’s the difference?

by Eunice J Minford MBChB MA FRCS Ed, Consultant Surgeon, N Ireland

I used to think that complementary medicine and alternative medicine were the same thing. I have come across others who speak of them as one and the same thing as well. The words are used interchangeably by many, and both often get tied together in the abbreviation ‘CAM’ – to refer to all things complementary and alternative in the world of medicine.

I was also very dismissive of anything that was in any way alternative/complementary and basically anything that was not mainstream medicine, and which had not been verified scientifically as I understood it. I viewed them, as many medical doctors do, with contempt and considered them all to be a waste of time and potentially dangerous if they prevented people getting access to ‘real medicine’. I had heard stories of people refusing medical treatment and who insisted on the ‘alternative’ path – only to end up dead when their cancer was of course not cured by the ‘alternative’ treatment. So it would be fair to say I was pretty staunchly against anything that had the label of complementary or alternative, as to me they were all in the same bag!

At that time I was of course very much in the arrogance of the medical/scientific consciousness, which thinks that doctors and scientists are the only ones who understand the body, illness and disease and treatment, and that unless people have been through the rigors of a bona fide medical and scientific training, then they basically have no right to make any claims as to the workings of the body – even their own.

The fact that everyone has a body and therefore has the lived experiences of their own bodies and the things that affect them was irrelevant. Unless people are medically trained, they do not know how to interpret their own bodies – or so the thinking goes. Also included in this type of thinking is the desire to own knowledge – to be the ones that know – to be the ones that tell others how it is, what they can and cannot do, tied up with a belief about being special and of course super-intelligent. The arrogance and supremacy are very tangible, even obvious, in this form of thinking – and whilst it may be a common form of thinking, it is one that is deeply harming and defies who we are as human beings.

I was deeply immersed in this form of thinking, so I know it well! The ‘need to know’ can be never-ending, the desire to know more than another, to be superior, more intelligent, and to have the power that comes from being in possession of such knowledge that others do not have or know – all exists to cover up the deeply buried emptiness, insecurity and lack of true knowing. Yes, a good dose of ignorance goes into the mix with the arrogance and the supremacy.

So rather than take the time to find out what complementary and alternative medicine were, it was easier to just clump them together and arrogantly claim they were all unscientific, unproven rubbish at best, a waste of time and money, and even potentially dangerous and life threatening if they prevented people from accessing ‘real medicine’.


I have since taken the time to find out more about them and have significantly changed my views in the process with regards to complementary medicine. The crucial difference then between complementary and alternative medicine is in fact in the name – one is complementary to and supportive of conventional medicine and the other is alternative to it. In other words in alternative medicine, a client or patient refuses all other forms of conventional medical treatment and uses only ‘alternative’ forms of treatment. As a surgeon, I therefore do not personally support the ‘alternative medicine’ approach. It can be potentially dangerous to always avoid conventional medical treatment, and I am not an advocate for alternative medicine.

However, this is quite different to how I now understand complementary medicine – which is a form of medicine that works side by side with medicine and is in fact in no way alternative to it. It embraces conventional medicine and knows that the latter is well needed in the world today. So a true complementary medicine practitioner works hand in hand with conventional medicine and would never advise a client or patient to not see their doctor for a medical condition and is supportive of medical treatments.

A complementary medicine practitioner can help the patient to go deeper, in terms of evaluating their life choices and how those choices may have contributed to the illness or disease. They take a holistic perspective that understands that all aspects of an individual are important in both illness and disease manifestation and in healing. They can address the spheres of a person’s life that conventional medicine neither has the time nor the training to address, but which are crucially important to health and wellbeing, in particular issues pertaining to the spiritual and emotional domains of life. Whilst alternative medicine practitioners may say they do likewise, I do not support it due to its anti-medicine stance.

Esoteric Medicine is a form of complementary medicine (and is in no way alternative) – but in fact it is even more than that. It is a truly holistic form of medicine that is supportive of and works with conventional medicine (hence complementary) and it takes the WHOLE being into consideration. It is encompassing of all aspects of the human person – body, mind, heart, spirit and soul. It is an aspect of Universal Medicine – which is an even grander form of medicine that encompasses not just the whole of the person, but the whole of life as we know it esoterically and energetically – and that includes God, the whole of humanity, the whole planet, the whole Universe – nothing and no-one is left out when the fullness of Universal Medicine is understood.

Therefore esoteric medicine, whilst seemingly fitting in to the category of complementary medicine, is in fact much grander and broader. As a way into understanding Universal Medicine its potential is huge. It raises the bar further and brings understandings to the whole of medicine that in my opinion are well needed and currently unsurpassed by any other form of medicine.


ps – whilst we’re talking differences – did you know that there is a difference between complementary and complimentary?
Complementary(with an e) is what we use in referring to complementary medicine as described above, and as something that goes along with, or complements medicine, and can also be where two things combine in such a way that as to enhance or emphasise the qualities of the other – ‘the colour of your coat really complements or brings out the colour of your eyes.’  Whereas complimentary (with an i) is when we get given something for free e.g. tickets to an event.  It also refers to when someone pays us a compliment, expressing appreciation, praise, adoration etc and so may be very complimentary regarding our appearance e.g. ‘you are looking very beautiful today’.


930 thoughts on “Esoteric Medicine: is it complementary or alternative medicine and what’s the difference?

  1. I wonder if some (many?) medical professionals are uncomfortable with the idea that something that is not mainstream presents itself as complementary-to-medicine rather than alternative? Rejecting alternative modalities is relatively simple because medicine can fairly assume that it is the best that is available. However, with complementary-to-medicine approaches it would be more difficult to reject them, as medicine clearly does have gaps in its ability to keep us healthy, as the obesity epidemic shows as one example.

  2. Eunice it is always a delight to read your articles, and the simplicity in which you explain the difference between alternative and complementary medicine one tries to find its own answers and the latter works hand in hand with western medicine.

  3. Complementary medicine broadens and expands on conventional medicine, it not only looks at the illness but how we are living that may have caused it. It asks us to take responsibility for the part we have played and doesn’t put all the onus on the doctors to fix us. Conventional medicine is an important part of the healing but it is not the only part, conventional medicine and complementary medicine work together to deepen our understanding of illness.

  4. Esoteric Medicine is most definitely complementary medicine as it not only always supports clients to access the support of Western medicine but also taking responsibility for one’s own health so that it becomes a partnership with all working together for the best outcome.

  5. This is such a clear and very useful distinction between the two – the alternative medicine and the complementary medicine. In my experience, I don’t recall any so-called ‘complementary’ medicine that didn’t present itself as the alternative to the Western medicine until I came across Universal Medicine. Like many others, I felt the Western medicine was not the answer, and saying that I denied what it does actually offer as well. I also find that when we go for the alternative medicine, our attitude is pretty much the same as when we go to the Western medicine – i.e. asking for it to deliver/be the cure. What truly complements the Western medicine, and actually is a significant part of our healing process is us, and Universal Medicine amazingly supports us in that.

    1. Absolutely we need to take an active part in the healing process and maintaining any lifestyle changes that are required for true health.

    2. There are true complementary approaches that work with varying levels of success. One example is diets for cancer patients. Once they are successful they could then become part of mainstream medicine, which may be one reason that there aren’t many such examples at any one time.

  6. Eunice, I love the way you write – it’s intelligent, not just based on facts but on the simplicity of life.

  7. As a former homeopath I erred on the side of alternative medicine, despite training as a nurse formerly – a complete reaction against the system. Coming to Universal Medicine therapies I now understand and have used personally the amazing combination of both western medicine and the esoteric modalities – each complementing the other – true Medicine of the future.

  8. “It is encompassing of all aspects of the human person – body, mind, heart, spirit and soul. It is an aspect of Universal Medicine – which is an even grander form of medicine that encompasses not just the whole of the person, but the whole of life as we know it esoterically and energetically – and that includes God, the whole of humanity, the whole planet, the whole Universe – nothing and no-one is left out when the fullness of Universal Medicine is understood.”

    It is with the all that we will truly heal ourselves.

  9. There is an arrogance in both consciousnesses when we rigidly stick to one or the other. And I have been in both camps for a while. Working with the best of both western and esoteric Medicine is a powerful combination and brings a wholistic approach which neither can do alone.

  10. I read something that Serge Benhayon had written very recently and he was referring to the Esoteric Modalities and Esoteric Medicine and described them as “complementary-to medicine” in other words working along side medicine. The modalities and approaches to health do work alongside medicine very well for they support the person to feel the choices that they are making, that are not supporting their bodies and allows them the space to make much more supportive and loving choices, not because they are being told to ‘stop smoking or drinking for example, but because they can feel themselves that this is what is needed to support their own body. In other words it assists people in taking a greater level of responsibility for the choices they make and through this they are able to make new choices. Working in health care I can see how very needed this is to our current model of health care. We can no longer hand over responsibility to our health care practitioners to ‘fix us’. Our current model is clearly showing us this does not work. We all need to be playing our part and that includes when we are the patient.

  11. Complementary medicine is very different to alternative medicine, yet it often gets put in the same category and your explanation is very clear, there is definitely a place for complementary medicine when it complements conventional medicine.

  12. I used to be alternative and dismissed conventional medicine. It is no wonder that I had people around me dismissing me because of my anti-medicine stance. However, I have changed and become aware of the importance of conventional medicine. I have come to realise that we need both to truly heal and so embrace both the conventional and esoteric in my way of living for myself and family.

  13. Thank you Eunice, for clearly explaining the difference between alternative and complementary medicine, as it is important that these 2 are not put into the same basket. My health has improved immensely with the support of complementary and western medicine – the 2 combined are a recipe for true health in my experience.

  14. “The fact that everyone has a body and therefore has the lived experiences of their own bodies and the things that affect them” – I agree, this indeed is often overlooked. Our lived experience qualifies us as an authority of our own body and own life – how empowering it would be if we could be educated this way.

  15. Medicine has limitations – the strong emphasis on interventions, the fact that patients can be irresponsible without consequences (except those of their body), the high burnout rate among medical practitioners and would benefit if these issues were to be addressed.

  16. Esoteric medicine is complementary to western medicine in that it supports a patient or person to look beyond the symptom and accept responsibility for making changes for the overall benefit of their health.

  17. I never truly understood the difference between complementary and alternative medicine until I came across Universal Medicine and then I understood exactly what complementary medicine was, and how western medicine and complementary medicine through Universal Medicine go hand in hand.

  18. I love that complementary medicine considers the whole of us and not just parts. We are deeply connected beings and to ignore all the components promotes ignorance of how interconnected we are whilst denying us the opportunity for taking responsibility for the all.

  19. I am big on making sure we seek the support of mainstream medicine when we are ill. This does not mean we give our power away or give up when we are told that a disease is “life long” and that we “will have to live with the pain” or that we take everything a Doctor says as gospel. In saying that, there also needs to be a certain amount of respect towards western medicine and if there is any surgery or medication required, we need listen to the people that are trained and act fast. I do not agree with people being lead astray by alternative medicine with false promises that they can wish/manifest/positively think the cancer/tumour/disease away. I have been a client of Universal Medicine for the last 10 years and never have I been lead astray, in fact it has been quite the opposite experience, I am now more involved with my local GP, I am up to date with my vaccinations, breast checks, pap smears, blood test, dentist, physiotherapy, podiatry and I am a member of the local gym, in fact I have never been so on track medically. In addition to all this, I consult with my Naturopath, have regular massages and chakra puncture at Universal Medicine clinic so I can support my body and my mental health, having an hour to be able to talk with someone you trust about what is going on in your daily life is so important. So yes, complementary medicine and alternative medicine cannot be thrown in the same basket, I am glad you have clarified this and it means all the more coming from a qualified doctor that has obviously had a lot of life experience.

  20. So enormously important to have a clear distinction between what is complementary medicine which works together and in unison with conventional medical practices, and what is alternative to medicine which seems to be always in opposition to conventional medical practices. And in some cases I have observed how sometimes the alternative route can even promote itself as better, as more effective, as more natural. And while all of this may sound very promising, there can be no practice that has everything that a person needs, just like no one person can be perfect, we all need each other and what everyone brings is what makes the whole of human life what it is and this applies to everything, even the healing arts.

    1. I was once caught up in the belief that something was better because it was natural and I worked in healthcare. I also thought that this was complementary and that complementary was using natural medicines first and then pharmaceuticals second, until it was an acute or emergency condition. Now I understand that it is not a which one shall I use today, but modalities that walk along side one another. One supports the body in its functional capacity, the other supports our being, so we know there is more to us than our physical body. It supports our choices and how to take more responsibility within our own lives. Which ultimately affects the health of our body. Its a marriage of the two, a perfect partnership.

  21. ‘Unless people are medically trained, they do not know how to interpret their own bodies – or so the thinking goes.’ I have two GPs – one is a specialising GP – and both ask me what I think is going on when I present with a problem. It’s been such a rarity in my life to find a doctor who wants to know my opinion as part of their diagnostic mix, and now I’m blessed with two. I’ll know what to look for if/when I need the medical support of others professionals in the future.

  22. To the man in the street alternative or complementary may well be perceived as the same thing but they are like chalk and cheese. Alternative means instead of going to conventional medicine you skip that and try some therapy that works (or not as the case may be) in isolation to conventional medicine. Complementary medicine on the other hand recommends strongly that you go for conventional medicine and work with them first and then complementary medicine works in conjunction with that. Universal Medicine is 100% the latter.

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