To answer this question we should first analyze the performance of each medicine in the field and how they approach to the diseases.
✔️ Unlike the modern medicine which believes that physical diseases are basically caused by physical elements and reasons, in Islamic medicine the spiritual and physical diseases are merged together.
So they categorize the diseases into: physical diseases and spiritual diseases. Telling lies, back biting, insulting, etc are spiritual diseases which can affect the physical body as well.
✔️The second difference is in how they approach to the cause of diseases. The modem medicine generally looks for removing the symptoms and signs of a disease. If there is skin dryness they prescribe chemical lotions or different types of creams to make the skin soft. If you get flue, they give you a medicine to kill your pain or stop your nose running.
While in Islamic medicine they look for the inner cause of the disease. When you ask them about dry skins, they would tell you the inner cause of dry skin which is the liver. When you cure the liver you’ll have a soft skin or when you have headaches they first find out which of the 26 types of headaches you’re suffering from and then they give you a solution.
✔️The third difference is in medication. Modern medicine prescribes medicines as the first and the last solution, either it takes a day or the whole life, you should follow your dose and medicines.
While in Islamic medicine the first and second solution is changing your diet and your behavior. So you deal with your daily food and changing your behaviors rather than any medicine.
For example for thyroid patients, they recommend them to be away from stress and sadness. When you sleep with stress or sorrow, that is a cause of thyroid malfunction. Or for diabetes they recommend you to concentrate on your eating. No watching TV or thinking about other issues . When you eat, think and concentrate on your food and eat it peacefully.
Herbal medicine comes in the third stage and that’s a simple herbal medicine. The forth step is a dual herbal medicine which is the combination of two herbs, etc.
The medicines in Islamic medicine are healthy food, halal food, following correct eating habits, following the spiritual rituals and at the end if the disease still remained, they will prescribe herbs.
✔️The forth difference is in the side effects of the medicines. Nobody can claim that chemical medicines have no side effects. However nobody also claims that all herbals medicines are free from side effects.
But the difference is first of all in the amount of damage, (meaning that a herbal medicine has much lower side effects than the chemical medicines and also there are some herbs which have no side effects at all according to Ahlul Bayt such as Chicory vegetable, beetroot leaves,etc.) and secondly in reducing side effects.
In Islamic medicine, if you’re supposed to take a medicine which may give you a side effect after some time, they’ll give you a moderator which reduces the side effects of that herb or food. For example if somebody needs ginger to cure his flue, but at the same time his liver has high temperature and ginger can give him pimples or rashes, they add a bit of lemon to moderate the heat of the ginger and its side effects to that individual.
Aspirin is a sample of pharmacology companies’ games. When they prescribed it for millions of people and now after years they announce that it has plenty of side effects and damages the liver and kidneys.
While we have the equivalent of aspirin in the nature and that is Thyme herb which works perfectly with no side effects.
✔️The fifth difference is in the availability and cost of the medicines. Some chemical medicines are very expensive and they are not easily available.
While the herbal medicines are growing all over the world and they are cheap.
✔️The sixth difference is in the quantity of diseases which these medicines have solution and cure for them. Modern medicine literally is unable to cure plenty of diseases such as cancers, Hepatitis, diabetes, M.S, schizophrenia, Infertility, etc.
While all of them are cured in Islamic medicine perfectly and permanently.
✔️ And the main difference between Islamic and modern medicine is in their sources. Modern medicine is based on experience and research. They give an idea about a disease and they may change it the next year. That’s why when you look for the academic medicine reference books, you should check the latest published version since they change every year. While Islamic medicine is based on divine source and it’s all true and not changeable. As Imam Sadiq told to an Indian Tabib that: I have learnt all my knowledge from my fathers, and they had got it from the holy Prophet who was taught by Jibrail and he had obtained that knowledge from Allah (s.w).
✅ As a conclusion, it makes more sense to call the Islamic medicine the “Primary medicine” rather than alternative medicine as it is more complete, more healthy, cheaper, with more available medicines and it covers both spiritual and physical diseases, since all the elements of the universe even the rays of the moon and other planets are considered effective to human’s health.