To answer this question we should first analyze the performance of various treatments in alternative medicine and how they address diseases.
✔️ Unlike modern medicine, where diseases are simply catagorized into 2 types: 1. physical and 2. spiritual, in Islamic medicine, spiritual and physical diseases are intertlinked. For example telling lies, backbiting, insulting, etc. are spiritual diseases that can affect the physical body as well by increasing the amount of bad sauda in the body.
✔️The second difference is how modern medicine approaches the cause of diseases. Modern medicine generally works to remove the signs and symptoms of a disease. For example, dry skin is treated with chemical lotions and the like to soften the skin; or for the flu, medicines to kill pain or stop the nose running are prescribed.
In contrast, Islamic medicine seeks to identify and treat the root cause of the disease. For example, when addressing an ailment such as dry skin, an Islamic Medicine practitioner would tell you that the root cause of dry skin is a compromised liver. When the liver is treated, the result is soft and healthy skin. Another example is how when a person is suffering from headaches, an Islamic Medicine practitioner would first determine which of the 26 different types of headaches a patient is suffering from and then provide a solution.
✔️The third difference is in medication. Modern medicine prescribes medicines as the first and the last solution. The prescribed medicine could be required for a day or the rest of a person’s life.
However, in Islamic Medicine the primary and base solution is changing the diet and behavior before any medicine is even considered.
For example, thyroid patients are advised to be away from stress and sadness. Sleeping with stress or sorrow is a cause of thyroid malfunction. Another example is a diabetes patient; he/she is advised to focus well on their meal when eating as opposed to watching TV or thinking about other issues. Focusing on your food and eating in peace actually impacts the absorption and affect of that food on your body significantly.
Herbal medicine is introduced in the third stage through the prescription of a single herb. In the forth stage, a combination of two herbs are prescribed and this pattern can continue.
? The true cures in Islamic Medicine are healthy foods, halal foods, following correct eating habits, following spiritual rituals etc. Herbs are only prescribed if the disease still remains at the end of this.
✔️The forth difference is in the side effects caused by medications. No one can claim that chemical medicines have no side effects, in the same way that no one claims that all herbal medicines are free from side effects either.
But the difference is first of all in the level of potential harm. This means that:
1? there is much less chance of a herbal medicine causing side effects than the chemical medicines.
2?The depth of the potential harm is also less.
3?There are some herbs that have no side effects at all according to Ahlul Bayt a.s. such as, Chicory, beetroot leaves, etc.
? In Islamic medicine, if you are prescibed a medication that may cause side affects after some time, the hakim will place it with a moderator that reduces the side effects of the herb or food recommended. For example if someone needs ginger to cure his/her flu, but he/she also has a hot liver at the same time, ginger can give him pimples or rashes. In such a case, the hakim would add a bit of lemon to moderate the heat of the ginger and its potential side effects.
? Aspirin is a good example to reflect how we are cheated by pharmaceutical companies. It is not uncommon for these companies to prescribe medications for millions of people and then announce the list of side-effects such as liver and kidney damage.
What is most sad, is that we have perfectly fitting herbs within nature that are equivalent to ones such as aspirin. However, they are not known about due to the publicity that generally comes with chemicals prescribed by commercial companies. One example of herbal equivalents to conventional medications is Thyme. It works just like aspirin but with no side effects.
✔️The sixth difference is in the amount of diseases that these medications have a solution and cure for. Modern medicine is unable to cure many diseases such as cancers, Hepatitis, diabetes, M.S, schizophrenia, Infertility, etc.
While all of these can be cured perfectly and permanently in Islamic Medicine.
✔️ A key difference between Islamic and modern medicine lies in its source. Modern medicine is based on experience and research. An idea is ‘discovered’ about a disease, which can be changed or retracted by the following year. This is why, when one looks for academic medicine reference books, the latest published version must be sought since they can change so frequently. In contrast, Islamic medicine is based on divine sources, which are all true and not changeable. As Imam Al Sadiq a.s. once told an Indian Tabib: I have learnt all my knowledge from my fathers, they had got it from the holy Prophet who was taught by Jibrail and he had obtained that knowledge from Allah (s.w.t.).
✅ In conclusion, it makes more sense to call Islamic medicine the ‘Primary medicine’, rather than alternative medicine. This is because it is more complete, healthier, cheaper, with access to a wide array of remedies and it seeks to treat both spiritual and physical diseases simultaneously. To reinforce this further, it is useful to point out that according to Islamic Medicine, even all the elements of the universe, such as the rays of the moon and other planets, are considered to impact a person’s health.