Can a Christian consider alternative medicine?

The interesting thing about alternative medicine is that over time, what once was considered alternative, often eventually becomes mainstream. Virtually every pharmaceutical drug and medical treatment was considered alternative or experimental in its early stages. For the Christian, the question is not really whether a medicine is alternative. Rather, the question is whether a medicine or medical treatment is in any way ungodly or unbiblical.

At, we occasionally receive inquiries from individuals who reveal themselves to be strenuously hostile towards some form of alternative medicine. Chiropractic and acupuncture are the two most frequent subjects, but there are "haters" out there for virtually every avenue of alternative medicine. Typically the reasoning behind the hostility is the pagan and non-Christian origins of the alternative treatment methods. The logic, actually illogic, is that if something was invented by a non-Christian, it must be inherently anti-Christian.

The problem is that if we applied this idea to other areas of life, there would be countless things we do every day that were invented in part, or in full, by non-Christians. If Henry Ford had been a Buddhist, would that mean we should not drive cars? If the Wright brothers had been Muslims, would that mean we should not fly in airplanes? If the inventor of the television was an atheist, would that mean everything on TV is evil?

But, we don't even have to go outside of the medical field to expose the flaws in the "if something was invented by a non-Christian, it must be inherently anti-Christian" concept. While many forms of alternative medicine were in fact invented by those of non-Christian faiths (eastern religions especially), much of modern Western medicine is based on the philosophies of the Greeks and Romans, hardly the pillars of evangelical Christian faith and practice. The "logo" of modern Western medicine, the Caduceus, two snakes entwined around a winged staff, is itself a pagan symbol. It is a symbol of the Greek god Hermes. So, does that make any hospital or medical center which displays the symbol pagan?

For the Christian, the inventor/originator of an alternative medical practice cannot be the sole determining factor on whether the practice is something a Christian can consider. We are to be "as shrewd as snakes, and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). We are to thoroughly examine something, and be fully convinced that it is right, before we subject ourselves to it (Romans 14:23). We are not to do something just because it is permissible, but rather we are to determine if it is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23).

So, when you are in need of medical care, do not necessarily limit yourself to standardized/traditional medicine. There are many forms of alternative medicine that Christians can, in good conscience, consider. Do your research. Consult with professionals who can give you a balanced viewpoint. And, above all, ask the Great Physician for wisdom (James 1:5).

S. Michael Houdmann

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Can a Christian consider alternative medicine?