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What is Unani Medicine?

Our traditions and ancient practices are precious. They contain various gems for mankind, especially when it comes to traditional therapies.

Unani Medicine is one such valuable medicinal practices.

Unani, or Yunani medicine, emerged from Greek backgrounds. This form of ancient Greek medicine was adopted by Perso-Arabs. It is since practised as a traditional Islamic branch of medicine.

It is also known as Unani Tibb, Greco-Arabic medicine, etc.
Unani systems are commonly practised in Middle-East and in Southern Asia. In places such as Pakistan, India, parts of China, Persia, South Africa, England, etc.

This art of healing the body and curing diseases uses herbal and natural methods.

History of Unani Medicine

The word ‘Unani’ itself stands for ‘Greek’ in Arabic. The term itself derives of its place of origin.

The emergence of Unani is traced from the teachings of Greek physicians – Galen and Hippocrates. Practices of Unani systems and treatments have also been noticed in ancient Egypt and Babylonia.

Greeks developed these Egyptian and Babylonian practices in 1200BCE. This form of Greek medicine was translated into Arabic. The existing doctrines were elaborately modified by figures as such – Al-Razi, Rabban Tabari, and Ibn Sina.

Ibn Sina, known commonly as Avicenna, was very influential. He was a philosopher-scientist and contributed significantly to medieval Islamic medicine.

The spread of Islam in the world also spread this form of medicine. The Delhi Sultans and Mughal emperors rooted Unani in India. It has been flourishing ever since.

With modern and minimalistic ways of living, Unani becomes a very judicious branch of medicine.

Principles of Unani Medicine

The principle of Unani revolves around the balancing of 4 elements of the body. These elements carry out the functioning of our organs, and ultimately the body.

Unlike Ayurveda that considers the three dosha system and Chinese medicine of five elements, Unani is different. Imbalance in the four bodily fluids/ humours (Akhlat) is believed to cause ailments.

The cure lies in restoring and maintaining a balance of the humours. Proper levels of humours lead to a managed temperament (Mizaj), which promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The Four Humours of the Unani system are:
–         Blood
–         Phlegm
–         Black Bile
–         Yellow Bile

These four humours relate to the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
Natures – Hot, Cold, Dry, and wet, are also inter-linked to the elements.

The various practices of Unani encompass – herbal treatments, dietary changes, natural therapies, etc. Altered diet as per one’s body, routine therapies, naturally curated medicines, etc. prove to be advantageous.

The system functions based on a selective diet, hygiene, proper nutrition, psychological treatments, suitable surroundings, etc.

Unani believes that improper sanitation and pollution can result in bodily disorientations.

Approach and Treatment using Unani Medicines

The principles of Unani medicine revolve around the balancing of bodily elements. Any imbalance in the organs is a result of an imbalance of the body’s fluids.

For instance –
–         Any improper level of the phlegm makes one apathetic and bothers one’s temperament.
–         Unusual blood levels or circulation can cause a negative and pessimistic mindset. It also gives rise to many diseases related to the circulation and flow of blood.
–         Abnormalities of the yellow and black bile result in choleric and melancholic health, respectively.

The technique of diagnosing a disease or malfunctioning of the body via Unani medicine lies in observing the body fluids. The underlying fluid functioning brings changes in symptoms and temperament.

These distortions in the body’s temperament lead to numerous internal and external health issues. They give rise to changes in tissues in the organ affected. This results in a disease or discomfort.

Therefore, it is necessary to keep the body humours under control and balanced.

The Treatment focuses on regaining humour equilibrium. The diagnosis and effective treatment is made to identify the cause of humour misbalance.

The normalising of humours leads to the gradual healing of tissues. Ultimately, the symptom mitigates and cures due to the restoration of balance.

The Unani approach follows identification, promotion of good balance, prevention of imbalance, curing, as well as additional follow up with rehabilitation. It is being highly recommended as a holistic procedure.

Uses and Benefits of Unani Medicine

The Unani medicine is tested as well as proven for its effectiveness. Unani treatments are specific of several different immunity types and physical conditions.

The Unani branch of traditional medicine focuses on healing many chronic ailments:  
–         It derives cures and treatments for skin, heart, lungs, liver, musculoskeletal systems, reproductive health, etc.
–         Adapting to Unani systems of healing leads to a better lifestyle all in all. Unani takes into account one’s diet. Alterations in one’s dietary regimes are a crucial part of curing ailments through Unani.
–      Many therapies also include detoxifying the body. It focuses on flushing out the accumulated waste from the inside to heal and strengthen the organs.
–         Unani also assists in blood pressure management, homeostasis, metabolic stimulation, and regulating menstrual cycles.
–         It helps in the betterment of skin via releasing toxins. It controls rashes, scabies, boils, and so on. The toxin removal also keeps the liver healthy.
–      Conditions such as indigestion, constipation, genital inflammations, etc. can also be healed by Unani.
–         Some unique systematic manners also aim at reducing inflammation, tumours, pains, and allergic irritations.
–         The many treatment aimed therapies are also helpful in gaining or losing weight. Ideal body weight maintenance is very crucial for overall health and fitness.
–         Massage induced techniques improve blood circulation. Moreover, it also benefits in relaxing the body as well as the mind.
–         It is even effective in correcting Asthma. Unani also cures many mind-oriented ailments such as mania, melancholia, migraines, etc.
–         This system of healing includes many routinely practices and aims to correct insufficient lifestyles. A general alteration in such domains can lead to ultimate benefits to the entire body system.

Symptoms and illnesses traditionally used for

One of the best alternative medicinal practices is Unani. Along with treating current conditions, Unani also aims at prevention.

The following are some symptoms and illnesses that Unani has the cure for:

–          Cardiovascular problems
–         High blood pressures
–         Arthritis
–         Cataracts and vision disorders
–         Ageing-related brain issues
–         Autism
–         Migraines
–         Malaria
–         Spleen-related issues
–         Constipation and indigestion
–         Liver, lungs, and heart problems
–         Muscle and joint pains
–         Cancer
–         Reproductive and Menstrual issues
–         Skin eruptions, allergies, irritations, ringworms, etc.
–         Common cold and fever
–         Asthma
–         Tonsillitis

Herbs and Foods that are commonly used in Unani

By now, you are aware that the practices of Unani include herbal and natural ingredients. The medicines used for treatments, as well as several therapies, are all derived from nature.

The methods and components are unique and compelling. The locally available remedies are used to prepare cures. This is also safer for one’s body and has less side-effect.

The patient is keenly observed before prescription of Unani medicine. The type and dosage of drugs are according to a patient’s temperament.
The matching of bodily frequencies and immunity with the intensity of medicine helps in creating a perfect balance. It also reduces any risks of negative consequences.

Some commonly used herbs and foods in Unani medicine are as follows:


Tulsi, Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Miswak, Common Rue, Acacia, etc.

Foods and spices:

Saffron, Cardamom, Citrus fruits, Bay leaf, Cloves, Almonds, Garlic, Ginger, Isabghol, Apricot seeds, Gooseberry, Honey, etc.

Some important Unani therapies include:

–         Dieto-therapy (bringing changes in the quality and quantity of food one’s food)
–         Exercise (stimulating better functioning)
–         The Turkish bath (removal of toxins promoting better health)
–         Sweating (for cooling and waste removal)
–         Massage (improving circulation)
–         Pharmacotherapy (using natural drugs as medicine)
–         Cauterisation (preventing the spread of damage from one to many organs)

Famous Unani Practitioners

‘Hakims’ are the curators and practitioners of Unani. There have been numerous Hakims since the beginning of Unani medicine. They have contributed to the growth, development, spread, and treatments of Unani.

Some of the many Unani Hakims include:


Also famously called Avicenna was among the most outstanding Persian scholars. He was among the firsts to set the foundation for the development of Unani.
He is an ancient father of modern medicine. He was a prominent figure of the Islamic Golden age.

Hakim Ajmal Khan

Hakim Ajmal Khan came from a family of Unani practitioners. His family practised Unani medicine under the Mughals, during their rule in India.

Hakim Ajmal Khan pioneered Unani medicine into modern India. He also fought against the British for the growth of traditional medical systems. He promoted Unani and Ayurveda, during colonial Indian times.

Hakim Muhammad Saeed

He is among the renowned medical researchers from Pakistan. He wrote many medicines and health-related books. Till date his works are read and followed.

Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman

He was an Indian Unani scholar and teacher. His works were concerning medieval medicines of Islam. He also founded the Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences in India.

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