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What Is Unani And Where Did It Originate?
Unani medicine is an age old traditional medicinal practice found in India. It is an ancient system which is used to diagnose and cure a number of medicinal ailments. Unani means ‘Greek’. Unani medicine has been practiced in India over the ages.  The origination of Unani medicine has been credited to Avicenna, who derived the system by recording observations around 980 AD.

The medicinal system includes a number of concepts taken from Hippocrates, Galen and Rhazes. Hippocrates freed medicine from the clutches of witchcraft and gave it the status of science. He believed that balancing ‘Arkan’ (elements), ‘Akhlat’ (humor) and ‘Mizaj’ (temperament) helped in keeping the mind and body healthy. After Hippocrates, Galen and Razes have shared a number of observations and information pertaining to medicine.

The medicinal practice of Unani was first introduced by the Arabs in India. Among the key contributors of Unani in India are Hakim Ajmal Khan and Hakim Abdul Hameed. Their contribution towards stabilizing and modernizing Unani Medicine both before and after independence is noteworthy.

How is Unani Beneficial?
Unani is a beneficial medicinal study that helps in dealing and curing a number of ailments. Some of the major ones have been listed below:

  • Prevents asthma
  • Prevents arthritis
  • Controls diabetes
  • Maintains healthy cardiac routine
  • Improves mental health
  • Prevents or heals renal disorders
  • Prevents bronchitis
  • Helps in curing skin-leukoderma
  • Works on sexual disorders
  • Improves digestion
  • Acts as a preventive medicine
  • Treats metabolic and chronic conditions.
  • Strengthens body tissues and digestive tract
  • Helps treating challenging diseases like cancer, AIDS and autoimmune disorders.
  • Harmless and non-toxic treatment
  • Reduces the level of ama (toxins) in the body.
  • Cures insomnia
  • Helps in reducing muscular pain
  • Cures planter fascitis
  • Cures joint pains
  • Works on cervical problems and frozen shoulder

Research Showing the Efficacy of study

  • Central Research Institute for Unani Medicine (CRIUM) has tested and proved that the use of Unani medicine is helpful in treating Vitiligo. The research also shows that the use of Unani medicine is effective in treating ailments like malaria, hepatitis B, leukoderma and many skin problems.
  • Division of Metabolism, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Chongqing Medical University has also tested Unani medicine on mice to understand the efficacy of the medicine on insulin resistance and skin abnormalities. The study reveals that the use of Unani medicine is useful in treating diabetes and skin diseases.
  • According to a study done by Pubmed, the use of Unani medicines helps in treating bronchial asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, asthma and joint pains.

Principles in Unani Medicine:

There are few principles that have been a primary part of the Unani medicinal study. Major importance is given to maintaining equilibrium in the body. Unani believes that the body works by the harmonious arrangement of seven basic physiological principles. The seven arrangements are:

  • Arkan (Elements)
  •  A’za (Organs)
  • Mizaj (Temperament)
  • Akhlat (Humours)
  • Arwah (Vital Spirit)
  • Quwa (Powers)
  • Af’aal (Functions)

The alteration in any of these ailments can lead to disease or ailments. It is important to keep a check on all the factors to reach the correct line of treatment. Maintaining a balance between the four integral elements, earth, fire, water, land and the humours is the ideology behind Unani medicine.

How does it work?
According to Unani medicine, disease is a natural process and the symptoms are the reaction of a disease.

  • The main aim of Unani medicine is to heal and cure the disease using natural forces and elements present in the body.
  • Based on the Humoral Theory given by Hippocrates, the human body is blessed with the presence of four humours called blood (dam), phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.
  • The other thing present in the body is Mizaj, also referred to as temperament.
  • The body temperaments are expressed in four ways, i.e. phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine and melancholic.
  • The body also has humor, which has assigned temperaments – black bile is cold and dry, the blood is hot and moist, phlegm is cold and moist and yellow bile is hot and dry.
  • All these elements should be in equilibrium to maintain health. To maintain a healthy balance there is a power of self-preservation or adjustment called Quwwat-e-Mudabbira.
  • Unani medicine aims at regaining the power by maintaining humoral balance.
  • Unani medicinal uses Baul (wine), Nabz (pulse) and Baraz (stool) etc. to diagnose a disease. The treatment is done using products made out of plants and animals.

Types of treatment in Unani system

  • Regimental therapy or Ilaj-bit-Tadbeer
  • Dietotherapy or Ilaj-bit-ghiza
  • Pharmacotherapy or Ilaj-bit-Dawa
  • Surgery or Jarahat

Any Risks, Precautions, Contraindications

There are no side effects in Unani medicine. The only precaution to be taken is during the time of pregnancy and breastfeeding.


  1. Izhar N. The Unani traditional medical system in India: a case study in health behaviour. Geogr Med. 1989;19:163-85.PMID:2767434
  2. Aslam M, Bano H, Vohora SB. Sartan (cancer) and its treatment in Unani Medicine. Am J Chin Med. 1981 Summer;9(2):95-107. PubMed PMID: 7048893.
  3. Chaudhary SS, Tariq M, Zaman R, Imtiyaz S. The In vitro anti-acne activity of two unani drugs. Anc Sci Life. 2013 Jul;33(1):35-8. doi: 10.4103/0257-7941.134594. PMID:25161328[PubMed]
  4. Zaidi SA. Unani treatment and leech therapy saved the diabetic foot of a patient from amputation. Int Wound J. 2014 May 8. doi: 10.1111/iwj.12285. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:24809835
  5. Husain SF, Ahmad I, Shamsi S. Standardization of the finished product: Habbe Irqun Nisa – A Unani anti-inflammatory formulation.Anc Sci Life. 2012 Jul;32(1):38-44. doi: 10.4103/0257-7941.113803. PMID:23929993[PubMed]
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