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About Unani

Unani medicine is an ancient system of medicine that uses a wide variety of methods for diagnosing and treating many different conditions. UNANI literally means “Greek” where Greece was called “Unaan” in ancient times. It is practised throughout Asia and especially in India.


Unani means medicines which are a symbol of life. The name comes from the word “Ionian” that came from Greece. The word “Tibb” translates to ‘knowledge of different states of human body in health or lack of health’, therefore meaning medicine. TIBB-E-UNANI, hence an age old time tested system of medicine dating back 5000 years to Greece.


There are two types of Unani practitioners. The simple folk practitioners who dispense herbal remedies and other treatments, and the sophisticated and modern day educated scholars and doctors who are involved in research in Unani.

Philosophy behind Unani

The fundamentals of Unani are based on Hippocrates’ humoral theory. This considers the presence of four humors in the body. According to Unani philosophy the health and illness of a person depends upon the balance of these humors in the body who have their own temperament.



  1. Dam (Blood) – hot and wet


  2. Balgham (Phlegm) – cold and wet


  3. Safra (Yellow Bile) – hot and dry


  4. Sauda (Black Bile) – cold and dry



These four humors always remain in a state of equilibrium. Every person is endowed with a unique temperament at the time of his or her birth and this is determined by the presence of all the four humors in different proportions in the body. The quantity and quality of these four humours impacts the state of bodily health and disease. If the equilibrium of the four humors is disturbed, there is onset of disease. The Unani practitioner or hakim therefore adopts different methods to bring back all the four temperaments in equilibrium so as to restore the health of a person.

History of Unani

Unani system of Medicine owes its origin to Greece. It was the Greek philosopher Hippocrates who freed Medicine from the realm of superstition and magic, and gave it the status of science. Unfortunately now modern science wants to call it superstition and magic without trying to ascertain the real value of an alternative form of medicine that can yield results that conventional medicine may not be able to yield in certain cases. Galen stands out as one who stabilised its foundation on which Arab physicians like Rhazes and Avicenna constructed an imposing stature.


In India, Unani system of Medicine was introduced by Arabs and soon took firm roots in the soil. The sultans of Delhi, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, and the Mughal emperors provided state patronage to many scholars and even enrolled as state employees and court physicians. Some of the famous names were Abu Bakr Bin Ali Usman Ksahani, Sadruddin Damashqui, Ali Geelani and Akbal Arzani.


During the British rule this system suffered a major setback and its development was hampered due to withdrawal of patronage of the government. The system however continued to be practised as it enjoyed the faith of the masses. An outstanding physician and scholar of Unani Medicine, Hakim Ajmal Khan championed the cause of the system in India.

Unani and Modern Science

Unani has not been a subject of great deal of interest to the modern science proponents for research. Not much scientific information is available due to this fact. Also, however, it must be noted, as it is true with other alternative medicine disciplines, randomized controlled trial method of Evidence based Medicine (EBM) may not be the best paradigm in evaluating the effectiveness of multiple treatments for more than one disorder or disease.


Active research is on in the field of Unani by Unani proponents and institutes such as Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine (CRIUM) in Hyderabad, India, Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, King Abdul Aziz University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, among others. Research done by CRIUM is establishing unique promise for the cure of Vitiligo, a type of Luekoderma, a skin disease through Unani.  The research is also showing Unani offering a new promise in dealing with cerebral palsy, increasing immunity in AIDS patients and showing remarkable results in areas such as Anti-ageing, Hepatoprotective, Immunomodulatory, Autoimmune disorders, Chronic inflammatory diseases, Gastrointestinal disorders, Sexual disorder, Hepato-billiary diseases, Articular and bone diseases, Neurological disorders, Psychosomatic disorders, Cardio vascular diseases, Skin and blook related diseases and Lifestyle and communicable diseases. Recent CRIUM research has established the efficacy of Unani in treating diseases like hepatitis B, malaria, luekoderma and many skin problems.


Unani is an integral part of the National Healthcare Delivery system in India and many other countries and is recognized by the WHO. Unani healing is being adopted widely today in practice, teaching and research across more than 20 countries including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Korea Canada, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, UK and USA.

More About Unani

Unani classical literature consists of thousands of books. According to this system, management of any disease depends upon the diagnosis of the disease. In the diagnosis, clinical features, i.e., signs, symptoms, laboratory features and mizaj (temperament) are important.


Any cause and or factor is countered by quwwat-e-mudabbira-e-badan (the power of body responsible to maintain health), the failing of which may lead to quantitative or qualitative derangement of the normal equilibrium of akhlat (humors) of the body which constitute the tissues and organs. This abnormal humor leads to pathological changes in the tissue automatically at the affected site and exhibits clinical manifestations.


After diagnosis, Usoole ilaj (principle of management) of disease is determined on the basis of etymology in the following manner:

  1. IZALAE SABAB (elimination of cause)
  2. TADEELE AKHLAT (normalization of humors)
  3. TADEELE AZA (normalization of tissues/organs)


Different Branches of Unani

  1. Internal Medicine (Moalijat)
  2. Gynaecology including Obstetrics and Pediatrics
  3. Diseases of the head and neck
  4. Toxicology
  5. Psychiatry
  6. Sexology
  7. Regimental therapy
  8. Dietotherapy
  9. Rejuvenation therapy including Geriatrics
  10. Hydrotherapy


Different Forms of Treatment

There are four basic kinds of treatment available:

  1. Ilaj bil Ghiza (Dietotherapy)
  2. Ilaj bil tadbeer (Regimental therapy) 
  3. Ilaj bil dawa (Pharmacotherapy) 
  4. Jarahat (Surgery)
Pros and Cons of Unani


  1. Unani treatment is personalized to the individual.
  2. It work towards removing root cause rather than providing symptomatic treatment.
  3. Because of herbal remedies employed, it is known for its non-toxicity and absence of side-effects.
  4. Since medicines contain no chemicals or harsh isolated compounds, Unani is the best for long term application as in treatment of chronic diseases.
  5. The medicines and treatments are safe for children as well as pregnant women as opposed to conventional medicine (Allopathy).
  6. There is no risk of drug dependence and it is very easy to prescribe.



  1. Treatment and results may take longer than conventional (Allopathy) medication.
  2. May not be suited for acute or severe diseases.
  3. There can be need of being wary of Unani practitioners who are not well qualified or knowledgeable enough about this system of medicine.
  4. There is no strict regulation of the treatment process or medicines.
  5. Emergency conditions are best treated by conventional medicine.
Diseases Best Treated by Unani

The following diseases are best treated by Unani

  1. Migraine
  2. Infertility
  3. Ischemic heart disease
  4. Sexual disorders
  5. Kidney stones
  6. Diabetic wounds
  7. Cervical spondylitis and neck stiffness
  8. Sciatica
  9. Knee pain
  10. Frozen shoulder
  11. Depression, anxiety
  12. Sleep disorders
  13. Diabetes mellitus
  14. High blood pressure
FAQs About Unani

1. What is Unani?

Unani means Greek. It comes from the Greek word “Ionia”, the Greek name of Asia Minor coastline and it is from the Arabic term for Greece; Al-yunaan. Unani used to refer to Graeco-Arabic medicine.


2. How does it treat diseases?

 It is an alternative form of medicine accepted by WHO. It is based on four elemnts (Air, fire, water and earth) theory and four humour theory (Blood, phlegm, black bile and bile) theories.


3. What are the types of treatment offered in Unani?

4 types of treatment are offered in Unani. Treatment with medicines, food and nutrients, regimental therapy and surgery are done.


4. Is it effective quickly?

Diseases like cold and cough, joint pains, digestive diseases and joint pains are treatable quite easily and quickly. Some of the other diseases may need longer time period.


5. Is there any side effects?

Unani medicines do not usually have any side effects as they are all made from natural substances. But consumption of drugs without taking advice from an expert or improperly may have side-effects.


6. How are the medicines?

The medications are prescribed as single or compound drugs. Most of the drugs have honey as consistency. The main forms are tablets, pills, ashes, powder, tonic and creams.


7. What is known temperament of a drug?

It signifies the whole chemistry and property of a drug and its potential of having toxicity or otherwise. The substances from which the drug is prepared have their own temperament.


8. What is Regimental therapy?

There are five forms

  1. Exercise
  2. Hammam
  3. Douches
  4. Massage
  5. Geriatrics

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Total Questions: 5

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