Unani treatment

What is Unani Medicine or Unani treatment?

UTraditional complementary and Alternative medicine (TCAM) is widely and increasingly being used in both developing and developed countries. Up to 80% of the population in Africa and 65% in India depend on traditional medicine to help meet their health care needs.

Elsewhere, in Asia and in Latin America, historical circumstances and cultural beliefs mean that populations continue to use traditional medicine.

In many developed countries, certain complementary and alternative medicine therapies are popular; the percentage of the population that has used complementary and alternative medicine at least once is 48% in Australia, 70% in Canada, 70% in the USA, 40% in Belgium, and 49% in France.

unani treatment

Best Unani Doctor in Kerala

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized the Unani System of Medicine (USM) as an alternative system to cater to the health care needs of the human population. Alternative medicine is being practiced worldwide.

Unani is one of the most well-known traditional medicine systems and draws on the ancient traditional systems of medicine of India and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Unani medicine is popular in South Asian countries and its use is growing in other parts of the world.

It has now become part of the mainstream system of medicine in India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, UAE, and others.

It is also called Arab medicine. Unani is still popular in many Arab and East Asian countries. In fact, Unani medicine and herbal products are gradually more being used in many countries where modern medicine is easily available. India has accepted it as one of the alternative health care systems and has given it official status.

Unani medicine encompasses a wide range of practices. Unani regimental therapy includes venesection, cupping, the promotion of diaphoresis and diuresis, Turkish baths, massage, cauterization, purging, emesis, exercise, and leeching.

Unani diet therapy deals with certain ailments by treating them with specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food.

Unani diet therapy deals with certain ailments by treating them with specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food.

Single medicines or their combination in raw form are preferred over compound formulations.

Unani physiotherapy uses specific exercise techniques to help balance the homeostasis of the body.


The history of Unani medicine can be characterized by the work of its practitioners, or hakims, who relied on natural healing based on principles of harmony and balance, uniting the physical, mental, and spiritual realms.


The principal sources of medicine in USM are,

  • Plant Origin (Herbal)
  • Animal Origin
  • Mineral Origin
When the raw herb is used one at a time is called ILAJ BIL MUFRAD (treatment by a single herb).

When more than two herbs are combined together, it is called ILAJ BIL MURAKKABAt (treatment by compound of natural herbs). Various herbal formulations are used in Unani medicine

Unani medicine offers a number of herbal plants, mineral, and animal origin that have immunomodulation activity and are effective to strengthen and increase the immunity system, hence such herbs can be safely used in auto-immune diseases like ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Examples of such drugs are Lehsun (Allium sativum), Kalonji (Nigella sativa), Filfil siyah (Piper nigrum), Filfildaraz (Piper nigrum), Shahed (honey), Asalassoos (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Haldi (Curcuma longa), Karela (Mimordica charantia), Asgand (Withania somnifera), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Piyaz (Allium cepa), Zanjabel (Zingiber officinalis), Ghikawar (Aloe barbadensis), Satawar (Asparagus racemosus), Badam (Prunus amygdalus), Marwareed (Margarata), Zafran (Crocus sativus), Gaozban (Borage officinalis), Zaitoon (Olea europea), Qaranfal (Eugenia caryophyllata), Zehar mohra (Serpentin), Murmakki, etc.


  • Solid formulations: Powder, tablets and pills, etc
  • Semi-Solid formulations: Electuaries, Aperients, Jwarishat, Khamerajat, etc
  • Liquid formulations: Syrups, decoctions, linctuses, eye and nasal drops, etc.


The Unani Pharmacopoeia mentions the shelf life of various formulations, which is empirical. Intensive observation and use of these formulations over the centuries has made it possible to evaluate the life of the formulation for its use.

The expiration dates of various medications are mentioned in the classical literature of USM depending on the authority.


Unani medicine originated in Greece and is primarily based on the principles propounded by the ancient Greek practitioners Hippocrates and Galen.

Over the subsequent centuries, a number of Arab and Persian scholars enriched the system, among them Ibn Sina, who is also known as Avicenna.

Over the subsequent centuries, a number of Arab and Persian scholars enriched the system, among them Ibn Sina, who is also known as Avicenna.

Unani medicine states that disease is a natural process and that symptoms are the reactions of the body to disease. It employs the humoral theory which presupposes the presence of four akhlaat (humours) in the body – dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile).

Each humour has its own temperament: blood is hot and moist; phlegm is cold and moist; yellow bile is hot and dry; and black bile is cold and dry. According to Unani, if the four main humours and the four primary temperaments (hot, cold, dry, moist) are all in a state of mutual equilibrium, the person is considered healthy.

In Unani medicine, six key factors are evaluated in relation to health. These six factors are called “al-umoor al-tabiyah”. Each has a close relationto, and a direct bearing on, the state of health of an individual. Therefore, it is necessary for an Unani medicine practitioner to take all these factors into consideration in order to arrive at a correct diagnosis and decide how to treat the ailment.


According to the Unani system of medicine, there are four stages of digestion. Gastric digestion followed by intestinal digestion, when food is turned into chyme and chyle and carried to the liver.

Hepatic digestion, when chyle is converted into the four humours in varying quantities, blood being the largest. Thus, the blood that leaves the liver is intermixed with the other three humours; phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.

Vessel digestion, in which every tissue absorbs nutrition by its attractive power and retains it by its retentive power. Tissue digestion is the digestive power that, in conjunction with the power of assimilation, converts the nutritive elements into tissue.

States of the human body (Haalaat al-jism)

According to Unani medicine practitioners, the states of the body are grouped under three headings:

Health, in which all the functions of the body operate normally;

Disease, the opposite of health, in which one or more forms or functions of the bodily organs are at fault; and neither health nor disease, where there is neither complete health nor actual disease, such as in the case of elderly individuals or those who are convalescing.

Diseases are of two types, namely simple or complex. A simple disease is one that completes its course without complications. A simple disease may manifest itself in three forms:


  • Structural diseases;
  • Diseases of disharmony.
  • Further categories of disease are listed in Abu Sina’s Canon of Medicine.

Physical temperament (Mizaj)

The interaction of the elements produces various states, which in turn determine the temperament of an individual. It is of paramount importance to keep that temperament in mind while prescribing a course of treatment. Each individual has a unique temperament, which may potentially be really equitable, equitable or inequitable.

The state of real equitable never occurs in reality, rather it is a theoretical situation in which the temperaments of the four elements used are equal. An equitable temperament denotes an appropriate and required amount of compatible temperaments.

An inequitable temperament results from an inappropriate distribution of temperaments for the requirements of the individual’s condition.


Unani medicine has long recognized the influence of surroundings and ecological conditions on the state of health of human beings. It has a theory on the six essential prerequisites for the prevention of disease and it places great emphasis on the maintenance of a proper ecological balance and on keeping water, food and air free from all pollution.

These prerequisites, known as al-asbab al-sitta al-dharuriya (six essentials) may be briefly explained as follows:

Al-hawaa (air)

Good, clean air is necessary for health and many diseases are said to occur owing to changes in the air. Abu Sina, the famous Unani medicine practitioner, said that a change of environment can relieve patients of many diseases. Abu Sina also emphasized the need for open, airy houses with proper ventilation and for playgrounds and gardens in the cities so that everyone could get plenty of fresh air to allow for maintenance of a proper ecological cycle;

Al-maakool wa al-mashroob (food and drink)

Food should be fresh and free from putrefaction and pathogens. Drinking water should also be pure;

Harakat wa sukoon al-baden (physical exercise and repose)

To maintain positive health and fitness, the body requires both exercise and rest. Inflammation and fractures require total rest for an optimum healing. On the other hand, afflictions such as paralysis demand specific types of movement. Several exercises help muscles to grow and ensure increased blood supply and proper functioning of the excretory system. Exercise also keeps the heart and liver in good condition.


Psychological factors such as happiness, sorrow, and anger are believed to have considerable bearing on the health of the human being. Unani medicine practitioners maintain that certain diseases and disorders, are caused by emotional strain and maladjustment. Therefore, when dealing with such cases, the practitioner should try to take all these factors into account. There is a branch of Unani medicine known as “psychologicaltreatment” that deals with the abovementioned factors, and many diseases are treated by psychological methods. Sometimes this type of treatment is used alone, while at other times it is used in conjunction with various medicines. Unani medicine practitioners have also recognized the effects of music, pleasant company and beautiful scenery.


Normal sleep and wakefulness are essential for health. Sleep is an ideal form of rest; physical as well as mental. Lack of sleep causes dissipation of energies, mental weakness and digestive disturbances.


Waste products of the body, if not completely and properly excreted, produce disease. The natural means of excretion are diuresis, diaphoresis, vomiting, defecation, excretion through the uterus in the form of menses, excretion through the eyes, ears and nose and respiration. Proper and normal functioning of the excretory processes must be ensured in order to maintain what, in Unani medicine, is considered perfect health. Any disturbance in the normal excretory balances, whether it is excess, diminution or blockage, may lead to disease.


According to Unani medicine there are three kinds of powers: psychic (natural) power, power of metabolism and power of reproduction.

Psychic and nervous power is present in the brain and is made up of two other powers: perceptive power, which conveys impressions or sensations, and motive power, which brings about movements as a response to the sensation.

Perceptive power may be external or internal. The external perceptive power recognizes objects outside the body and is served by the fivesenses. The internal perceptive power operates when perceptions do not come from the outside, but are inferences drawn from external impressions and realizations


  • Composite sense, which collects together all external realizations;
  • Imagination, which stores all the materials collected by the composite sense;
  • Conceptualization, which correlates all external realizations and draws conclusions from them;
  • Memory, which stores the conclusions drawn by conceptualization;
  • The modifying faculty, which gives the capacity to explain the same thing in different ways and interprets all internal and external realizations.
  • The seat of the power of metabolism is the liver, but the process is active in every tissue of the body. The process of metabolism is conducted by two powers:
  • Nutritive power is developed in the liver from the food eaten and is conveyed to all parts of the body. It is served by four other powers: attractive, retentive, digestive and expulsive;
  • Growing power is responsible for the development and growth of the human organism and is served by three other powers – receptive power, power to retain nutrition and assimilative power.



Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase and improve their control over health. It is not directed against any particulardisease but is intended to strengthen the host through various methods or interventions.

Well-known interventions in this area are health education, environmental modification, hypothetical interventions, lifestyle, and behaviour change.

Unani medicine considers many factors in maintaining health and divides the body in many ways to define this knowledge. The first way the body is defined by Unani medicine is to describe it as having four humours.

It further defines the state of the body into three distinct phases: health, disease, and neutral.

In the footsteps of both the Qur'an and the Hadith, Unani medicine views illness as an opportunity to serve, cleanse, purify and balance the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual planes.

Towards this goal, Unani remedies are natural which include proper fresh food (to correct imbalance), herbal medicines, minerals, promotion of a code of conduct conducive to positive health, and proper rest as prevention and cure.

It also emphasizes compounds that are related to the human body and avoiding foods that cause allergies. The balance between mind and body is also important in metabolic processes and counselling is usually offered for this goal.

CONCLUSION: Unani system of medicine is very effective in chronic diseases:

It is evident from the above information that Unani medicine strives to find the best possible ways by which a person can lead a healthy life with the least or zero sickness.

It is totally based on the holistic approach of health, and the major approaches of health promotion include improvement of immunity by immunomodulators, maintenance of balance in the quality and quantity of humours, moderation of 6 essential factors of life and adoption of regimental and diet-therapies which are conducive to the maintenance and promotion of positive health as well as the prevention and cure of disease. .