Unani Natural Medicine

By Dr. M.U.Z.N. Farzana (BUMS)  MSc,  MS (OBG – Unani), Senior Lecturer – Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo.

Dr. Farzana is also an adviser to The Spice Journal

The Unani System of Medicine:
The Unani system of medicine is a science with a superb art of healing.

Unani treats a person as an individual, not as a constituent of a group of individuals.

The Unani Philosophy is to treat the body, the mind, and the soul.

It is a science of which we ascertain various states of the body when in health and when not in health; and the reasons by which health is likely to be lost, and when lost how it is most likely to be restored – AVICENNA.

The Unani system has its origins in Greece and was later developed by Arabs into an elaborate science based on the teachings of Buqrath (Hippocrates 460-377 BC).

A number of other Greek scholars are credited with enriching the Unani system; most prominent of them was Jalinus (Galen 131-200 AD) who drew inspiration from Hippocrates. Jalinus stands out as the person who stabilized the Unani foundation on which Arab physicians like Rhazes (850-923 AD) and Avicenna (980-1037 AD) constructed an imposing medicinal edifice.

Hence Unani is also known as a Greek as well as an Arab Medicine.

However the Unani system of medicine clearly owes its present form to the Arabs who not only saved much of the Greek literature by rendering it into Arabic, but they also enriched the medicine of their day with their own contributions.

Unani medicines were enriched by absorbing and enhancing what was best in the contemporary systems of traditional medicines in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, India, China, and other Middle East countries.

It took firm roots during the 13th to 17th centuries A.D. and during that era also had its hey-day in India.

Greek medicine greatly simplified, was based on the concept of balancing body humours by Tabiat (Medicatrix materica) the supernatural powers in the body. The Tabiat either fell out of balance, which might yield diseases (depending on circumstances) or were restored to balance, preventing diseases.

Unani physicians practice the concept that health is a state of body in which there is equilibrium in the humours and functions of the body.

When the equilibrium of the humours is disturbed quantitatively or qualitatively (or both) the physiological functions of the body are deranged (because of the abnormal temperament of the affected organ or system) resulting in disease.

Therefore, the practice of a Unani physician is to determine the cause of the underlying disruption of humours, so that it can be corrected and the disease can be cured.

The various treatments recommended by Unani Physicians are:

Ilaj bil Ghiza (Dieto therapy), Ilaj bid Dawa (Pharmaco therapy), Ilaj bit Tadbeer (Regimenal therapy) and Ilaj bil Yad (Surgery).

In treatment methods, Dieto therapy is very effective in curing diseases.

In this regard spices also play a very significant role in Unani medicine.

In this modern era, indigenous medicine refers to “the traditional health sciences” with the knowledge of incorporating plants, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, and manual techniques and exercises.

These scientific practices are applied either singularly or in combination, to prevent, diagnose, and treat illnesses, and maintain well-being.

The indigenous system of Unani medicine includes the use of many spices, in fact they are the same spices that are commonly used in food preparation.

Please see the “Spices used in Unani medicine” section of The Spice Journal for detailed scientific explanations.