Unani medicine is a very old system of healing. There are many elements and threads in the Unani system that can be traced back to before the Christian Era and some trace them back to Hippocrates. However, the beginning of Unani as a healing system is attributed to Hakim Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) in the 10th century in Persia. The word ‘Unani’ means ‘Greek’ in Arabic, Persian and many other languages. The Unani system is in vogue in Asia and is practiced widely in the Arabic region and the Indian subcontinent.
 Basic Tenets
According to the Unani system there are four humours in the body: dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile), a parallel to kapha, vata and pitta, the three doshas in Ayurveda. Health and disease depend on the equilibrium or imbalance between the four humours. In the Unani system, the physician’s job is to aid the natural forces of the body in combating a disease. He starts the treatment with a thorough examination of the pulse to determine which humour is dominant at the time. He then examines the urine and stool, scrutanising their colour, taste, viscosity among other things. A few Unani physicians check the blood pressure and use stethoscopes to study heart beats.
 Six factors of Disease
Avicenna set forth six primary factors which are evaluated in depth to discern the cause of a disease:
- the air of one's environment;
- food and beverages;
- movement and rest;
- sleep and wakefulness;
- evacuation and eating; and
At the heart of Avicenna's therapeutics is the importance he placed on food and diet. Avicenna writes: "Most illnesses arise solely from long-continued errors of diet and regimen." My teacher Hakim Sherif was fond of summing up Unani with two pithy remarks: "The stomach is the home of illness; diet is the main medicine."
Foods are said to be either 'hot' (garm) or 'cool' (sard). Foods that are sard, or cooling, place severe burdens on the body:
- they are harder to digest (initial breakdown in mouth and stomach);
- they are harder to assimilate (absorption of micro-nutrients into the blood stream and cells); and
- consequently, they leave a greater residue of superfluous waste products.
 Different Therapies
The treatment of diseases in Unani medicine has the following components:
Regimental Therapy - It includes venesection, diuresis, turkish bath, massage, cauterisation, purging, emesis, exercise and leeching.
Dietotherapy - It deals with certain ailments by administration of specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food.
Pharmacotherapy - It deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs mostly herbal drugs of animal and mineral origin. Single drugs or their combination in raw form are preferred over compound formulations.
 What Can Unani Treat?
Unani is found very effective in treating chronic diseases like arthritis, asthma, mental, cardiac and digestive disorders, urinal infections, and sexual diseases. Diabetes in its early stages is fully curable using Unani. Recent research has proved that Unani medicines also treats diseases like malaria, hepatitis B, leukoderma and skin problems and increases the immunity levels in AIDS patients. Research reveals that children with cerebral palsy showed marked improvement in movement as well as cognitive levels after being treated with Unani medicine. Unani medicines promise permanent and effective cure of all sexual disorders and ailments including sterility in women and that too without harmful side-effects.
- Unani Herbal Healing
- Department of Ayurveda
- Unani Herbalist
- Life Positive