What is Unani Medicine?
Unani medicine is a branch of alternative medicine which attempts to discover the best possible ways by which an individual can lead a completely healthy life without any illness or sickness. Unani medicine originates from Greece and it means "Greek Medicine." Unani medicine is founded on the teachings of Hippocrates who was a Greek physician. Hakim Ibn Sina (recognized as Avicenna in the west) established Unani medicine as a healing system in his medical encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine. The Unani medicine uses medicines, dietary changes, drinks and other regimens such as codes of conduct which contribute to maintaining and promoting good health and in preventing and curing of diseases. Unani medicine believes that by using clean and fresh water, breathing pure and clean air and eating fresh food, many diseases can be prevented. Similarly, there should be a balance between the body and mind to enable easy metabolic processes and elimination of waste products from the body. Unani medicine, which is a branch of alternative medicine, is based on the concept of four humors, namely:
- Balgham (Phlegm).
- Dam (Blood).
- Ṣafrā' (Yellow bile).
- Saudā' (Black bile).
The ability of the human body to defend itself and maintain a proper balance of these humors is called as Quwwat-e-Mudabbira (Medicatrix Naturae). Unani medicines aid the body in regaining this balance. The balance of these 4 humors in the body leads to health, whereas any imbalance or alterations in these humors causes diseases and sometimes even death.
According to Unani medicine, the fundamental composition of the body is categorized into seven main groups. These seven natural and basic components are known as 'Umoor-e-Tabiya,' and are responsible for maintaining a person's health.
The 7 Basic Components of Unani Medicine Are:
- Arkan (elements)
- Mizaj (temperament)
- Akhlaat (humors)
- Aaza (organs)
- Arwah (vital forces or spirits)
- Quwa (faculties)
- Afaal (functions)
The Unani system of medicine involves many therapeutic procedures such as venesection, turkish bath, massage, leeching, exercise and cupping among others. In case of musculoskeletal problems such as back pain and arthritis, treatment is done by application of heat, cold and suction cups. Rarely, in case of acute and serious diseases, treatment is done by puncturing specific reflex points and releasing few drops of blood. Dietotherapy is another form of treatment done in Unani which comprises of implementing certain diets or alteration in the quality and quantity of food to regain health. In pharmacotherapy, drugs obtained from plant and mineral sources are administered.
A Unani physician (hakim) starts with a mild dosage in the initial stages of the treatment. The patient is also instructed to adhere to certain restrictions in diet and lifestyle. The diagnosis is done by the Unani physician by feeling the pulse (nabz). The alterations or changes in a pulse are felt by the fingers to find out which humor is dominant or imbalanced and helps in the diagnosis. Other methods which help in diagnosis are urine and stool examination. The color and viscosity of the urine and stool is examined and diagnosis is made on that basis.