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The Health Benefits of Unani Medicine (Research-Based)

 The Health Benefits of Unani Medicine (Research-Based).

Unani (Yunani) is the traditional alternative medicine that originated in Greece. It is widely practiced in the Indian Subcontinent, South and Central Asia, and some other parts of the globe.
 
The Unani system is based on certain underlying concepts and principles like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and AyurvedaThe Unani system emphasizes prevention as well as treatment. 

Unani is an Arabic word that means Greek. It was founded by Hippocrates, a Greek Physician, who is considered the father of Unani medicine. 


Health benefits of Unani Therapy
Health benefits of Unani 



Unani medicine refers to the knowledge of the human body. It is also known as Tibb-E-Unani/Graeco-Arabic medicine.

Unani is a holistic approach to healing that considers the effects of environmental elements on your body. The environment affects the body and disrupts the humor that ultimately leads to disease. 

About the health benefits of Unani medicine, tons of information available on the internet, but only a few of them are beneficial.

In this article, I will highlight the evidence-based benefits of Unani therapy, along with the methods of diagnosis and treatment.

Before that, get some knowledge about the brief history, basic concepts, and principles of Unani.

Brief History of Unani 

Unani was founded and developed by Hippocrates. Gallen contributed to his work along with other Greek physicians.

Later, Unani medicine (Unani Tibb)was developed by many Arab and Persian Scholars. 

According to Prof. Syed Ziaur Rahman, Co-founder of Ibne Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine & Sciences, Unani medicine evolved right from the Mesopotamian period and the Babylonian period.

It was developed further in the Egyptian civilization. Then, the Greeks adopted some principles of Egyptian medicine.

The evolution of Unani has never been stopped. After the Greeks, the Arabs made a significant contribution to the progress of Unani.

In fact, the Perso-Arabic system of medicines is based on the theories of Hippocrates and Galen. Thus, Greek medical science became the basis for the development of Arabic medicine.

They contributed a lot to develop and expand the Unani system. They translate the Greek medical literature into Arabic. As a result, Unani flourished since the time of the Arab Caliphs.

In India, the Unani system entered through the Arab and Persian. In other words, The Arabs introduced the Unani system in India.

The then sultans (rulers) patronized the scholars of the Unani system. Since then, Unani medicine has been encouraged in India by various rulers.

In the post-independence period, the Unani system and other Indian medical systems developed under the patronage of the Indian Government.

The Government of India has taken various steps for the overall development of the Unani system that includes:

  • Separate enactment to regulate and promote education and training 
  • research institute,
  • laboratories, 
  • the regulations for the manufacture and practice of medicines.
Hospitals, educational institutes, and research institutions become an integral part of the national healthcare delivery system.

Apart from the Indian Subcontinent, Unani medicines are widely practiced in Arabian and Middle East countries, China, Mongolia, and many other parts of the world.

Are Ayurveda and Unani Same?

No. Ayurveda and Unani are two separate branches of Alternative medicine.
Ayurveda originated in India, whereas Unani originated in Greece.

But, some sorts of similarities exist.
 
The basic concepts like the concept of elements, energies, and the balancing principle of Unani are very close to Ayurveda.

Fundamental Principles/Concepts

According to practitioners of Unani medicine (Hakims), human health is maintained by the harmonious organization of the basic psychological principles (Umoor at-Tabiyah). 

Unani Medicine (Unani Tabb) emphasizes lifestyle management for the maintenance of health. It considers diet, lifestyle, emotions, and spiritual factors.

So, they rely on the principles of harmonizing and balancing the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects and thus emphasizes the natural healing system based on certain fundamental principles and concepts.

The Principle of 7 Components.

The human body is composed of 7 components. These components are:
  1. Elements (Arkan)
  2. Temperament (Mizaj)
  3. Humors (Akhlat)
  4. Organs and Organic Systems(Aada/Azza)
  5. Vital Spirit (Arwah)
  6. Powers Quwa)
  7. Functions (Afaal).
Now, I'm going to describe each component one by one.

1. Elements (Arkan)

The human body consists of 4 elements- Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. 
Each element has its own temperament or Mizaj. 

The temperament corresponding to each element is as follows:
  1. The Temperament of Earth is Cold and Dry
  2. The Temperament of Air is Hot and Moist
  3. The Temperament of Water is Cold and Moist
  4. The Temperament of Fire is Cold and Dry. 

2. Temperament (Mizaj)

The temperament of each individual is unique and is the result of the interaction of the 4 elements. 

Your temperament may be equitable or inequitable depending upon the distribution/balancing of the elements.

3.  Humor (Akhlat)

The Unani system is based on the Hippocrates theory of four body humors -
that refers to the types of fluids in your body. 

It is essential to understand the Humoral theory as it is the basis of the Unani system. 

According to the 4-humor theory, your body consists of four types of humors. 
These are-
  1. Blood [Dam]
  2. Phlegm [Baigham]
  3. Yellow Biles [Safra] 
  4. Black Biles [Sauda].
Each humor 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.
 

4.  Organs (Aada/Aaza)

The overall health of your body depends upon the individual health status of each organ. In other words, the condition of each organ affects the state of health of your entire body.

5.  Vital Spirit (Arwah)

Ar-Ruh or spirit is considered as the life force and the source of vitality of all organs. 

Ruh or soul or spirit (Arwah-plural) is the gaseous substance derived from the inspired air.

Thus, the spirit helps the metabolic functions of your body.

6.  Powers/Faculties (Quwa)

Unani considers the existence of three types of power. These are- 

Natural power (Quwa Tabiyah)

Natural power is the power of metabolism and reproduction.
It is associated with the liver. 
It is responsible for nutrition and the growth of the human body. The process is carried on in every tissue of the body.

Psychic power (Quwa Nafsaniyah)

Psychic power is the nervous power that's located inside the brain and conveys impressions or sensations.

Vital power (Quwa Haywaniyah)

Vital power is responsible for maintaining life and is located in the heart. 
It helps to enable all the organs to accept the outcome of psychic power and keeps the tissues active.

7. Functions (Afaal) 

Afaal refers to the movements and functions of all the organs of the body. 
For a healthy body, the different organs maintain their proper shape and perform their respective functions.

Prevention in Unani

Unani emphasizes the prevention and the cure. In Unani, the interactions with the environmental factors, both external and internal, are also considered. 

Examples of internal factors are - sleep and wakefulness, movement and rest, etc.
 
External factors refer to climatic changes, the purity of air, food & drinks, etc.

There are 6 essential pre-requisite for prevention in the Unani System.   


 These are-

1. Air

The quality of the air you breathe has an impact on your health. The pollution-free fresh air helps to lead a healthy life. 

2. Food and drinks

Unani examines the quality and quantity of food you eat and the purity of the water you drink. 

You may be interested in reading about the Health Benefits of Green Tea.

3. Bodily movement and response

The movement of your body and physical exercise have a positive effect on your health.

4. Psychic movement and response 

The human mind to be engaged in various intellectual and emotional activities vis a vis a rest. Just like your body, the mind needs works and rest.

5. Sleep and wakefulness 

Unani emphasizes sound sleep to ensure physical and mental wellness.  Sleep and wakefulness are considered essential for good health in Unani. 

Adequate sleep offers physical and mental rest and the deficit of it causes weakness, both physical and mental.

6. Evacuation and retention 

Proper functioning of the excretory processes is necessary for maintaining good health. It is essential to remove harmful elements from the body.

Any disturbance in the excretory process leads to diseases or sickness. 

Diagnosis Process in Unani

Diagnosis is made based on observation and physical examination. 
 
Any sickness or disease is regarded as the result of- 

  • the body-making stuff/materials, 
  • kind of temperament, 
  • the structure of faculties or power, and 
  • some external environmental factors. 

Diagnosis involves a thorough investigation of the causes of the disease

Pulse (Nabz) reading, the examination of the urine and stool, and other conventional methods such as inspection, palpitation, percussion, and occultation are also used for diagnosis.

Methods of Unani Treatment (Therapy)

There are 4 main types of therapies commonly practiced by Unani practitioners. 

These are-
  • Regimental therapy (Ilaj-bil-Tadbeer)
  • Dietotherapy (Ilaj-bil-Ghiza)
  • Pharmacotherapy (Ilaj-bil-Dawa)
  • Surgery (Ilaj-bil-Yad).

Regimental therapy in the Unani System

Regimental therapy is a specialized healing process that emphasizes health care and general health maintenance by removing waste products from your body. It improves the body's immune system and ensures the protection of health. 

Ibne-Sina, the eminent Unani Scholar, has mentioned 36 regimes in his famous book Canon of Medicine. 

Out of these 16, I'll describe the 10 important methods here.

10 Essential Techniques/Methods of Regimental Therapy 

  1. Venesection (Fasd)
  2. Cupping (Al-hijama)
  3. Sweating (Ta'reeq)
  4. Diuresis (Idrar-e-Baul)
  5. Cupping (Al-hijama)
  6. Turkish bath (Hamam)
  7. Exercise (Riyazat)
  8. Purging (Ishal)
  9. Vomiting (Qai)
  10. Massage(Malish)

Health Benefits of Each method of Regimental Therapy in Unani Medicine:

1.Venesection/Phlebotomy Method 

Venesection or Fasd is the classical method of healing in the Unani. It emphasizes the balancing of blood and other bodily fluids and the restoration of imbalance. 

The Venesection method is used when excess blood is found in the body.

It is useful in the following cases:

  • Relieve high blood pressure and Correction of blood-related problems 
  • Prevention of toxicity and accumulation of waste matter in the blood
  • Excretion of waste matters from the body
  • Boosting metabolic processes
  • Correction of the hot element in the temperament
  • Cure of certain menstrual disorders.

2. Cupping( Hejamah) Method 

Cupping or Hejamah therapy is an ancient method used in Unani to promote blood flow while treating ailments. 

As a result of thousands of years of clinical experience, it is well documented. The cupping method is used to treat several chronic diseases. 

Although it is widely practiced across the world, the existence of improper practices is there.

This therapeutic method is used for:
  • Cleaning the skin of waste products.
  • Prevent excess menstruation or epistaxis.
  • Correcting liver diseases.
  • Treating malaria and spleen disorders.
  • Treating hemorrhoids, uterine inflammation, itching, boils, etc.

3. Sweating/Diaphoresis (Ta'reeq/Tariq)

Sweating is the process of releasing the liquid from the sweat glands.

The purposes of sweating include purification, reduction of the excessive hit, and the excretion of waste materials from the skin, blood, and other parts of your body.  

The procedures include hot fomentation bathing with lukewarm water, keeping you in a room with hot air, etc.

Sweating helps your body stay cool.

4. Diuresis (Idrar-e-Baul) 

This process in regimental therapy is used to evacuate and excrete poisonous substances of the body through urine.
 
This is the process of using some non-medical methods and diuretic medicines. 
It is applied for strengthening the functions of the heart, liver, and lung. 

It is used to cure some heart disease, hypertension, pulmonary disease, and renal disorders.

5. Turkish Bath/Therapeutic Bath (Hamam)

Bath or Hammam is another vital method of Ilaj-bil-Tadbeer or regimental therapy of Unani.
 
This method is used to heal some common diseases through several types of baths such as Sun Bath, Oil Bath, Mustard Bath, Sea Bath, Sand Bath, and so on.

The health benefits of the Bath technique include the following:

  • it increases metabolism
  • it enhances the inner heat of your body
  • it helps evacuate waste materials through the skin
  • hammam is effective for healing skin diseases
  • it is useful for relieving cervical and lumbar spondylosis
  • it is effective in treating paralysis.

6. Exercise (Riyazat) 

Riyazat or exercise is considered a vital part of regimental therapy in Unani. 

It is the process of repetitive movement of your body to maintain physical fitness and overall health. It is also applied for the treatment of some diseases.

Regular exercise helps boost the immune system and prevent various diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorder, obesity.

In Unani, exercise is considered useful to reduce depression and anxiety.

Physical exercise is of great importance for the maintenance of good health and the treatment of certain diseases. 

It is said to be good for the stomach and for strengthening digestion. There are rules, times, and conditions for different types of exercises.

7. Purging (Ishal)

In Unani treatment, purgatives are widely used for intestinal evacuation. Purgation is a safe method of eliminating toxic elements through the intestines.  

It is a specialized technique of cleansing which helps easy bowel movements. 
Purgation increases the frequency of bowel movements by lubricating the intestines. 

This method influences the normal metabolic process. 

8. Vomiting (Qai/Emesis)

Emetics are used to treat the following ailments-
headaches,
migraines, 
tonsillitis, 
bronchopneumonia, 
and bronchial asthma. 

Qai also cures some kind of mental disorder.

Qai is useful to improve vision, weight gain, and proper digestion
Further, it is considered to be the best method for the excretion of some specific types of wastes from the liver and stomach.

9. Leech (Irsal-e-Alaq)

Leech therapy is a method of blood-letting and a blood-sucking process with the help of medicinal leeches for the prevention and treatment of several diseases.

Leech therapy(Hirudo therapy) is often advised by Unani practitioners in those areas of the body where other processes of blood-letting such as venesection and cupping are not possible. 

Leech is one of the widely practiced methods of regimental therapy. This is used for the local evacuation of morbid humors from the body.

The purpose of Leech therapy is to maintaining overall health and well-being.

It has anti-inflammatory effects and helps improve the blood circulation in the organs.

Leech therapy is often used to reduce various sorts of pain, such as headache, sinusitis, and knee pain.
 
This method is used to treat chronic skin diseases, eye diseases, stiffness, Varicose vein, osteoarthritis, and more.

Massage (Malish/Dalak)


Massage or Dalak is the planned method or systematic process of manipulating the tissues by hands or with the help of devices. 

The process involves creating some pressure on different parts of your body, such as fingers, elbows, forearms, knees, feet, hips, etc.

Unani physicians recommend different types of massage according to the diseases-condition, such as hard or soft massage.

Furthermore, prolonged, short, or moderate duration massages are used according to the requirement.

Massage therapy is useful for the relaxation of the body and mind. 

It is also used to relieve symptoms like tension, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, etc.

It is also useful to treat several kinds of chronic pain, including headache, backache, muscle pain, arthritis pain, and more.

Dietotherapy/Diet therapy Ilaj-bil-Ghiza

Dietotherapy or Ilaj-bil-Ghiza emphasizes the maintenance of health as well as the cure of ailments through diet. 

For good health a balanced diet is essential. The quantity and quality of food are recommended by the Unani practitioners as per the conditions of Mizaj.

Pharmacotherapy (Ilaj-bil-Dawa)

Pharmacotherapy or Ilaj-bil-Dawa is the process of treating diseases through Unani medicines or drugs.

Pharmacotherapy involves the use of nature-based drugs like herbal medicines. Drugs are also prepared with the substance of animals and minerals. 

According to the doctrine of Unani medicine, various drugs have their own temperament. 

The temperament of the drug is considered while recommendation, along with the temperament of the patient.
 
The medicines or drugs help to accelerate the process of recovery and also eliminating the risk of reaction. 

Surgery (Ilaj-bil-Yad)

Surgery involves special techniques and the application of surgical instruments. It is an ancient practice in Unani therapy.

Arabian Unani physicians have been experts in surgery since ancient times. 

Besides, they wrote many books on the rules and procedures of surgery.

The Arabian physician Abu al-Qasim-al-Zahrawi was the greatest surgeon at that time. 

He invented a wide range of instruments for surgery and illustrated all with care in his writings. 

A few of those instruments are forceps, pincers, scalpels, catheters, cauteries, lancets, and specula. 
 
He described the techniques and procedures of surgery in his famous book ''Kitab-al-Tasrif''.

His encyclopedia of surgery was used as standard reference work in the subject in all the universities of Europe for over five hundred years.

Role of Unani medicine in the prevention and cure of Lifestyle Diseases.

Unani System can prevent and cure several lifestyle diseases or Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The following statistics published in the American Journal of Ethnomedicine, which is the concern for the health of mankind.

According to WHO, NCDs kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70% of the total global deaths. 

NCD deaths are projected to increase to 52 million by 2030 (from 38 million in 2012), with an estimated 10.4 million deaths in South East Asia. 

Around 42% of all NCD deaths globally occurred within the age of 70 years. 

Further, 48% of NCD deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries and 28% in high-income countries.

CVDs account for most NCD deaths globally, i.e. 17.7 million people annually, followed by Cancers (8.8 million), Respiratory diseases (3.9million), and Diabetes (1.6 million).

Education and Research

The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) monitors the higher education of Unani. The CCIM is a statutory body under the Department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy).  

The Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) also aids and co-ordinates scientific research in the Unani system of medicine.
 

Limitations of Unani Therapy

The research documents on Unani and the trial on humans are still inadequate. 
The methodology of research is yet to be standardized.

Some unethical practices observed despite there are standard rules and regulations for practicing Unani.

Although the Unani system has a long history and has the recognition of the World Health Organisation(WHO) as a CAM (complementary and alternate medicine, development is needed in the areas of research and development of Unani medicine [Tibb].

Conclusion

In the present scenario of the polluted environment, people are compelled to use contaminated food and drinks.

Eventually, they are suffering from digestive disorders, obesity, diabetes, and many complicated diseases. 

People's interest in holistic medicine is increasing day by day Worldwide. The increasing popularity of herbs like Cordyceps Sinensis, Spirulina, Gymnema Sylvestre, and Moringa Oleifera is remarkable 

The Unani system can make a huge contribution to the health of mankind by improving the quality of research and infrastructural development. 


References:

Medicalcloudjournals http://medical.cloudjournals.com/index.php/IJAAYUSH/article/view/Med-118

https://vikaspedia.in/health/ayush/unani

http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/14958/1/IJTK%2011%284%29%20738-744.pdf

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