Unani-tibb or Unani Medicine also spelled Yunani Medicine (pronounced; Yunani in Arabic, Hindi-Urdu and Persian) means “Greek Medicine”, and is a form of traditional medicine widely practiced in South Asia. It refers to a tradition of Graeco-Arabic medicine, which is based on the teachings of Greek physician Hippocrates, and Roman physician Galen, and developed in to an elaborate medical System by Arab and Persian physicians, such as Rhazes, Avicenna (Ibn Sena), Al-Zahrawi, Ibn Nafis.

Unani medicine is based around the concepts of the four humours: Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam), Yellow bile (?afra’) and Black bile (Sauda’).

According to Unani medicine, management of any disease depends on the cause, aggravating factors, pathogenesis, pathology, and clinical manifestations. Any cause and or factor are countered by Quwwate mudabbire badan (the power of body responsible to maintain health) the failing of which may lead to quantitatively or qualitatively derangement of the normal equilibrium of akhlat (humors) of body which constitute the tissues and organs. This abnormal humor leads to pathological changes in the tissues anatomically and physiologically at the affected site of the body and exhibits the clinical manifestations.

After diagnosing the disease, Usoole ilaj (principle of management) of disease is determined on the basis of etiology on the following pattern.

  • I – Izalae sabab (elimination of cause)
  • II- Tadeele akhlat (normalization of humors)
  • III- Tadeele aza (normalization of tissues/organs.

For the purpose of fulfillment of requirements of principle of management, mode of treatment is decided as per the Unani medicine which may be one or more of the following.

  • I- Ilaj bil ghiza (diet therapy) – Alteration of food is used as a therapeutics
  • II- Ilaj bil tadbeer (regimental therapy) – One or more regime; dalak, riyazat, hammam, taleeq, takmeed, hajamat, fasad, lakhlakha, bakhur etc. used for treatment.
  • III- Ilaj bil advia (pharmacotherapy) – For this purpose Mamulate matab nuskha (prescription) is formulated which contain the single and or compound Unani drugs having desired actions as per requirements.

In India, there are forty (40) Unani Medical Colleges where Unani System of medicine is taught, in five and half year courses and the graduates are awarded BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery). There are about 8 Unani medical Colleges where a Postgraduate degree is being awarded to BUMS Doctors. All these colleges are affiliated to reputed universities and recognized by the Governments.

As an alternative form of medicine, Unani has found favor in India. These Unani practitioners can practice as qualified doctors in India, as the government approves their practice. Unani medicine is very close to Ayurveda. Both are based on theory of the presence of the elements (in Unani, they are considered to be fire, water, earth and air) in the human body. (The elements, attributed to the philosopher Empedocles, determined the way of thinking in Medieval Europe.) According to followers of Unani medicine, these elements are present in different fluids and their balance leads to health and their imbalance leads to illness.


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