Fundamentals of the Unani System of Medicine: Exploring the Essence

Fundamental of the Unani

What is Unani Medicine?

Unani medicine, a traditional medical system with roots in ancient Greece, has thrived for centuries.  While often overshadowed by its more widely recognized counterparts, Unani offers a unique perspective on health and well-being, emphasizing a holistic approach centered on the body’s inherent healing mechanisms. Delving into its core principles unveils a system that resonates with modern-day healthcare concerns.

Fundamental of the Unani

What is the Fundamentals of the Unani System?

The fundamentals of the Unani system of medicine are rooted in ancient philosophical principles and concepts that guide its approach to health and healing. Central to Unani medicine are the following key elements:

Humoral Theory:

The Unani system is based on the humoral theory, which suggests that the human body is composed of four primary fluids or humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Health is believed to depend on the balance and equilibrium of these humors within the body.

Principles of Treatment:

Unani medicine follows certain principles of treatment aimed at restoring the balance of humors in the body. Treatments are personalized according to an individual’s constitution, or Mizaj, which determines their susceptibility to diseases and their response to treatment.

Concept of Mizaj (Temperament):

The concept of Mizaj refers to the inherent temperament or nature of an individual, determined by the predominance of certain humors in their body. Understanding a person’s Mizaj helps in prescribing personalized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs and health concerns.

Diagnostic Methods:

Unani practitioners use various diagnostic methods, including pulse diagnosis (Nadi Pariksha), observation, and patient interviews, to assess the state of the humors and identify imbalances in the body. These methods help in understanding the root cause of diseases and formulating effective treatment strategies.

Treatment Modalities:

Unani medicine employs a range of treatment modalities to restore the balance of humors and promote healing. These include pharmacotherapy using herbal remedies, regimenal therapy (Ilaj bil Tadbeer) such as cupping therapy and massage, and in certain cases, surgical interventions.

Herbal Medicine:

Herbal medicine is a cornerstone of Unani pharmacotherapy, with a wide range of medicinal herbs used to treat various ailments. Herbal remedies are prepared using traditional methods to maintain their potency and efficacy while minimizing side effects.

Dietary Guidelines:

Unani medicine emphasizes the importance of diet in maintaining health and preventing diseases. Dietary recommendations are based on an individual’s Mizaj and include consuming fresh, natural foods and avoiding excessive spices and stimulants.

Preventive Healthcare:

Unani medicine places a strong emphasis on preventive healthcare, advocating for lifestyle modifications, stress management, and regular physical activity to maintain overall well-being and prevent the onset of diseases.

Integration with Modern Medicine:

While rooted in ancient traditions, Unani medicine is increasingly integrating with modern healthcare practices. Collaborative approaches between Unani practitioners and conventional healthcare providers offer patients a broader spectrum of treatment options and improved healthcare outcomes.

The Humoral Theory: A Cornerstone of Unani

Unani philosophy is built upon the concept of four humors: blood (דם dam), phlegm (بلغم balgham), yellow bile (صفراء الصفراء safra الصفراء), and black bile (سوداء sauda). These humors are believed to represent the body’s various physiological functions and maintain a state of equilibrium ( الاعتدال i الاعتدال الاعتدال الاعتدال i’tidal).

Fundamental of the Unani


Associated with warmth and moisture, it governs vitality and growth.


Characterized by coolness and moisture, it is linked to lubrication and structure.

Yellow bile:

Representing warmth and dryness, it supports digestion and metabolism.

Black bile:

Associated with coolness and dryness, it contributes to elimination and detoxification.

An imbalance in these humors, due to factors like dietary choices, environmental influences, or emotional stress, is considered the root cause of disease. Diagnosis in Unani involves identifying the predominant humor causing the imbalance and employing a treatment plan to restore equilibrium.

Principles of Unani Medicine

Unani medicine is guided by several key principles, including the concept of the body’s self-regulating mechanism, the importance of maintaining a balance between the body and the environment, and the belief in the holistic nature of health.

Principles of Treatment

Treatment in Unani medicine is tailored to the individual’s unique constitution, or Mizaj, which determines their susceptibility to diseases and their response to treatment. Therapies may include herbal medicines, dietary modifications, and lifestyle interventions.

Concept of Mizaj (Temperament)

The concept of Mizaj is central to Unani diagnosis and treatment. It refers to the inherent temperament or nature of an individual, which is determined by the predominance of certain humors in their body. Understanding a person’s Mizaj helps in prescribing personalized treatment plans.

Regimen and Regulative Therapy: The Pillars of Unani Practice

Unani emphasizes the significance of a balanced lifestyle (نظام Nizam) in preventing and managing illness. This includes:

Dietary Regimen (تدبير الغذاء Tadbir al-Ghadha):

A core aspect, focusing on consuming foods that promote harmony with the body’s constitution. Spicy or greasy foods might be discouraged for individuals with an excess of yellow bile, while those with imbalanced phlegm might be advised to limit intake of dairy products.

Exercise and Movement (الرياضة al-Riyada):

Regular physical activity is encouraged to maintain a healthy metabolism and eliminate waste products.

Psychological Well-being (الصحة النفسية al-Sihha al-Nafsaniyya):

Stress management techniques like meditation and maintaining positive social connections are seen as crucial for overall health.

Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Interventions

Unani medicine utilizes a vast Materia Medica comprising herbal remedies, minerals, and animal products. These natural substances are believed to possess specific properties that can influence the humoral balance.

Herbal Remedies:

A cornerstone of Unani treatment, plants are used in various forms like decoctions, infusions, and pastes. Commonly used herbs include turmeric (known for its anti-inflammatory properties) and fenugreek (known for aiding digestion).


Certain minerals like purified sulfur (known for its detoxifying effects) and zinc (known for immune system support) may be incorporated into formulations based on the diagnosed imbalance.

Animal Products:

Historically, some animal-based ingredients were used. However, with growing ethical concerns and the availability of effective alternatives, the focus in contemporary Unani practice leans towards plant-based remedies.

Unani in the Modern Medical Landscape

While Unani medicine predates modern scientific advancements, its emphasis on a holistic approach resonates with current trends in healthcare.

Focus on Prevention:

The system’s preventive measures through dietary and lifestyle modifications align with the growing emphasis on preventative healthcare.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM):

Unani principles can potentially complement conventional treatment approaches for specific conditions.

Integration and the Future of Unani

Extensive research is crucial to validate the efficacy of various Unani practices and integrate them effectively into the mainstream medical system. Collaborations between Unani practitioners and conventional medical professionals can pave the way for:

Clinical trials:

Rigorous scientific studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of Unani therapies for specific health concerns.

Standardization of formulations:

Ensuring consistent quality and safety of herbal remedies is essential for wider acceptance.

Education and awareness:

Promoting a deeper understanding of Unani principles among healthcare professionals and the public can foster informed decision-making.

Unani medicine offers a time-tested approach to health and well-being, emphasizing the inherent healing power of the body. By acknowledging its core principles, exploring its therapeutic potential through scientific evaluation, and fostering collaboration with modern medicine, Unani can contribute significantly to a more comprehensive and holistic healthcare landscape.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is Unani medicine safe?

Unani medicine emphasizes the use of natural remedies and holistic approaches to health, which are generally considered safe when prescribed by qualified practitioners. However, as with any form of healthcare, it is essential to consult with a qualified Unani physician and disclose any existing medical conditions or medications to ensure safe and effective treatment.

How does Unani medicine differ from modern medicine?

Unani medicine differs from modern medicine in its philosophical foundations, diagnostic methods, and treatment modalities. While modern medicine relies heavily on scientific evidence and technological advancements, Unani medicine is rooted in ancient theories of humoral balance and emphasizes personalized care using natural remedies and lifestyle interventions.

Can Unani medicine treat chronic diseases?

Unani medicine offers holistic approaches to managing chronic diseases by addressing underlying imbalances and promoting the body’s self-healing mechanisms. While it may not provide a cure for all conditions, Unani interventions can help alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and support overall well-being when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Is Unani medicine recognized by regulatory authorities?

In countries where Unani medicine is practiced, efforts are underway to establish regulatory frameworks to ensure quality standards, safety, and efficacy of Unani products and practices. Regulatory bodies oversee the licensing of practitioners, quality control of herbal medicines, and integration of Unani healthcare into mainstream healthcare systems.

How can I find a qualified Unani practitioner?

To find a qualified Unani practitioner, it is essential to seek recommendations from trusted sources, such as healthcare professionals, friends, or family members who have had positive experiences with Unani medicine. Additionally, online directories and professional associations may provide listings of licensed Unani physicians in your area.

We know that The Unani System of Medicine is successful in providing holistic treatment i.e. Redical Cure without significant adverse effects. Further it is easy to practice and always produces the reported effects.

Historical Background Of Unani System Of Medicine

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