Historical Background Of Unani System Of Medicine

historical background

What is the Historical Background?

The Unani system of medicine has a rich historical background that dates back to ancient times. It has its roots in the teachings of Hippocrates (460-377 BCE), who is considered the father of medicine, and Galen (129-200 CE), a prominent Greek physician. However, the Unani system as we know it today evolved and flourished primarily in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages.

historical background

Unveiling the Tapestry: A Historical Exploration of Unani Medicine

The Unani System of Medicine as its name suggests, owes its immediate origin to ancient Greece(Yunan).Since the Greek adopted Medicine of Egypt ,the roots of this system go to Egypt and its sister civilization Mesopotamia. It was father adopted by the Arabs, was the developed and improved tremendously by them. In Indian subcontinent, Unani System of Medicine achieved marked growth enriching its practice even in Middle East and Central Asia and successfully applied its principle to the local geo human environment to become one of the major traditional systems of medicine in the area.

Unani medicine, a holistic system of healing practiced in South Asia for centuries, boasts a rich and multifaceted history. Its journey intertwined with the intellectual tapestry woven by ancient Greeks, Arabs, Persians, and Indians, offering a glimpse into the evolution of medical thought and practice.

historical background

Greek Seeds: The Hippocratic Foundation

The seeds of Unani medicine were sown in ancient Greece. The venerated physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC) laid the groundwork by emphasizing a rational approach to medicine, separating it from the realm of superstition and magic. He proposed the theory of four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile – believed to govern human physiology and temperament. This humeral theory became a cornerstone of Unani medicine.

historical background

Arabian Cultivation: The Golden Age of Unani

Unani medicine truly flourished during the Islamic Golden Age (7th-13th centuries AD). Arab scholars and physicians like Rhazes (850-925 AD) and Avicenna (980-1037 AD) built upon the Hippocratic foundation. They translated and assimilated Greek medical knowledge into Arabic, enriching it with their own observations and experiments.

Avicenna, also known as Ibn Sina, stands as a towering figure in Unani history. His magnum opus, “The Canon of Medicine,” became a foundational text, outlining medical theories, diagnosis, and treatment based on the humeral theory. This comprehensive work influenced medical practice across the world for centuries.

historical background

Eastward Bound: Unani Takes Root in India

Unani medicine arrived in India around the 8th century AD through trade routes and the migration of Arab scholars.  The system resonated with existing Indian medical practices, finding fertile ground for adaptation and further development.

Cross-pollination: A Fusion of Traditions

Unani medicine readily absorbed influences from existing Indian medical systems like Ayurveda.  Concepts like the balance of three vital energies (vata, pitta, and kapha) found parallels in the humeral theory, leading to a fascinating cross-pollination of ideas.

Mughal Patronage: Unani’s Heyday

The 13th to 17th centuries witnessed the golden age of Unani medicine in India. Mughal emperors, with their keen interest in science and medicine, actively patronized Unani scholars and physicians.  Hospitals were established, and royal courts employed Unani practitioners, fostering the growth and refinement of the system.

Colonial Encounters: Challenges and Resilience

The arrival of the British Raj in the 18th century ushered in a period of decline for Unani medicine. Western medicine, with its emphasis on scientific advancements, gained prominence. However, Unani medicine continued to be practiced in villages and towns, demonstrating remarkable resilience.


Modern Resurgence: Reviving an Ancient Tradition

In recent decades, there has been a renewed interest in traditional medicine systems like Unani.  Research is being conducted to explore the efficacy of Unani therapies and integrate them with modern healthcare practices.

Unani medicine stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of cross-cultural exchange in the field of healthcare.  Its historical journey, marked by the intellectual contributions of Greeks, Arabs, Persians, and Indians, offers valuable insights into the evolution of medical thought. As scientific evaluation and integration with modern medicine progress, Unani medicine holds the potential to contribute significantly to holistic healthcare in the 21st century.

At last As a Unani Doctor I can say, After this the Unani System of Medicine come to Indian subcontinent in the eighth century by the Arabs and Iranians, and developed as a comprehensive medical system due to multi -pronged original contribution and new applications by scholars of Successive generations.

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