Unani-tibb or Unani Medicine also spelled Yunani Medicine (play /juːˈnɑːni/; Yūnānī 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,[1][2] which is based on the teachings of Greek physician Hippocrates, and Roman physician Galen, and developed into an elaborate medical System by Arab, Afghans and Persian physicians, such as Rhazes, Avicenna (Ibn Sena), Al-Zahrawi, Ibn Nafis.[3]

Unani medicine is based around the concepts of the four humours: Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam), Yellow bile (Ṣafrā') and Black bile (Saudā').[4][5]



The word Unani or Yunani has its origins in the Greek word Ἰωνία (Iōnía) or Ἰωνίη (Iōníe), a place name given to a Greek populated coastal region of Anatolia.


Though the threads which comprise Unani healing can be traced all the way back to Claudius Galenus of Pergamum, who lived in the second century of the Christian Era and also to Ancient Iranian Medicine, the basic knowledge of Unani medicine as a healing system was developed by Hakim Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna in the west) in his medical encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine.[6][7] The time of origin is thus dated at circa 1025 AD, when Avicenna wrote The Canon of Medicine in Persia. While he was primarily influenced by Greek and Islamic medicine, he was also influenced by the Indian medical teachings of Sushruta and Charaka.[8][9]

Unani medicine first arrived in India around 12-13 century CE with establishment of Delhi Sultanate (1206-1527 CE) and Muslim rule over North India and subsequently flourished under Mughal Empire.[4][5] Alauddin Khilji (r. 1296-1316) had several eminent Unani physicians (Hakims) in his royal courts[10] In the coming year this royal patronage meant development of Unani practice in India, but also of Unani literature with the aid of Indian Ayurvedic physicians.[3][11]


Fortunately, Unani classical literature consists of thousands of books across the world, contains vast knowledge and mention of experiences on all aspects of medicine. According to Unani medicine, management of any disease depends upon the diagnosis of disease.In the diagnosis,clinical features i.e. signs, symptoms,laboratory features and mizaj( temperament)are important.

Any cause and or factor is countered by Quwwat-e- mudabbira-e- 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.

  • Izalae sabab (elimination of cause)
  • Tadeele akhlat (normalization of humors)
  • 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.

  • Ilaj- bil- tadbeer wa Ilaj-Bil-Ghiza (regimenal therapy) -The disease may be treated by the modification of six essential pre-requisites of health(Asbab-e- Sitta Zarooriya in Unani Tibbi terminology).This method of treatment is called as Ilaj- Bil-Tadbeer.Asbab-e-Sitta Zarooriya may be modified by the use of One or more regimens i.e. dalak, riyazat, hammam, taleeq, takmeed, hijamat, fasd, lakhlakha, bakhur,Abzan,Shamoomat(Aromatherapy),Pashoya,Idrar,Ishal,Qai,Tareeq,Elam,Laza-e-Muqabil, Imalah and alteration of foods.According to the norms of C.C.I.M. New Delhi, Department of Ilaj-Bil-Tadbeer has been established in almost all Unani Tibbi Colleges of India.In the State Unani Medical College,Allahabad,U.P. and State Takmeel-Ul-Tibb College,Lucknow ,Department of Ilaj-Bil-Tadbeer is known as Moalijat Khususi.Moaliajt Khususi is the old nomenclature of Ilaj-Bil-Tadbeer,suggested by C.C.I.M. New Delhi.Ilaj-Bil-Tadbeer is synonym to Panchkarma in Ayurveda.
  • 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.
  • Ilaj-Bil-Yad (Surgery)

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(Mahir-e-Tib & Mahir Jarahat) 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 approve 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.

All these elaborations were built on the basic Hippocratic theory of the four humours. The theory postulates the presence of blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile in the human body. Each person's unique mixture of these substances determines his Mizaj(Temperament). a predominance of blood gives a sanguine temperament; a predominance of phlegm makes one phlegmatic; yellow bile, bilious (or choleric); and black bile, melancholic. Whan these humours are in balance, the human system is healthy and whan it is imbalance which can result in disease.

In India, the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) a statutory body established in 1971 under Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, monitors higher education in areas of Indian medicine including, Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.[12] To fight biopiracy and unethical patents, the Government of India, in 2001, set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library as repository of formulations of various systems of Indian medicine, includes 98,700 Unani formulations.[13][14] Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) [15] established in 1979, also under AYUSH, aids and co-ordinates scientific research in Unani System of Medicine through a network of 22 nationwide research Institutes and Units, including two Central Research Institutes of Unani Medicine, at Hyderabad and Lucknow, eight Regional Research Institutes at Chennai, Bhadrak, Patna, Aligarh, Mumbai, Srinagar, Kolkata and New Delhi, six Clinical Research Units at Allahabad, Bangalore, Karimganj, Meerut, Bhopal and Burhanpur, four Drug Standardisation Research Units at New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Lucknow, a Chemical Research Unit at Aligarh, a Literary Research Institute at New Delhi.[16]

Safety issues

According to WHO, "Pharmacovigilance activities are done to monitor detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of any obnoxious adverse reactions to drugs at therapeutic concentration that is used or is intended to be used to modify or explore physiological system or pathological states for the benefit of recipient." These drugs may be any substance or product including herbs, minerals, etc. for animals and human beings and can even be that prescribed by practitioners of Unani or ayurvedic system of medicine. In recent days, awareness has been created related to safety and adverse drug reaction monitoring of herbal drugs including Unani drugs.[17]

Notable Unani institutions

  • Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine,India.
  • Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences,India.
  • National Institute of Unani Medicine, (Government of India)
  • A&U Tibbia College, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, (Government of N.C.T. Delhi),India.
  • Faculty of Unani Medicine, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi,India.
  • Ajmal Khan Tibbia College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh,U.P.India.
  • Government Nizamia Tibbi College and Hospital, Hyderabad, A.P.India.
  • Anjuman-i- Islam's Tibbia College and Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
  • ZVM Unani College and Hospital, Pune, M.S.India.
  • State Takmeel-ut-tib College and hospital, Lucknow, U.P.(Government of U.P.).India.
  • State Unani Medical College & H.A.H.R.D.M. Hospital, Himmatganj, Allahabad, U.P. (Government of U.P.).India.
  • Saifia Hamidia Unani Tibbia College & Saeeda Hospital, Ganpati Naka, Burhanpur,M.P.India.
  • Tipu Sultan Unani Medical College,Gulbarga, Karnataka.
  • Unani and Ayurvedic Medical College & Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ Unani Medicine in India: Its Origin and Fundamental Concepts by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. IV Part 2 (Medicine and Life Sciences in India), Ed. B. V. Subbarayappa, Centre for Studies in Civilizations, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, New Delhi, 2001, pp. 298-325
  2. ^ An introduction to Graeco-Arabic Medicine.
  3. ^ a b "Unani". Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, Govt. of India. http://indianmedicine.nic.in/unani.asp. 
  4. ^ a b Chishti, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b Kapoor, p. 7264
  6. ^ Unani Medicine in India during 1901 -1947 by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Studies in History of Medicine and Science, IHMMR, New Delhi, Vol. XIII, No. 1, 1994, p. 97-112
  7. ^ Arab Medicine during the Ages by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Studies in History of Medicine and Science, IHMMR, New Delhi, Vol. XIV, No. 1-2, 1996, p. 1-39
  8. ^ Exchanges between India and Central Asia in the field of Medicine by Hakeem Abdul Hameed
  9. ^ Interaction with China and Central Asia in the Field of Unani Medicine by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. III Part 2 (India’s Interaction with China, Central and West Asia), Ed. A. Rahman, Centre for Studies in Civilizations, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, New Delhi, 2002, pp. 297-314
  10. ^ Indian Hakims: Their Role in the medical care of India by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. IV Part 2 (Medicine and Life Sciences in India), Ed. B. V. Subbarayappa, Centre for Studies in Civilizations, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture, New Delhi, 2001, pp. 371-426
  11. ^ Bala, p. 45
  12. ^ CCIM
  13. ^ Traditional Knowledge Digital Library website.
  14. ^ "Know Instances of Patenting on the UES of Medicinal Plants in India". PIB, Ministry of Environment and Forests. May 6, 2010. http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=61511. 
  15. ^ "Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM)". Traditional Knowledge Digital Library. http://www.tkdl.res.in/tkdl/LangSpanish/Unani/Una_ccrum.asp?GL=. 
  16. ^ "Research and Development: Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM)". Centre for Research in Indian Systems of Medicine, (CRISM). http://www.crism.net/research.htm. 
  17. ^ Rahman, SZ; Latif, A; Khan, RA (Dec 2008). "Importance of pharmacovigilance in Unani system of medicine". Indian J Pharmacol. 40 (7): 17–20. http://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2008/40/7/17/40238. 

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