An Essential Guide to Unani Medicine

Unani medicine, sometimes called Unani-tibb or Yunani Medicine is a form of holistic medicine practiced in India. It is similar to Ayuervedic medicine and is based on the Hippocratic theory of the four humors.  
In Unani medicine there are four basic elements: Earth, air, fire and water. Some balance of these elements are present in the four humors of the body.
The four humors attributed to the philosopher Empedocles and upon which the medical practice of Medieval Europe was based are as follows: Phlegm (Balgham); Blood (Dam); Yellow bile (Ṣafrā') and Black bile (Saudā'). The individual's temperament (Mizaj) is determined by the dominance of any of these. For example, if phlegm dominates, the patient is phlegmatic. If blood is dominates, he is sanguine. Yellow bile makes him bilious or choleric. Black bile makes him melancholic.
When these elements and humors are in harmony and balance the body is in good health. But, if they become out of balance, the body can become diseased. Unani medicine seeks to establish and maintain a balance to restore and maintain health.
Unani medicine is government approved form of medicine in India and practitioners can practice as doctors.
Historical Overview of the Practice of Unani Medicine
Aesculapius, the Greek God of Medicine, is credited as the founder of Unani Medicine, which is translated to mean "Greek Medicine." Hippocrates, who lived from 460-377 B.C. was said to be his descendant is considered to be the father of Unani medicine.
The earliest foundation of Unani medicine can, also, be traced to Claudius Galenus of Pergamum and the Arab physician Rhazes. It is largely based on the work of the Persian doctor Hakim Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna ) who authored "The Canon of Medicine" in Persia circa 1025 A.D. He was influenced by the medical practices of Greece, India and Islam.   It is codified in thousands of international manuscripts.
Unani medicine first appeared in India around the 12th to 13th century. It reached the height of its popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries. It fell out of favor during the period of British rule from about the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century but its practice was preserved by the physician and scholar Hakim Ajmal Khan.
What are the Benefits of Unani Medicine?
Unani medicine is self-empowering because it is based on the belief that the body has the ability to heal itself. Most prescriptions are natural substances which are effective and relatively inexpensive when compared to the rising costs of allopathic pharmaceutical medicines.
It is valuable in the treatment of disease which are difficult to treat through conventional means. Experts say it is effective in treating such diseases as malaria, hepatitis, skin disorders, tonsillitis, incontinence, vomiting, sexual disorders, reproductive disorders and AIDS.
How Is It Performed?
A Unani practitioner must first make a diagnosis of the patients basic temperament based on the elements and humors. After the diagnosis is completed, a method of treatment is determined which seeks to eliminate the cause, normalize the balance of the humors and restore the tissues and organs to their normal level of function.
Methods include:
  • Ripening (Munzij) and Purging (Mushil);
  • Cupping (Mahajim);
  • Sweating (Taareeq);
  • Diuresis (Idrare Baul);
  • Bath Therapy (Hammam);
  • Massage Techniques (Dalak);
  • Purging (Qai);
  • Exercise (Riyazat)
These methods work to draw energy to specific areas, to detoxify the body, to move toxins out of the system and to strengthen and relax the body.
The strength of the medicines prescribed are selected according to the degree of imbalance of the elements involved. 
Practitioners may advise the patient to restrict certain physical activities and to adopt a particular diet and lifestyle. This is often necessary in order not to counter the effect of the treatments. Treatments and their diseases are considered in terms of "hot," "cold," "dry" or "moist," so once a treatment is described to counter a particular condition, it must not be antidoted by the consumption of its opposite.
Some Unani practitioners also monitor heart rate, blood pressure urine and bowel movements.
Who Should Use Unani Medicine?
Unani medicine is very good for the treatment of chronic conditions like arthritis, asthma, mental illness, cardiac disease, digestive disorders, infections, malaria, hepatitis, leukoderma, skin conditions and immune system disorders including AIDS. It is, also, know for it's efficacy in treating sexual disorders and sterility in women.
Because it is a broad spectrum system of medicine it is an excellent treatment for syndromes and other conditions which are baffling to allopathic medical doctors. Unani medicine is relatively safe, free of negative side effects and is inexpensive when compared to allopathic medical treatments.
It is a good system for people who are concerned about the growing costs and the dangers associated with conventional allopathic health care. People of all socio-economic backgrounds and levels of education use this healing system.

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