The traditional system of Unani medicine, its origin, evolution and Indianisation:
A critical appraisal

Parveen, Abida ; Ahmad, Minhaj ; Parveen, Bushra ; Parveen, Rabea ; Iqbal, Muhammad

Abstract

Greco-Arab medicine, popular as a complementary or alternative medicine, is based largely on herbs and minerals. This was initiated by Hippocrates (460-377 BC) and his associates in Greece, but its preferred home today is the Indian subcontinent. It believes that every person has its own distinct temperament made up of combinations of four basic humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile). A proper balance in quantity and quality of these humors indicates health, while imbalance represents a diseased condition. The temperament of individuals is influenced by a variety of internal and external factors. Treatment is done normally through regimental therapy, dietotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy. The nature of drugs (hot, cool, dry, wet, etc) is also taken into consideration. This therapy is known to have minimal side effects. It received the patronage of Delhi Sultans and Mughal Emperors for over 500 years (13th to 18th century) and is now advancing under the banner of Indian systems of medicine. This review discusses the basic principles and concepts as well as the systematic progress of Unani medicine and critically evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of this therapy in addition to highlighting the contributions of Indian Hakims (Unani physicians) to public health sector in India during the last seven centuries.

Keyword(s)

Greeco-Arab medicine, Herbal drugs, Hippocratic philosophy, Humors, Temperament

 


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