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Principles of Unani System of Medicine

There are many medical systems developed over the millennia with specific concepts. The historic evidence depicts that the world moves on to better medicinal practice by replacing the old ones. Despite the fact, the old practices are studied as a foundation of the latest medicinal practices. One such practice is Unani medicine. Developed in the Middle East, this medicinal practice has immense significance during the dawn of modern civilization. In this section, we will discuss what Unani is and how it was developed.

What is Unani?

Unani medicine is one of the oldest medicinal practices that evolved in the Islamic provinces thousands of years back. It has been mentioned by Galen and Hippocrates, the ancient physicians of Greece nearly 2500 years back. Imagine the way this medicinal practice was popular. It is a part of the Islamic culture and development of the civilization that earmarked the dawn of modern medicinal practices partially. The presence of the concepts of this traditional medicine was found in the Greek doctrines.

The concept of this traditional medicine evolved over time. The Arabian scholars made many refinements of the concept by experimenting and practising the old ones. The most noted among them was Avicenna. The Caliphate rule also did excellent development in the concepts by translating the Greek knowledge of human physiology and diseases into Arabic. This knowledge is considered to be the prime foundation of Unani.

For more than 1400 years, the Unani system of medicine has been practised and refined by practitioners. Additional contributions were made by the practitioners worldwide making it one of the most popular alternative medicinal practices. Medical wisdom from the Middle East and other parts evolved and spread all over South Asia.

What are the Unani Medicine Principles?

Every medicinal practice has a particular base or consideration. All the concepts develop based on a particular approach to human physiology and treatment methods. The Unani medicine list is based on natural healing methods. The concepts rely on the healing power of an individual. They are also built on the foundation of mental, physical, and spiritual realms.

The basic principles of physiology of Unani Medicine are based on Al-Umoor Al-Tabiyah, the seven principles of maintaining harmony. The seven principles are:

  • Arkan depicting the elements.

  • Mizaj depicting the temperament or mood of a person.

  • Akhlat or the bodily humors.

  • Aaza depicting all the organ systems.

  • Arwah depicts the vitality and presence of a spirit.

  • Qua depicts the powers and faculties of a human being.

  • Afaal depicts the functions.

All these seven principles interact with each other and maintain balance. When all these principles of human physiology are in harmony, a person remains healthy. In fact, the basic of Unani treatment is to maintain the balance and to believe that the power to maintain this balance resides within the patient. This self-healing power is depicted as Tabiyat. It is maintained when the seven components, mentioned above, remain in absolute harmony.

It is considered a traditional medicinal practise as the evidence of all these components have not been scientifically proven. This alternative medicinal practise is quite popular across the world, especially in the Middle East and South Asia. In 2014, an estimated volume of 400,000 practitioners was registered under the Indian Medical Association. Many practice quackery by giving western medicines to patients without any license or certification.

What is the Difference Between Unani and Modern Medicine?

As we all know now that the Unani treatment depends on the seven components, the practice believes that the capability of maintaining the balance of all these components lies within us. Despite this fact, there is no such scientific evidence that directs us to believe in this millennia-old medical practice.

Western medicine, on the other hand, is based on research, data, and scientific evidence. The results help us draw the line regarding using medicine or developing a new treatment procedure. There is no such evidence related to pharmacovigilance (monitoring drug activities and side effects) in this medicinal practice. The Unani medicine list is based on the natural ingredients extracted from natural sources. It means that the medicines are given in general, without checking the active ingredients responsible for the therapeutic effect. The dosage and delivery forms have not been improved since then.


Despite the lack of evidence, you can find Unani medicine online. The methods of preparing medicines in this system have been refined using modern technology but the principles are based on the age-old conceptual foundation. People seek this way of treatment due to common beliefs. The medicines are made of herbs, minerals, and other natural sources without proper scientific evidence. This is why it is considered to be a traditional medicinal approach for the treatment of various diseases. It can be useful for small illnesses or treating regular ailments but grave diseases need proper medical attention from the contemporary healthcare system.

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FAQs on Unani Medicine

1. What is the Prime Difference Between Unani Medicine and Western Medicine?

As discussed in this section, Unani medicine is based on the basic principle of the power of a human body to heal itself. According to this practice, the human body maintains the balance between seven prime components. When this harmony breaks, the human body suffers from illnesses. Despite being practised for thousands of years, there is no scientific evidence of this medicinal practice’s belief system. Western medicine totally depends on the scientific evidence of a medicinal compound’s effectiveness to cure an illness. The Unani system of medicine is based on a belief system whereas Western medicine depends on scientific research and solid evidence.

2. What Kind of Medicine is Prescribed in the Unani System?

If you consider the type of Unani medicine for early discharge, you will find that the medicines are natural (herbal or mineral). It means that the medicines are generally in crude form. It also means that the active therapeutic compound will be present with a lot of other unwanted compounds. Only natural sources are considered for such medicinal practice.