The Unani system of medicine; sometimes referred to as Greco-Arab medicine or Unani Tibb; is based on Greek philosophy. As per this traditional system, the human body is composed of four basic elements: earth, air, water and fire having cold, hot, wet and dry temperaments respectively. The body fluids are composed of four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. These humors have their own temperament:
- Dam - Blood: hot & wet (Sanguine)
- Balgham - Phlegm: cold & hot (Phlegmatic)
- Safra - Yellow bile: hot & dry (Choleric)
- Sauda - Black bile: cold & dry (Melancholic)
The quality and quantity of four humors affect the state of health and disease in the body.
As long as these humours exist in normal balance, normal quantities and in the normal region of the body, the humour system will work in a normal way. Any imbalance in the constitution of humours or changes in their quantity and quality result in diseases.
The human dispositions corresponding to these humours are, respectively, sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. Each person is considered to have a specific humoral makeup, determined by the predominance of a given humour in his or her constitution. The quality and quantity of the humours in an individual—a person’s unique, proper, and proportionate humoral makeup—is said to guarantee health. Conditions other than this balance signal ailment or disease.
Classical diagnosis in Unani system is based on examination of pulse, stool and urine in addition to routine physical checkup.
Modes of treatment
There are three modes of treatment in Unani system:
- Regimenal therapy (Ilajbil tadbeer) – Use of exercise, climate change, massage, venesection, leeching, cupping, diet therapy etc.
- Pharmacotherapy (Ilajbil dava) – use of drugs of plant, animal and mineral origin, either alone or in combination.
- urgery (Ilajbil Yad) – Surgical intervention in treatment as last resort.
Unani system of medicine emphasizes on maintaining health by natural ways and means through change in lifestyle, regular exercise, and regulation of diet normal sleeping habits and by avoiding factors which may adversely affect the quality of life. It is significant that this system is based on crude/whole drug therapy in which active principle of a drug is not isolated but is allowed to coexist with other natural parts of a plant to counter act the side effects.
In this crude drug therapy most of the cases, there is no direct attack on the causative organism of the disease but the internal atmosphere of the body is altered, due to that, the causative organism is either killed or becomes inactive.
There are herbs that act as immunomodulators in the body by encouraging the defense mechanism of a person. The selection of drugs depends upon the nature and type of disease.