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Basic principles and concepts of the Unani system | Dr.Roy Medical Hall


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Basic principles and concepts of the Unani system

Q. 1 What is an Unani system of Medicine?

Ans. The Unani system is a science that deals with the preventive and promotive aspects of human beings and health problems occurred by the Ecological and Environmental factors, which may vitiate humours i.e. Blood, Phlegm, Yellow bile, and Black bile, the fluids circulating in the body vessels. It teaches to maintain the health and treat if affected by the disease by bringing back the balance in imbalance humours. Humours are one of the basic principles & concepts conceptualized by the 'Father of Medicine, 'Hippocrates'.


Q. 2 What are the basic principles & concepts of the Unani system?

Ans. In the basic principles and concepts, the human body is considered to be made up of the following components.

Arkan (Elements)

Mizaj (Temperament)

Akhlat (Humours)

Aza (Organs)

Arwah (Spirit)

Quwa (Powers)

Afa'l (Function)

I) Elements (Arkan): These are four i.e. Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. Actually, these four elements represent several other elements found in modern science. There are four states denoting the temperaments of these four elements.


Hot & Moist


Hot & Dry


Cold & Dry


Cold & Moist

II. Temperaments (Mizaj):- The interaction between the chemical combination of four elements, produces various states which determine the temperament of an individual human being, plants, & minerals. Temperament (Mizaj) is simply defined as having the following states and their combinations:-





Single - Compound

Hot & Dry

Hot & Moist

Cold & Dry

Cold & Moist

III Humours (Akhlat):- The humours are actually the body fluids that are classified broadly into four. The fluids of the body contain various hormones, enzymes, humours, etc. They are responsible for the nutrition of the whole body. These fluids are (a) Primary (b) Secondary.

(a) Primary fluids are four humour i.e. blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.

(b) Secondary fluids are hormones, enzymes, plasma, etc.

IV. Organs (Aaza): - Organs are composed of cells, tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. Various organs of the body and the health disease condition of each individual affect the state of health.

V. Pneuma-Gaseous material (Arwah):- The Pneuma is a life force that carries different powers, without which the human body is dead. This is a source of life and vitality.

VI. Faculties (Qawa):- Faculties/Powers are of three kinds.

a) Natural powers

b) Psychic powers

c) Vital powers

VII. Functions (Afaal): - Includes movements of various organs. It is necessary to ensure that various organs should be in proper shape and condition to perform proper functions.


Q. 3 What does the temperament of the drugs means?

Ans. The temperament of the drugs means the whole chemistry and properties of a drug, it's quality of having toxicity or otherwise. The drugs belonging to plant, mineral & animal origin have their own temperaments. Because of the temperament, the property of one drug differs from the other.


Q. 4 How one can ascertain the temperament of compound drugs?

The different ingredients of a drug have a molecular structure (Surat-Mauiyah). Therefore their temperament is also different. When ingredients of different temperaments assemble in a compound drug, they develop and produce a different temperament altogether.


Q. 5 Describe and illustrate the method of assessment of the temperament of a drug?

Ans. Al-Kindi (A distinguished pharmacognosist who died in 873 A.D.) established a method to assess the temperament, and degrees of compound drugs and illustrated it as follows.

Cardamom 1 warm ½ cold ½ moist 1 dry

Sugar 2 warm 1 cold 1 moist 2 dry

Indigo ½ warm 1 cold ½ moist 1 dry

Embolic 1 warm 2 cold 1 moist 2 dry

Sum:- 4 ½ warm 4 ½ cold 3 moist 6 dry

Thus the drug is dried to the first degree.


Q. 6 What do you mean by Hot, Wet, or Dry Quality of Drug?

Ans. The temperament is a quality of a drug it means the drug is hot and cold in touch and vice-versa. It actually means that the drug is potentially or action wises hot in comparison to the body.

The potency and degree developed inside the body. The action takes place after the intake of the drug, which increases or decreases the body's temperament, stimulating the thermostat, the center of the hypothalamus, by increasing the Basic Metabolic Mates (BMR), by releasing various hormones.

A drug is said to be hot because it produces certain symptoms related to heat after intake. A drug is said to be cold when it lowers the temperament by influencing the hypothalamus or decreasing the BMR, as such the symptoms produced after intake of drugs of various temperaments are attributed to hot, cold, moist, or dry.


Q. 7 Is there a gradation of potencies of drugs?

Ans. In Unani, all drugs are defined in temperamental qualities and graded into four degrees according to the potency of their qualities hot, cold, moist (wet), and dry. Thus a hot drug is graded in degrees one, two, three, and four, and cold, moist and hot are defined as vice-versa. Thus the first and second degrees are safe and third has a toxic effect of mild nature and the fourth is considered to have side effects or toxic.


Q. 8 What is the importance of temperament and its manifestation?

Ans. For maintaining health it is imperative to maintain temperaments as well. It is also paramount for a physician to keep the temperament in mind while diagnosing a disease. The dominance of one or more humour in the body vitiates humour itself and creates a condition i.e. cold disease.


Q. 9 How do the humours alter and create disease?

Ans. There are various factors that affect the humours. When a disturbance in the quantity, quality, and equilibrium in one or more humours occurred due to the effect of the atmosphere or otherwise it causes disease.


Q. 10 How the temperament was determined?

Ans. It is the observation, experimentation, and experience of ancient physicians who had undertaken clinical trials on living beings and treated them with single as well as compound drugs. According to the actions, resulting in the human body, observed and examined by the physicians, the temperament was defined and determined.

Q. 11 What types of drugs are used in the Unani system?

Ans. Drugs of Herbal, Mineral & Animal origin are used. They form a large number of formulations and shape acceptable to the patient.


Q. 12 In what form the drugs are used?

Ans. Drugs are used in crude forms as single drugs and in compound forms.


Q. 13 Why compound drugs are used when the single drugs also have effective action?

Ans. Because single drugs sometimes could not give desired effect and results, they can give less and sometimes severe action. A drug of compound ingredients counteracts the toxic effect of the chemically active principle and acts as an antidote and enhances the required action of other single drugs.

The combination of multiple drugs in a formula having different qualities and active principles of mild or severe nature interact with each other. In the process, the toxic effects or side effects reduce to nil, therefore, the trend continues.


Q. 14 In compound forms whether the Unani drugs retain the quality and maintain the efficacy of the drug and their life?

Ans. In Unani drug sugar or honey is the base as a preservative. So if the preservative is standard then the drug retains its quality, and efficacy and also retains its life for more than one year. The methods of preparation of compound drugs and preservatives are described in detail in NFUM, Part-I.


Q. 15 Are Unani drugs safe?

Ans. All the drugs used in compound formulations are safe & non-toxic. These drugs are prepared according to the specific process & methods. Before preparation of Unani drugs toxicity of drugs is kept in mind and so the toxic ingredient is purified and detoxified. Due to this process, the toxicity is reduced to nil and the efficacy remains. Hence, the Unani drugs are absolutely safe.


Q. 16 It is well known that drugs in crude form act slowly. So they cannot give immediate relief to the patient? Then how does the Unani physician handle emergency and acute cases?

Ans. The medicinal plants are a type of vegetation, for example, some fruit or vegetables are used to stop diarrhea and some are administered to increase hemoglobin in anemia. Their action is fast. As such Unani medicines take effective action in the patients with acute diseases as well as chronic diseases.

In the following acute conditions, Unani drugs take immediate action.

I. Indigestion, Acidity, Flatulence

II. Diarrhoea

III. Dysentery

IV. Bronchitis

V. Coryza and Catarrh.

VI. Abdominal pain

VII. Urticaria and other ailments

The misconception that the Unani drugs act only in chronic diseases is absolutely incorrect. Arthritis, Bronchial Asthma, Sinusitis, Hepatitis, etc. becomes chronic due to repeated administration of allopathic drugs. These can be cured in acute conditions with Unani drugs. As almost all the Unani drugs are used orally or locally and injectables are not used in the system, therefore they act like the allopathic drugs through the same route.


Q. 17 What are the preventive & promotive aspects of Unani?

Ans. Ecological & environmental factors affect the balance of humours in the body and also vitiate them. Maintenance of humour and promotion and preservation of health depends on six essentials that influence the living being with respect to preservation of health and causation of disease.

The Six Essentials (Asbab-e-Sitt-e-Zarooriya) are:-

I. Hawa-e-Muhit (atmospheric air)

II. Makul-vo-Mashrub (food & drink)

III. Harkat-vo-sakun badni (physical movement & rest)

IV. Harkat-vo-Sakun al-Nafsani (Mental movement and rest)

V. Naum vo-Yaqzah (Sleep and wakefulness)

VI. Istifragh-vo-Ihtibas (Evacuation & retention).


Q.18 How the disease is diagnosed?

Ans. Diagnosis is involved investigation of the cause of disease through a pulse reading, naked eye examination of urine & stool, and through the other conventional methods i.e. auscultation, palpation, and percussion with the help of some modern tools. Thus, the spot diagnosis is made very easy.


Q. 19 What are the modes/methods of treatment?

Ans. Modes of treatment are four.

I. Regimental therapy

II. Diet therapy

III. Pharmacotherapy

IV. Surgery.


Q. 20 What do you mean by Regimental therapy?

Ans. Regimens are five as under.

I. Exercise

II. Massage

III. Hammam

IV. Douches

V. Regimen of Geriatrics

Hammam and massage therapy are available in Govt. Nizamia General Hospital (Unani) Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Cupping therapy as another specialty treatment of Unani is available in Central Research Instt., (CCRUM) Hyderabad, A.P.

Q. 21 Whether this system is recognized by the Govt. of India?

Ans. Yes, this system is recognized by Govt. of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, under the Act-1970, to provide for the constitution of a Central Council of Indian Medicine and to maintain a Central Register of Indian Medicine. The CCIM makes the education regulations. This is a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament.

The training and education in Unani are being regulated by the CCIM Act. At present, there are 39 recognized undergraduate and three P.G. Unani colleges, and 7 specialties are available in the P.G. courses.

Q. 22 What is the infrastructure of Unani in India?

Ans. The Unani system has a network of Colleges, Hospitals, Dispensaries, Research Institutes, National Institutes, and an Unani specialty center established by the Department of ISM & H, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

Q. 23 What are the contributions of Unani in Health Care Delivery?

Ans. The Unani system has a complete network in India and is engaged in National Health Care Delivery through:-

1. Unani Under Graduate Colleges - 39

2. Unani Post Graduate Colleges - 3

Specialties in PG Colleges - 7 as under :

I. Kulliyat (Fundamentals of Unani medicine)

II. Ilmul Advia (Pharmacology)

III. Moalijat (Medicine)

IV. Amraz Niswan-vo-Qabala (Gynae and obstetrics)

V. Hifzane-Sehat (Health & Hygiene)

VI. Manfeul Aza (Physiology)

VII. Jarahiyat (Surgery)

3. Dispensaries - 965

4. Central Govt. Health Scheme Disp./Units - 9

5. Hospitals - 189

6. Unani Speciality Centre - 1

7. Research Institutes - 32

8. National Instt. of Unani Medicine - 1

9. Registered recognized physicians - 42000

10. Manufacturer - 514

Q. 24 What are the contributions of Govt. of India to the promotion of Unani in India?

Ans . Govt. of India has various schemes for promotion, up-gradation, propagation, and for standardization of the Unani system.

The following prioritized areas are:-

I. Constituted the Unani Pharmacopoeia Committee (UPC) consisting of expert physicians, scientists, botanists, pharmacologists, chemists, manufacturers, and experts of medicine. The first committee was constituted in 1964 for three years. Every third year it is being re-constituted.

Q. 25 What are the functions of UPC?

Ans. The functions of UPC are:-

I. To verify the formulations of Unani medicine which are frequently and commonly used, the time-tested formulation from reference books under Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940.

II. To prepare pharmacopeia for standards of single drugs and compound formulations worked out by the drug standardization and drug testing laboratories, Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine and Pharmacopoeial Laboratory of Indian Medicine (PLIM), U.P.

Q. 26 What are the contributions of UPC during the last 36 years?

Ans. The contribution of UPC are:-

I. Prepared National formulary of Unani Medicine (NFUM), Part-I - 441 formulations

II. NFUM , Part-II - 202 formulations

III. NFUM, Part-III - 103

IV. Unani Pharmacopoeia of India (UPI), Part-I - 45 standards, published in 1998

V. UPI, Part-II - 120 under process for publication

VI. UPI, Part-III - 103 under process for publication

Q. 27 What are the schemes Govt. of India has formulated for the development of Unani?

Ans. There are the following schemes:-

I. Grant-in-aid for up-gradation of standards of undergraduate colleges.

II. Grant-in-aid for the establishment of postgraduate colleges.

III. Re-orientation training program for up-gradation of skills and knowledge of Teachers, Practitioners & Researchers.

IV. Extra Mural Research Projects.

V. Cultivation of Medicinal Plants Scheme

VI. Drug standardization research program.

VII. Upgradation of pharmacies/manufacturing units.

VIII. Upgradation of drug testing laboratory.

IX. To coordinate with Reproduction & Child Health (RCH Programme) under the Department of Family Welfare, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Q. 28 Is there any action to control the standards of Unani drug manufacturer sale, distribution, and import-export law?

Ans. Drug Technical Advisory Board was constituted for Ay., Unani & Siddha under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act & Rules-1940 to control the standards of drugs, manufacturing, sales & distribution of Unani drugs.

Q. 29 Is there any Drug Testing Lab. for Unani Medicines?

Ans. Yes, the PLIM is a Govt. Drug Testing Lab. for standardization and quality control of Ay. & Unani drugs.

Questions / Answers of common diseases and Unani drugs

Q. Sometimes I have eruptions on my body, usually accompanied by redness and itching. These eruptions disappear after sometimes without taking medicine. Again it appears with itching. What is this? Is there any medicine for this ailment?

Ans. These can be allergic disorders caused by some impurities in the blood. The following medicines of Unani are advised.


Elva (Aloe barbadensis)

Mur Makki (Commiphora myrrh)

Boora-e-Aramani (Armanium Bole)

The method of preparation:- Powder all and mix within Vinegar and honey. Apply on the affected part.


Rose water ( Arq-e-Gulab)

The method of preparation:- Mix these drugs in equal quantities and apply them to the affected part.


The method of preparation:- Take powder of Triphala 6 g. Triphala is a powder of Amla ( Emblica Officinalis), Bella (Terminal IA Billerica and Halela (Terminalia chebula, Soak the powder in120 ml of water overnight and strain in the morning, take as such or by adding little Honey. This powder may also be taken with lukewarm water at bedtime.


Q. I have pain in the back, hip, and right side of the leg. This pain is periodic and starts from the hip, radiating to the foot, and calf muscle. Sometimes it is so severe that I am unable to stand or walk. Sometimes I feel pain in the joints. What can be this? Is there any Unani medicine available?

Ans. This pain can be a Sciatica pain due to a disorder of nerves or Arthritis (Joints inflammation).


Drug Advisable:-

Elva ( Aloe babadensis Linn)

Kind of yellow Halela (Terminalia belerica)

Suranjan ( Colchicum luteum)Seed


The method of preparation:- Make a fine powder of all, mix with a little water, make Bengali Gram size pills, and take 3 pills with plain water twice.

Powder of Chobchini(Smilax china ) 6g, soak in 250 ml. of water for 12 hours. Boil till it reduces to half and strain. Take as such in the morning.


Q. Is my child suffering from a sore throat and pain along with fever?

Ans. This is tonsillitis probably. For tonsillitis, the following drugs are advised.


The method of preparation:- Take 10-20 ml of Sharbat Toot ( syrup of Morus ace does Griff) for 3 to 7 days which is readily available in the market.


Gargles with the decoction of Berg-e-Toot ( Leaves of Morus acedosa Griff)

Gargles with a decoction of Massoor (Lens esculent) and Khaskhaash (papver somnifera)


Q. I am passing hard stool with pain and difficulty. Is there any medicine for the normal stool? If so please advise?

Ans. You are suffering from Chronic constipation. It may be due to the intake of more proteins in the diet or you are missing lunch or breakfast. First of all, take minimum proteins in the diet and take a more fibrous diet, green vegetables, salad regularly. Take one or two glasses of water in the morning on empty stomach.

Take 6gm powder of Halela ((Terminalia belerica) at bedtime with lukewarm water. Husk Isabghol may also be taken safely.


Q. I am feeling shivering with a fever. What should I take?

Ans. Shivering may be due to malarial fever or sometimes viral fevers. Get malaria tested. Drug advised is:


Burn alum 5gm powder it

Dose 1 g twice a day for three days


Q. Is there any treatment for Migraine?

Ans. Yes, there is a number of Unani Medicine available in single and compound form.

Take pericarp of Reetha make powder and use as a snuff if the pain in the right side of the head then use the powder on the left side of the nostril as snuff and vice-versa. If not relieved, consult an Unani physician.


Q. From some time back, I am forgetting everything. In this way, I had lost many important and precious things in the office or wherever I visited. Please, advise the treatment for the loss of Memory.

Ans. Loss of memory may be due to head injury or malarial fever or any other cause but if it is due to weakness or non-specific reason some Unani drugs are very effective such as

Safoof-e-Darchini (Cinnamomum zylanicum) is very effective and useful.

Dose:- 3 to 5 g powder with sugar daily at bedtime with water may be used.


Q. I am suffering from fever. Please advice

Ans. For known specific fever, take a piece of Karanjwa (Cesalpinia bonducella) and 1 gm of Fifil Siyah ( Black piper) powder and take 1 g twice daily for three days.


Q. Which are the well-known institutions/hospitals of Unani in the State?

Ans. Colleges

Govt. Nizamia Tibbi College, Charminar, Hyderabad



Govt. Nizamia General Hospital , Charminar, Hyderabad

Govt. Unani Hospital, Adoni

Govt. Unani Hospital , Kurnool

Govt. Unani Hospital , Nizamabad

Govt. Unani Hospital , Warangal

What are the specialized Unani treatments available in the State?

a) Faliz (Paralysis)

b) Laqua (Facial paralysis)

c) Bawaseer (Piles)

d) Turkish Bath

e) Ishab – Diarrhoea

f) Asthma

g) Chronic Hepatitis (Warm Jigar)

h) Jaundice and

i) Treatment for all seasonal diseases.

Source: https://www.aponline.gov.in/apportal/departments/UnaniFaqs.html

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