‘Unani: Medicine’s Greco-Islamic Synthesis’ — Saudi Aramco world com article

Unani: Medicine’s Greco-Islamic Synthesis // Written and photographed by STEWART GORDON

In the early 15th century, scholar and physician Mansur ibn Ilyas included this diagram of human musculature in his Tashrin-i Badan-i Insan (The Anatomy of the Human Body). It was written some four centuries after Ibn Sina’s encyclopedic Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (Canon of Medicine),


The world's premier medical text until the 16th century; the page depicted is in a Persian copy produced in 1632.

The world’s premier medical text until the 16th century; the page depicted is in a Persian copy produced in 1632.


The term unani refers to the ancient Greek province of Ionia, located in what is today western Turkey. According to Qaisar Khan, a professor at the college and a specialist in Unani history, the deepest roots of this type of medicine lie with the Greek and Roman concept of the body’s four elements—earth, air, fire and water—as well as the idea that illness occurs when the body’s essential physical states—mainly hot and cold, dry and wet—are out of balance. Imbalance affects many organs, such as the digestive tract, liver, heart and brain. Through observation of pulse, breath, eyes, urine and stool, a doctor can understand the imbalance and correct it, not only with medicines, but also with recommendations for rest, therapies and changes in diet and personal behavior. Medicinally, Unani looks first to compounds of herbs with long traditions of treating particular conditions, such as problems of the digestive tract or high blood pressure. But unlike other herb-based alternate medical systems, Unani medicines, Khan says, are produced from the whole plant, rather than from extracts of the active ingredient.

Unani’s history, he explains, only began with Greece and Rome. Even then, he points out, medical practice always consisted of competing treatments, ideas and schools of thought in which doctors discussed theories and sought, copied and improved upon cures. The classical world of shared medical ideas and practices thus encompassed much of what is today the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, and may even have extended to India: Sanskrit and Greek medical texts show striking similarities in their uses of the idea of four essential elements, as well as the correspondence of those elements to four “humors”: wet, dry, hot and cold.


In 1985, the Indian legislature formally recognized and funded Unani as part of the ayush cluster of five alternate medical systems: Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddi and Homeopathy. With government recognition came more Unani medical colleges, more doctors and broader public acceptance. For the past two decades, the Indian government’s Central Council of Indian Medicine has set the curriculum and standards for Unani medical colleges and funded the development and systematization of Unani medicine through a nationally recognized formulary published both in print and on-line. This database now includes the name of each plant both in Latin and in languages where it is known and used; its efficacy for various conditions; and contraindications and suggested dosages. The government has also funded regional Unani research centers, where formulas and promising plants are scientifically tested, and where the results are published in peer-reviewed journals and subjected to the same requirements of replication and statistical analysis used to establish western pharmaceuticals. Today, about 50,000 Unani doctors, supported by 41 medical colleges, work in India—a number 10 times greater than the number of licensed Ayurvedic doctors.

In Pakistan, where many Unani doctors moved following India’s partition in 1947, government recognition of Unani medicine and training dates back to 1965, when the government established a board to set standards for Unani, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic medicines, to register and license practitioners and to sponsor research. The Ministry of Health directly controls Unani medical colleges throughout the country, which educate about the same number of Unani doctors as India—50,000—but here they make up a more significant sector of health care, as they serve nearly a majority of patients requiring primary care in rural areas. 


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Also see

Unani Medicine on Wikipedia,the free encyclopedia



Birbahuti (Trombidium) is used as Unani Medicine

Unani-tibb or Unani Medicine also spelled Yunani Medicine (/juːˈnɑːni/; Yūnānī in Arabic, Hindustani, pashto and Persian) is a form of traditional medicine practiced in middle-east & south-asian countries. It refers to a tradition of Graeco-Arabic medicine,[1][2] which is based on the teachings of Greek physician Hippocratesand Roman physician Galen, and developed into an elaborate medical system in middle age era by Arabian and Persian physicians, such asRhazes (al-Razi),Avicenna (Ibn Sena), Al-Zahrawi, and Ibn Nafis.[3]

Unani medicine is based on the concept of thefour humours: Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam),Yellow bile (Ṣafrā’) and Black bile (Saudā’).[4][5][6] The time of origin is thus dated at circa 1025 AD, when Avicenna wrote The Canon of Medicine in Persia. While he was primarily influenced by Greek and Islamic medicine, he was also influenced by the Indian medical teachings of Sushruta and Charaka.[7][8]

Unani medicine first arrived in India around 12th or 13th century with establishment of Delhi Sultanate (1206-1527) and Islamic rule overNorth India and subsequently flourished under Mughal Empire.[4][9] Alauddin Khilji (r. 1296-1316) had several eminent Unani physicians (Hakims) in his royal courts[10]In the coming year this royal patronage meant development of Unani practice in India, but also of Unani literature with the aid of Indian Ayurvedic physicians.[3][11]



More on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unani



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