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What is Unani Medicine?

Unani Medicine (commonly referred to as Greeco-Arab medicine or Unani Tibb) is a traditional system of medicine practiced in the Indian subcontinent. The present paper is an attempt to summarily introduce this complimentary therapy, its basic principles to western health care professionals. The overview of education, training, and research in this field has also been presented.Unani Medicine (commonly referred to as Greeco-Arab medicine or Unani Tibb) is a traditional system of medicine practiced in the Indian subcontinent. The present paper is an attempt to summarily introduce this complimentary therapy, its basic principles to western health care professionals. The overview of education, training, and research in this field has also been presented.

INTRODUCTION

The Unani system of medicine; sometimes referred to as Greeco-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:

Blood: hot & wet

Phlegm: cold & hot

Yellow bile: hot & dry

Black bile: cold & dry

The quality and quantity of four humors affect the state of health and disease in the body.

Origin and development of Unani system of medicine

The Unani system of medicine originated in Greece (Unan or Yunan in the Arabic language).

Aesculapius is credited as the originator of this system. Buqrat (better known as Hippocrates, 460-377 BC) is said to be descendent of Aesculapius and recognized as ‘father of Unani medicine’.

Unani medicine developed in the four time periods each in a different geographical belt:

Greek period

Arab-Persian period

Spanish period

Indian period

CONCEPT OF HEALTH

According to Unani medicine, health is considered as a state of the body with humors in equilibrium and body functions normal. Health is based on six essential elements:

Air

Drinks and food

Sleep and wakefulness

Excretion and retention

Physical activity and retention

Mental activity and rest

This theory is indirectly having partial similarity with the accepted definition of health as a state of physical, mental and social wellness.

DIAGNOSIS

Classical diagnosis in the 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 the Unani system:
Regimental 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.
Surgery (Ilajbil Yad) – Surgical intervention in treatment as last resort.

UNANI MEDICINE: THE INDIAN SCENARIO

This section is intended to provide a brief overview of the education & training, professional practice, and research in Unani medicine including the recent advances.

EDUCATION

The Unani Medicine education in India is governed by Central Council of Indian Medicine (Govt. of India). Forty-three colleges impart five and a half years’ Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) degree after 12 years of schooling. The BUMS courses are either affiliated to universities or are run by the deemed university. The students learn basic/preclinical (e.g. anatomy, physiology), preclinical (e.g. pharmacology, pathology, hygiene) and clinical subjects (e.g. Unani medicine, surgery). BUMS course essentially involves a one-year rotatory internship. BUMS can be followed by specialized courses in the form of house job training or post graduation.

3-year postgraduate courses – MD (Unani medicine) or MS (Unani surgery) are offered by a number of institutions

(Table 1) apart from National Institute of Unani Medicine, Bangalore in one or more of the following branches:

Unani internal medicine (Moalejat)

Principles of Unani medicine (Kulliyat)

Gynaecology, Obstetrics, and Paediatrics (Amraz-e-niswan-wa-qabalat-o-atfal)

Preventive & Social Medicine (Tahaffuzi-wa-samaji Tibb)

Unani surgery (Jarahiyat)

Pharmacology (Ilmul Advia)

PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

Clinical practice is undertaken by Unani graduates after registration with a duly constituted government registration board/council. They work in government and private establishments as Unani medical officers, research officers, clinical registrars, teaching staff members, manufacturing chemists and as Unani drug inspectors with drug control authorities. Few of the graduates and post graduates serve in the funded-research projects as research fellows or research associates. A sizeable number opts to work as Unani general practitioners. A minority of the Unani postgraduates are able to get the coveted Lectureships in the teaching institutions. These academicians have the opportunities to become Readers (Associate Professors) and Professors in the academic hierarchy.

RESEARCH

The academic research is mostly undertaken by Post-Graduates-in-training under the supervision of Unani academicians; sometimes; in collaboration with experts from other fields such as pharmacy, modern medicine and science. Dept. of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) under the the Central Ministry of Health

Hamdard University website: https://www.jamiahamdard.edu

NISCAIR website: https://www.niscair.res.in

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