By Dr. Hakim Syed M.M. Ameen
Unani system of medicine owes its origin to Greece. It was the Greek philosopher-physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC) who freed medicine from the realm of superstition and magic and gave it the status of Science. The theoretical framework of Unani Medicine is based on the teachings of Hippocrates. Afterwards a number of other Greek scholars enriched the system considerably. Of the Galen (132-210 AD) stands out as the one who stabilised its foundation, on which Arab physicians like Rahzes (850-925 AD) and vicenna (980-1037 AD) constructed an imposing edifice. Unani Medicine got enriched by imbibing what was best in the contemporary systems of traditional medicine in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, India, China and other middle east and far east countries.
In India, Unani system of medicine was introduced by Arabs, and soon it took firm roots in the soil. When Mongols ravaged Persian and central Asia cities like Shiraz, Tabrez and Geelan, scholars and physicians of Unani Medicine fled to India. The Delhi Sultan, the Khiljis, the Tughlags and the Mughal Emperors provided state patronage to the scholars and even enrolled some as state employees and court physicians.
During the 13th and 17th century Unani Medicine had its hey-day in India. Among those who made valuable contributions to this system in this period were Abu Bakr Bin Ali Usman Ksahani, Sadruddin Damashqui, Bahwa bin Khwas Khan, Ali Geelani, Akbal Arzani and Mohammad Hashim Alvi Khan.
The scholars and physicians of Unani Medicine who settled in India were not content with the known drugs. They subjected Indian drugs to clinical trials. As a result of their experimentation they added numerous native drugs to their own system further, enriching its treasures.
During the British rule, Unani Medicines suffered a setback and its development was hampered due to withdrawal of government patronage. Since the system enjoyed faith among the masses it continued to be practised. It was mainly the Sharifi family in Delhi, the Azizi family in Lucknow and the Nizam of Hyderabad due to whose efforts Unani Medicine survived during the British period. An outstanding physician and scholar of Unani Medicine, Hakim Ajmal Khan (1868-1927) championed the cause of the system in India.
At present the Unani system of medicine, with its own recognised practitioners, hospitals and educational and research institutions, forms an integral part of the national health care system. Today, India is considered a world leader in Unani Medicine. The government is providing increasing support and funds for the multipronged development of Unani medicine to draw the fullest advantage of this system in providing health care to the masses. It is hoped that the spread of Unani and other Indian systems of medicines will help realise the cherished goal of health for all by the year 2000.
Unani Medicine, as said earlier, is based on the principles put forward by Hippocrates. He was the first person to establish that disease was a natural process, that its symptoms were the reactions of the body to the disease, and that the chief function of the physician was to aid the natural forces of the body. He was the first physician to introduce the method of taking to medical histories. His chief contribution to the medicine real is the humoral theory.
The humoral theory presupposes the presence of four humors-Dam (blood), Balgham (Phlegm), Safra (Yellow bile) and Sauda (black bile)- in the body. The temperaments of persons are expressed by the words sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic according to the preponderance in them of the respective humors-blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The humors themselves are assigned temperaments: blood is hot and moist, phlegm-cold and moist, yellow bile-hot and dry, and black bile-cold and dry.
Every person is supposed to have a unique humoral constitution which represented his healthy state and to maintain the correct humoral balance there is a power of self-preservation or adjustment called Quwwat-e-Mudabbira (medicatrix naturae) in the body. If this powder weakens, imbalance in the humoral composition is bound to occur. And this causes disease. In Unani Medicine, great reliance is placed in this power. The medicines used in this system, in fact, help the body to regain this power to an optimum level and thereby restore humerol balance, thus retaining health. Also, correct diet and digestion are considered to maintain humerol balance.
Another distinctive feature of the Unani system of medicine is its emphasis on diagnosing a disease through Nabz (pulse), a rhythmic expansion of arteries which is felt by fingers. Other methods of diagnosis include examination of Baul (urine), Baraz (stool), etc.
Prevention of Disease
Unani system of medicine recognises the influence of surroundings and ecological conditions on the state of health of human beings. This system aims at restoring the equilibrium of various elements and faculties of the human body. It has laid down six essential prerequisites for the prevention of diseases and places great emphasis, on the one hand, on the maintenance of proper ecological balance and, on the other, on keeping water, food and air free from pollution. These essentials, known as ‘Asbab-e-Sitta Zarooriya’ are air, food and drinks, bodily movement and repose, psychic movement and repose, sleep and wakefulness, and excretion and retention.
In Unani system of medicine various types of treatment are employed, such as llajibit-Tadbeer (regimental therapy) and Jarahat (surgery). The regimental therapy includes venesection, cupping, diaphoresis, diuresis, Turkish bath, massage, cauterization, purging, emesis, exercise, leeching etc. of specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food. On the other hand pharmacotherapy deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs, mostly herbal. Though drugs of animal and mineral origin are also used. Similarly, surgery has also been in use in this system for quite long. In fact, the ancient physicians of Unani Medicine were pioneers in this field and had developed their own instruments and techniques.
Unani system of medicine is quite popular among the masses. The practitioners of Unani Medicine, are scattered all over the country. According to available official figures, there are 35,350 registered Unani practitioners in the country. Of them, 13,116 are institutionally qualified. Besides, a large number of unregistered practitioners are dispersed all over the country who practise Unani Medicine on hereditary basis.
Presently, 11 states have Unani hospitals. The total number of hospitals functioning in different states of the country is 105. Out of these, 95 are run by Government agencies and 10 by other organisations. The total bed strength in all the hospitals is 1914.
Fourteen states in country have Unani dispensaries. The total number of Unani dispensaries is 954. Out of which, 780 are being run by government agencies, 169 by local bodies and three by other organisations.
Seven dispensaries two in Andhra Pradesh, one each in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and three in Delhi are functioning under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) which mainly cater to the health needs of the central government employees. Establishment of CGHS dispensaries in other parts of the country is also under way.
The education and training facilities in Unani system of medicine are presently being monitored by the Central Council of India Medicine which is a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament known as Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970. At present, there are 25 recognised colleges of Unani Medicine in the country which provide education and training facilities in the system. These colleges have a total admission capacity of about 950 students per year for undergraduate courses. They are either government institutions or set up by voluntary organisations. All these educational institutions are affiliated to different Universities. The curriculum prescribed by Central Council of Indian Medicine is followed by these institutions.
Postgraduate education and research facilities are also available in the subjects of Ilmul Advia (Pharmacology) Moalijat (Medicine) and Kulliyat (Basic principles) at Ajmal Khan Tibbia College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and in the subjects of Moalijat (Medicine) and Amraz-e-Atfal (Paediatrics) at government Nizamiah Tibbi College, Hyderabad.
The Hamdard Tibbi College, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi has also recently started post-graduation in Moalijat (Medicine) and Ilmul Advia (Pharmacology). The total admission capacity to these courses in all these colleges is 50.
Aims and Objects of Unani Education
To produce competent Unani Physicians who can handle all sorts of cases medical as well as surgical based on their extensive knowledge about the fundamental theories and the basic principles of the Unani system of Medicine with modern advance where necessary. Such Unani graduates shall be competent to serve in the medical and health services of the country.
Senior Secondary (12 Standard)/ Intermediate or equivalent oriental qualification. They will be eligible for admission to main 4 1/2 years course of B.U.M.S.
Note: Preference shall be given to those who are proficient in Arabic or Persian.
Minimum age for Admission
17 years as on 1st October in the year of admission for Main Unani Course
Duration of Course:
Main Course 4 1/2 years
Internship 1 Year.
Degree to be Awarded after Successful Completion of Course
Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (B.U.M.S)
Medium of Instruction
Medium of instructions shall be Urdu substantiated with English wherever necessary. Facilities for teaching in Hindi or regional language may be provided and a change in the medium may be adopted provided the text books in Hindi or regional languages are made available.
Necessary modern advancements shall be incorporated in the course of studies.
Name and Address of the Colleges
* Govt. Nizami Tibbi College,
Charminar, Hyderabad -500002.
* Dr. Abdul Haq Unani Medical College,
40-23, Park Road, Kurnool -518001.
* Z.H. Unani Medical College and Hospital,
P.O.Box.No:12, Siwan- 841226. (Bihar)
* Salfia Unani Medical College and Hospital,
Lahenasarai, Farid House,Muzaffarpur. Darbhanga -846001.
* Nizamia Unani Medical College and Hospital,
Gaya , Bihar Muzaffarpur.
* Government Tibbi College,
Kadam Kuan, Patna - 800003.
* Government Unani Medical College,
No:26,Indian Red Cross Society Building, Race Course Road, Bangalore -5600001.
* Saifia Hamidia Unani Tibbia College,
Burhanpur -450331. (M.P)
* A.K.I. Tibbia College,
Baitul Aman, Nagpada, Hasrat- Mohani Chowk, Mumbai -400008.
* Jamiya Arabiya Rashidiya Taj Tibbiya College and Rasheedia Hospital,
Jamiya Arabia, Rasheed- Nagar, Nall Saheb Road, Nagpur-18. (Mahrastra)
* Mohammedia Tibbia College,
P.B.No: 128, Mansoora, Pune. Malegoan -423203 (Nasik).
* Unani Medical College,
H.B. Hidayatullah Road, New Pune. Modikhana, Anglo Urdu School Campus, Pune.
* Rajasthan Unani Medical College,
11/4636, Jagannath Shah Ka Rasta, Handipura, Jaipur -302002. (Raj)
* Rajputana Ayurved and Unani Tibbi College,
Khadar Ka Rasta, Char Darwaza, Jaipur.
* Zubairiya Tibbia College,
Jodhpur, C/o Shakti Nagar, Jaipur, Rajasthan Aakashwani, Marg,
Proofa, ‘C’ Road, Jodhpur -342001.
* Government Unani Medical College,
* State Takmil-ut-Tib College,
Hakim Abdul Amiz Road, Jhawai- Tola, Lucknow -226003 (U.P)
* State Unani Medical College,
Himmat Ganj, Allahabad.
* Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College,
Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh -202002.
* Aurveda and Unani
Tibbia College, Karol Bagh, New Delhi -110005.
* Hamdard Tibbi College,
Hamdard Nagar, New Delhi -110062.