Unani science

The Earth may not be flat nor is it the center of the universe, but that doesn't mean old-world intellectuals got everything wrong.

In recent years, modern science has validated a number of teachings and beliefs rooted in the ancient wisdom of Unani science.

This system of medicine is a comprehensive medical system, providing promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative healthcare. Its fundamentals, diagnosis and treatment modalities are based on scientific principles and a holistic approach, considering each individual in relation to his/her environment and emphasizes on the health of body, mind and soul.

The Unani system of medicine, sometimes referred to as the "Greco-Arab" medicine or "Unani Tibb"; is based on Greek philosophy, originated in Greece and the term Unani is derived from 'Unan', Arabic and Urdu for 'Greece'.

Hmadard India

The theoretical framework of Unani medicine is based on the work of Hippocrates (460-377 BC). By his method of careful study and comparison of symptoms, he laid down the foundation for clinical medicine based on diet and rest. He advocated that the chief function of a physician is to aid the natural forces of the body in combating a disease. 

A number of Greek scholars after Hippocrates such as Galen (131-200 AD) followed by Arab physicians like Rhazes (850-932 AD) and Avicenna (980-1037 AD), enriched the system considerably. Rhazes and Avicenna authored Al-Hawi and Al-Qanun respectively, which were compilations of their observations.

Four Humors

Unani system follows the humoural theory which postulates the presence of four humours in the body: dam (blood), balgham (phlegm), safra (yellow bile) and sauda (black bile), a parallel to kapha, vata and pitta, the three doshas in ayurveda.

These humors temperament are:
  • 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.


Concept of Health

In the Unani system of medicine there are six basic factors which are considered essential for the maintenance of good health and prevention of diseases.

If a person is in practice of these basic principles with perfect balance, his/her health remains maintained.

Health is thus considered as a state of body with humors in equilibrium and body functions normal. It is based on six essential elements:
  • 01


  • 02

    Drinks and food

  • 03

    Sleep and wakefulness

  • 04

    Excretion and retention

  • 05

    Physical activity

  • 06

    Mental activity and rest

India is the leading geography with the largest number of educational, research and health care institutions of Unani Medicine.

Quick facts
about the
ancient principle

An integral part of the national health care delivery system, equilibrium plays a very important role here. Effective, inexpensive and easily available, Unani says that the human body is maintained by the harmonious arrangement of the 7 natural and basic components called "Umoor-e-Tabiya" (fundamentals of physique) which are responsible for maintenance of health. These are the heroes and villains that play their crucial role in human life.

  • Arkan


    These are the smallest entities serving as primary building blocks. What man and the Universe, both biological and non biological, including drugs are made up of.
  • Mizaj


    This is primarily the uniform property in living things developed out of an interaction between elements.
  • Akhlat


    This is the manifestation of mode and mood in living beings resulting from an interaction of elements. This provides the qualitative yardstick for assessing the status of health.
  • A’za


    This essentially denotes the physical containment of the essential body.
  • Arwah


    Vital Spirit
    These are subtle substances that have vitality and act as the carrier of dynamic physiological forces.
  • Quwa


    These are the physiological powers to perform the basic functions of the organism i.e. life, sensation, movement, nutrition, and reproduction.
  • Af’aal


    These mean the functions of various organs and organ systems.

Areas of expertise in Unani system of medicine

Unani System is part of the knowledge of indigenous cultures, which has stood the test of time. The system has shown remarkable results in curing aliments such as Gastrointestinal, Musculo skeletal, Respiratory conditions, Skin & Blood, Liver, Nervous system and several other acute and chronic diseases where other systems have failed to give a desired response. Now the system has transcended national boundaries and is popular among the masses globally.

Ailments Heald
The patient’s physical appearance is the first highlight, telling the Unani Physician a lot about his/her ailments. Enquiries about dietary intake, excretions, symptoms, sleep and activity patterns lead to more insights and information. These form the basis of the treatment.

Each of the four elements ("arkan") has its own special qualities: Earth is cold and dry; Water is cold and moist; Fire is hot and dry; Air is hot and moist. The resultant quality of the uniform body is called its "mizaj". The temperament of a substance may be a "mizaj-e-mutadil" (balanced one) or a "mizaj-e-ghair-mutadil" (imbalanced one).

Different types and shades of imbalanced temperaments are described in Unani, which believes that at birth every person is endowed with a unique and healthy humoural constitution determining the temperament of an individual.Unani also postulates that the body contains a self-preservative power, which strives to restore any disturbance within the limits prescribed by the constitution or state of the individual. The physician merely aims to help and develop rather than supersede or impede the action of this power.

Since in Unani, health and disease depend upon the equilibrium or imbalance between the four humours.However, the most distinctive feature of diagnosis in the Unani system is its emphasis on diagnosing the disease through "Nabz" (pulse): a rhythmic expansion of arteries, a thorough examination of the pulse is undertaken to determine which humour is dominant at the time which is felt by fingers along with other pre requisite diagnostic methods. Besides, it gives due importance to the surroundings and the ecological conditions on the state of health.

The examination of the urine is the next important step. Its colour, taste, viscosity, whether it has froth on its surface, if the bubbles formed are large, indicating balgham, or small, indicating safra, are scrutinised. The stool is also examined in a similar way.Some Unani physicians also examine the blood pressure and use stethoscopes to study the breathing and heart sounds.


There are three modes of treatment in Unani system:

  • Regimental Therapy

    Use of exercise, climate change,
    massage, venesection, leaching, cupping,
    diet therapy etc.

  • Pharmacotherapy

    Use of extracts of plant, animal and mineral origin, either alone or in combination.

  • Surgery

    Surgical intervention in treatment as the
    last resort.

Unani is unmatched in treating chronic diseases like arthritis, asthma, mental, cardiac and digestive disorders, urinal infections, and of course sexual diseases.

Hakim Ajmal Khan percieved the concept of research in Unani medicing in the 1920's. However it was Hakim Abdul Hameed, who under the Hamdard enterprise set up a modern laboratory and subjected the various drugs to laboratory tests bringing the Unani system of medicine on modern scientific lines for the first time. He realized that the growth of Hamdard was heavily dependent on its constant research into new products and the enhancement of those products already in the market.

Hamdard undertook extensive research, collected widely recognized formulations, standardized them and arranged them in proper order. This was subsequently published as the Hamdard pharmacopoeia (Qarabadin-e-Hamdard). The organization’s research strategy and implementation are well supported by a strong intellectual property team that has immense expertise and experience.

Research in Unani Medicine

Deploying modern research tools and latest scientific methods to further the frontiers of natural medicine - especially Unani, Hamdard constantly undertakes pharmacological studies on herbs to revive, test and make old formulations more effective.

Research in Unani medicine received a major enhancement with the setting up of Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) by the Govt. of India (GOI). Hamdard’s research capability has not only paid rich dividends in terms of wellness, but also earned for the company an enviable reputation for quality and capability.

The council today is engaged in multi-modal research activities including Clinical research, Drug Standardization research, Literary research, Survey and cultivation of medicinal plants and Information, Education and Communication programs.

Research in Unani Medicine

Unani system of medicine- the next wave

In today’s day and age, there are over 40 undergraduate and postgraduate colleges teaching Unani medicine in India.

Postgraduate courses in Unani offer MD degrees in "Ilm-ul Advia" (pharmacology), "Moalijat" (medicine), "Kulliyat" (basic principles), "Jarahat" (surgery), "Amraz-e- Niswan" (gynaecology), "Tahaffuz-i-wa-samaji-tibb" (preventive and social medicine) and "Amraz-e-Atfal" (paediatrics).

There are over 250 Unani hospitals (With bed strength of over 4,562 beds), 1,200 Unani Dispensaries and 52,000 practicing Hakims spread across 18 states of India with more than 400 Unani pharmacies. Unani forms an integral part of the National Healthcare Delivery system and is recognised by the WHO, for it is inexpensive, therapeutically effective, largely free from side effects and easily available.

The Indian Medicine Central Council (IMCC) Act of 1970 has been implemented in India for regulating education and practice in the Unani system of medicine. Unani healing has gained increased popularity and is vibrant and vigorously alive today and is being practiced, taught and researched under its local names in over 20 countries like China, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, UK, USA etc. The understanding of the composition, regulation, safety, and efficacy of Unani medicines has been widely appreciated and accepted all over the globe now.

Herb gardens, nursery of medicinal plants, experimental and field scale cultivation are the major initiatives taken by us at Hamdard for the improvement of medicine.

Tremendous progress has been registered in the development of medicines. Yet, medicinal plants still continue to be an important source of drugs throughout the world.


Hamdard is one of the largest users of diversified herbs, and the pharmacology department ensures the proper identity of raw materials by macroscopic and microscopic evaluation. Each herb is photo-documented and a reference herbarium is available for authentic identification.

Isolation and Characterization
of Marker Compounds

Marker compounds are required for the standardization of herbal raw materials and formulations. Research and Development department at Hamdard is also engaged in maintaining the Marker Compounds Library to enable the analysis by sophisticated instruments.

New Product Development

  • Formulation development at Hamdard starts with literature search.
  • Proper rationale of ingredients is worked out and prototype formulation is developed.
  • Standardization of analytical parameters for raw material and formulations established.
  • Stability studies are conducted in accelerated and real conditions to ensure efficacy and safety
  • Data evaluation for suitability of formulation for desired therapeutic uses.
  • Technology transfer for manufacturing the product.
  • Post marketing surveillance to get customer’s feedback.