Principles Concepts and Definition

Unani is a comprehensive medical system that deals with the treatment of various states of health and ailments. It focuses on promotive, curative, preventive, and rehabilitative healthcare. The diagnosis and treatment of this system of medicine are based on various holistic concepts and scientific principles of health and healing. It takes into account the relationship between an individual and his environment, emphasizing on the health of the mind, body, and soul. In the Unani system of medicine, Temperament, or Mijaz of an individual plays an important role. The temperament is taken into consideration while curating the most suitable diet and lifestyle for the individual in question. In the Unani system of medicine, some important parts of treatment are Nutraceutics, Aromatics, Cosmoceutics, and corresponding therapies.

As per Avicenna, one of the greatest scholars of the Unani Tabb (medicine); Tabb is the science that teaches us about the various states of the human body, when in health and not in health. Also, it tells us the means by which health is prone to be lost and the means to restore the same. The four-humour theory of Hippocrates acts as the base for the Unani system of medicine. It presumes the presence of four humours in the human body that are: phlegm, blood, black bile, and yellow bile. The human body comprises seven core components which are as follows: 


There are four elements that make up the human body: Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. For each element/arkan, there is a different temperament. Air has a hot and moist temperament and the earth has a cold and dry temperament. The temperament of fire is hot and dry, and that of water is cold and moist. 


In the Unani system of medicine, the temperament of an individual plays an important role as each individual’s temperament is unique. In the diagnosis and treatment of the Unani system, temperament acts as the base.  The classification and evaluation of various temperaments are based on the amalgamation of four humours in the blood in different quantities, which is why blood plays a crucial role in the foundation of Mijaz. Thus, Mijaz in Unani helps characterize a person’s physical, mental, and social state and also identifies the nature of a disease. 


Humours are the fluids in the human body that produce energy, and trigger growth, nutrition, and repair. The humours also perform the function of maintaining moisture in different organs of the human body. There are four stages of digestion that allow for the passage of food. These are: 

  • Gastric Digestion: Food is converted into chyme and chyle, and is carried to the liver through the mesenteric veins. 
  • Hepatic Digestion: The chyle is turned into four humours in different proportions. The proportion of blood is the largest. The blood that leaves the liver blends into the other three humours. 
  • Vessels 
  • Tissue Digestion 

With the humours flowing into the blood vessels, the retentive power and attractive power come into action. While the former accounts for the absorption of nutrition by the tissues, the latter is responsible for the retention of the nutrition. 

In the Unani system of medicine, a lot of importance is given to the diet and state of digestion of an individual for both health and disease. When the patients are treated based on their temperaments, the physicians recommend specific dietary regimens. While the proper diets are supposed to produce good humours or Akhla Sahila, the improper diets are expected to produce Akhla Radiyya, or bad humour. Any imbalance in the equilibrium of humour causes disease, which can be treated with medication and consuming a balanced diet.


Azaa are the various organs that account for the effective functioning of the human body. The health of each organ affects the overall health of the body, and any disease in the organs creates an imbalance in the health equilibrium. 


Ruh or spirit is a gaseous matter that assists in all the metabolic activities of the human body. Obtained from the inspired air, it acts as the source of energy for the effective functioning of all the organs of the body. The Ruh burns the Akhlat Latifa and produces power (quwa).


There are three types of Quwa: 

  • Quwa Tabiyah (Natural Power)

This is the power of metabolism and reproduction. The process is carried out on every tissue of the body, with the liver being the seat of this power. Metabolism is associated with the process of nutrition and growth. While nutrition comes from the food, growth power is concerned with the growth of the human body. 

  • Quwa Nafsaniyah (Psychic power)

Quwa Nafsaniyah is psychic and nervous power that is located inside the brain and is responsible for generating motive and perceptive power. While perceptive power expresses sensation or impressions, motive power enables movements in response to those sensations. 

  • Quwa Haywaniyah (Vital power)

The vital power is located in the heart and keeps the tissues functioning. It allows for all organs to accept the outcome of psychic power. 


Afaal is the movement and proper functioning of all the organs of the human body. When the body is healthy, it means that all organs are in proper shape and are functioning efficiently. 


The diagnosis in the Unani System of Medicine depends on two factors: observation and physical examination. Any illness that develops in an individual is an outcome of: 

  • What he is made of 
  • What type of temperament, structure, and faculties he possesses 
  • The factors that operate him externally 
  • Nature’s attempt to maintain his physical functions and to eliminate disruptions in the best possible manner. 

Keeping all the factors into account, the cause and nature of the disease are determined and a detailed treatment plan is chalked out. The diagnosis for the same involves a detailed investigation of the causes of the disease. For the same, the physician reads the pulse and examines the urine and stool. Pulse or Nabz is the alternative expansion and contraction of the arteries. Apart from these examinations, the physicians also make use of other conventional methods such as palpitation, percussion, inspection, and occultation to undertake the diagnosis. 

Last updated on June 5th, 2021 at 01:35 pm