Unani Medicine & Health Tourism

Unani medicine is an alternative approach to medical treatment that is practiced largely in India and whose principles are not dissimilar from those of Ayurvedic medicine. The philosophy behind the approach is said to be based on the teachings of Hippocrates, Avicenna and Galen.

Unani medicine holds that the human body is comprised of four humors that determine an individual’s personality, body type and other mental and physical characteristics. These four humors are: balgham, which corresponds with phlegm; dam, or blood; safra, or yellow bile and sauda, or black bile. Sickness and disease are said to result from imbalances in these humors.

A Unani practitioner will diagnose a patient’s condition in terms of a surplus or deficit of one or more of the four humors and attempt to address symptoms and ultimately cure a condition by administering herbs capable of reestablishing harmony between balgham, dam, safra and sauda. Herbs used are very similar to those used in Ayurveda treatment and similarities are often drawn between the concept of the four humors and that of the tridosha system in Ayurvedic medicine.

Besides the use of herbs for treatment, Unani medicine employs a variety of other techniques intended to cleanse the body and restore humor balance. These techniques include: mushil (purging), taareeq (sweating), hammam (bath therapy), munzij (ripening), mahajim (cupping) and riyazat (exercise).

Of these, purging is among the most common as Unani medicine often considers imbalances to be the result of metabolic changes in the body. Mushil attempts to convert the impurities formed from these changes into tangible matter that can be expelled from the body by the purging process.

Outside of India, Unani practitioners can be difficult to locate. The US has a small number, some of which have been trained at the American College of Unani Medicine. However, since there is no regulation of the industry, practitioners are not required to have any formal teaching or qualifications in the discipline.