Unani Medicine and Diet for Good Health

Unani Medicine and Diet for Good Health

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In the traditions of Unani Medicine Health is primarily maintained by balanced food in the right quality and quantity. Intake of food too is balanced by removal of waste through excretion. However, excretion does not get rid of all waste; there remains residues in the body that keep accumulating over time. These toxins have bad effects on the body: their by-products too harm the body, their accumulation in larger quantity leads to diseases.

Unani Medicine Diet Detox

The process of detoxification is carried out to rid the body of the accumulated toxins. Administered over a period of a few days, the individual shuns from the regular daily diet and takes in food and drink that will induce detoxification.

During which diarrhea, nosebleed, perspiration, urination, or vomiting may occur. There are numerous regimens prescribed by Unani Medicine Hakims for detoxification by food ingestion or administration of enemas; however, detoxification should not be carried out more than once a year.

Therapeutic Unani Medicine Diet

All individuals have different needs at different times (age) in their lives. For instance, the types of diets that should be followed for infants, pregnant and breastfeeding women, adults, and elderly individuals varies a lot. Consequently, diseases often manifests from the excesses or imbalances in diet for each age group.

The therapeutic diet of Unani Medicine medicine is focused to restore balance by providing the proper food that suits the individual’s requirement of his or her digestive system. Such a diet essentially entails:

  • the elimination of unsuitable food, low-quality or contaminated food
  • excesses of one type of food and unhealthful mixtures
  • reduction in the number of meals
  • introduction of foods stimulating digestion, breathing, circulation, such as spices, vegetables, and oils.

Unani Medicine products (Dawa’)

Treating with medications (botanical, zoological, and metallic substances) is the second choice for treatment after diet. Unani Medicine use of herbs is extensive and is well documented in many old texts that are still in current use. Moreover, these treatments cover almost all known diseases. Unani Medicine hakims use single and compound formulas as well as internal and external applications for such treatments.

Unani Medicine Treatment Guidelines

There are three rules to treating with medications:

  1. the first is to know the temperament of the medication (hot, cold, moist, dry);
    This follows the diagnosis of illness, and as a rule, the medication is opposite in its temperament to that of the disease.
  2. the second, to determine the quantity to be given to the patient and its effect (warming/cooling, drying/wetting);
    The nature and function of diseased organ, is considered to determine the quantity of the medication.
  3. the third, to determine the most effective time of its administration.

Unani Medicine Treatment using Aromatic Oil

Use of aromatic oil and alcohol extracts is a mainstay feature in Unani Medicine treatments. Unani Medicine Pioneers even invented steam distillation of rose oil; alcohol extraction and preservation of active ingredients of botanicals was earlier discovered by Arab chemists and put to use by hakims.

Herbal treatments can be delivered in a number of ways, including capsules, conserve, decoction, essence, fomentation, infusion, ointment, oxymel, plaster, poultice, salve, suppository, syrup, and tincture.

Unani Medicine Therapy Procedures (‘elaj)

Cupping (hijameh)

It is an externally applied application of vacuum suction to the skin to draw humors to the surface away from an organ or an area. It is used for treatment of an inflammation and for detoxification. The type of disease determines the location of cupping; for example, cupping on the heels is beneficial for amenorrhea, varicose veins, and gout, whereas cupping on the sides of the neck affects the organs of the head. Cupping is not advised for people over 60 years of age.

Enema (houknaeh)

It is a proven method for emptying the intestines (especially after vomiting), reducing kidney and bladder pain and enlargement, and detoxifying the upper organs. A harsh enema, however, may weaken the liver and produce fever.

Massage (tadleek) and Bathing (istihmam)

These procedures are usually administered in a warm bathhouse, the hammam, which is usually built on a freshwater source, and starts with a vigorous cleansing rub with a soapy loofa (leefeh), usually from a dried fruit of the Luffa plant, or a linen mitt. After a good rinse, an oil massage is performed with the fingers and palm using various pressures depending on the treatment goals.


Blood humor is purged through a procedure of bloodletting from a vein called venesection (fassd). There are two main conditions that require venesection: (1) excess of blood, and (2) low quality of blood.
However, venesection also should be carried out at the early signs of some diseases such as varicose vein, gout, joint pain, high blood pressure, epilepsy, and melancholy.
Use of leeches (al’alaq) is another method of bloodletting. Leeches are placed on the skin of the patient. They attach to the skin by their oral suckers, remain there until they are full, and then fall off to digest the blood. This method is still in use today in both East and West.

Cauterization (alkaiy)

This essentially involves application of heated metal or a corrosive directly to the skin surface. It is considered a treatment of last resort because of its harsh effects. One of the main purposes of its use is to prevent disease from spreading to healthy parts of the body. However, it is also applied to infected areas and unhealthy flesh, and is used to strengthen weak parts.

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