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Unani doctors in Kolkata or Yunani medicine is a Perso-Arabic traditional medicine which was widely practiced in Mughal India, Muslim culture in South Asia and modern-day central Asia as an alternative medicine. Unani medicine is also known as Unani Tibb, Arabian medicine or Islamic Medicine. It is a traditional system of healing and health maintenance observed in South Asia. The origin of Unani medicine is found in the doctrines of the ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen and it was later developed and refined through systematic experiment by Arabs most prominently by Muslim scholar-physician Avicenna.

Origin and Development of the Unani System of Medicine

The references of the origin of Unani is found in ancient Greek culture and later on, it was widely spread throughout different geographical belts in different cultures:

  1. Greek period
  2. Arab-Persian period
  3. Spanish period
  4. Indian period

Concept of Health:

According to Unani medicine, health is contemplated as a state of the body with humor in equilibrium and normal body functions. One’s health is considered to be based on six essential elements:

  1. Air
  2. Drinks and food
  3. Sleep and wakefulness
  4. Excretion and retention
  5. Physical activity and retention
  6. Mental activity and rest

Modes of Treatment:

There are three different methods of treatment in the Unani system:

  1. Regimental therapy – Use of exercise, climate change, massage, leaching, cupping, diet therapy etc.
  2. Pharmacotherapy – use of drugs of plant, animal and mineral origin, either alone or in combination.
  3. Surgery – Surgical intervention in treatment as last resort.


The Unani system has not gained much recognition or popularity in the modern world because the quantity and quality of the safety and efficacy data on Unani medicines are far from sufficient to meet the criteria needed to support its worldwide use.

Unani Medicine, the Indian Scenario:

Unani Education System in India:

The Central Council of Indian Medicine (Govt. of India) administered The Unani Medicine education in India. Forty-three colleges grant five and a half years’ Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) degree. The BUMS courses are either affiliated by the universities or are run by the deemed university itself. BUMS course also includes a one-year rotatory internship. The postgraduate degrees are also available in the field of Pharmacology (Ilmul Advia), Medicine (Moalijat), Surgery (Jarrahivat), Gynaecology (Qabala-wa-Amraz-e-Niswan), Hygiene (Hifzan-e-Sehat), Basic Principles (Kulliyat), etc.

The professional practice of Unani in India:

Unani graduates take Professional practice after registration with a duly constituted government registration board/council. They work with government or private establishments as Unani medical officers, research officers, clinical registrars, teaching staff members, manufacturing chemists and as Unani drug inspectors with drug control authorities. Some of the graduates and postgraduates serve in the funded-research projects as research fellows or research associates.

Research and Development of Unani in India:

The academic research is mostly undertaken by Post-Graduates-in-training under the supervision of Unani academicians, sometimes in collaboration with experts from other fields such as pharmacy, modern medicine and science. Dept. of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) under the Central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is involved in the extra-mural research project funding to academic departments in Unani Institutes.

Final Thoughts:

Unani system of medicine is one of the most ancient frameworks of medicine and the presence of this framework till now itself is proof of the legitimacy of its standards. However, the essence of any science is progress based on a persistent journey for new knowledge through research, development and newer applications. Unani medicine also is not an exception to this. With the same reason, Government of India established a Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine to develop this system in its own theoretical framework.

Today, it practices in several parts of Asia and is spreading its wings in other corners of the world as well. As such, one can say that the Unani medicine scope is huge and promising.

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