History of Islamic(Unani) Medicine
History of Islamic Medicine in its true context, can thus be defined as a body of knowledge of Medicine that was inherited by the Muslims in the early phase of Islamic History (40-247 AH/661-861 AD) from mostly Greek sources, but to which became added medical knowledge from, Persia, Syria, India and Byzantine.
This knowledge was not only to become translated into Arabic, the literary and scientific lingua franca of the time, but was to be expounded, assimilated, exhaustively added to and subsequently codified, and 'islamicized'. The Physicians of the times both Muslim and Non-muslim were then to add to this, their own observations and experimentation and convert it into a flourishing and practical science, thus helping in not only curing the ailments of the masses, but increasing their standards of health.
The effects of its domineering influence extending not only in the vast stretches of the Islamic lands, but also in all adjoining nations including Europe, Asia, China, and the Far East. The span measurable not only for few centuries, but perhaps for an entire millennium, 610 to 1610 AD. During which time, Europe and rest of the extant civilized nations of the world were in grips of the 'dark ages'.
It also was to set the standards of hygiene, and preventative medicine and thus was responsible for the improvement of the general health of the masses. It was to hold sway until decadence finally set in, concomitant with the political decline of the Islamic nation. With the advent of Renaissance in Europe, at the beginning of the 17th Century AD, it was finally challenged by the new and emerging science of modern medicine, which was to finally replace it in most of the countries, including the countries of its birth !
Origin and Development
UNANI system of medicine owes its origin to Greece (Unan in Arabic=Greece). It was the Greek philosopher-physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC) who freed Medicine from the realm of superstition and magic, and gave it the status of Science. The theoretical framework of Unani Medicine is based on the teachings of Hippocrates. After a number of other Greek scholars had enriched the system considerably, Galen (131-210 AD) stands out as one who stabilized its foundation.
On this foundations islamic physicians like Al-Razi (Rhazes) (850-925 AD) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037 AD) Al Zahravi (Albucasis) the surgeon and Ibn-Nafis (to name only a few) constructed an imposing edifice. Unani medicine got enriched by imbibing what was best in the contemporary systems of traditional medicine in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, India, China and other Middle East and far East countries. The Unani system received great impetus during the reign of the Abbasids and became a respectable and 'rational' science
In India, Unani system of medicine was introduced by Arabs, and soon it took firm roots in the soil. When Mongols ravaged Persian and Central Asian cities like Shiraz, Tabrez and Geelan, scholars and physicians of Unani Medicine fled to India. The Delhi Sultan, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs and the Mughal Emperors provided state patronage to the scholars and even enrolled some as state employees and court physicians. During the 13th and 17th century Unani Medicine had its hey-day in India. Among those who made valuable contributions to this system into period were Abu Bakr Bin Ali Usman Ksahani, Sadruddin Damashqui, Bahwa bin Khwas Khan, Ali Geelani, Akbal Arzani and Mohammad Hashim Alvi Khan.
The scholars and physicians of Unani Medicine who settled in India were not content with the known drugs. They subjected Indian drugs to clinical trials. As a result of their experimentation added numerous native drugs to their own system further enriching its treasures.
During the British rule, Unani Medicine suffered a setback and its development was hampered due to withdrawal of governmental patronage. Since the system enjoyed faith among the masses it continued to be practiced. It was mainly the Sharifi family in Delhi, the Azizi family in Luchnow and the Nizam of Hyderbad due to whose efforts Unani Medicine survived during the British period. An outstanding physician and scholar of Unani Medicine, Hakim Ajmal Khan (1868-1927) championed the cause of the system in India.
The development of Unani Medicine as well as other Indian systems of medicine gained considerable momentum after independence. Even prior to independence, several committees were appointed which underscored the future role to be played by the indigenous systems of medicine.
The government established in 1969 a Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (CCRIMH) to develop scientific research in different branches of Indian systems of medicine viz Unani Medicine, Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. the research activities in these systems continued under the aegis of the CCRIMH till 1978 when it was split up into four separate research Councils, one each for Unani Medicine, Ayurveda and Siddha, Yoga and Naturopathy and Homeopathy.
This was done to further develop these systems in consonance with the basic philosophies of the respective systems. Ever since its establishment, the Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) has been making concerted efforts to provide scientific basis to this age-old system and to come up with viable solutions to the health problems of the people.
In order to streamline education and regulate practice in the Indian systems of medicine, the Government set up by an Act of Parliament, Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970, the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM).
At present the Unani systems of medicine, with its own recognized practitioners, hospitals and educational and research institutions, forms an integral part of the national health care system. Today, India is considered a world leader in Unani Medicine. The Government is providing increasing support and funds for the multipronged development of Unani Medicine to draw the fullest advantage of this system in providing health care to the masses. It is hoped that the spread of Unani and other Indian systems of medicine will help realize the cherished goal of Health for all by the year 2000.
UNANI Medicine, as said earlier, is based on the principles put forward by Hippocrates and exploited asssimalated by the Medeaval Muslim Physicians. Hippocrates was the first person to establish that disease was a natural process, that its symptoms were the reactions of the body to the disease, and that the chief function of the physician was to aid the natural forces of the body. He was the first physician to introduce the method of taking medical histories. His chief contribution to the medical reals in the humoral theory.
The humoral theory presupposes the presence of four humors-Dam (blood), Balgham (phlegm), Safra (yellow bile) and Sauda (black bile)- in the body. The temperaments of persons are expressed by the words sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic according to the preponderance in them of the respective humors blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The humors themselves are assigned temperaments: blood is hot and moist, phlegm cold and moist, yellow bile hot and dry, and black bile cold and dry.
Every person is supposed to have a unique humoral constitution which represents his healthy state. And to maintain the correct humoral balance there is a power of self-preservation or adjustment called Quwwat-e-Mudabbira (medicatrix naturae) in the body. If this powder weakens, imbalance in the humoral composition is bound to occur. And this causes disease. In Unani Medicine, great reliance is placed in this power.
The medicines used in this system, in fact, help the body to regain this power to an optimum level and thereby restore humoral balance, thus retaining health. Also, correct diet and digestion are considered to maintain humoral balance.
Another distinctive feature of the Unani system of medicine is its emphasis on diagnosing a disease through Nabz (pulse), arrhythmic expansion of arteries which is felt by fingers. Other methods of diagnosis include examination of Baul (urine), Baraz (stool) etc.
Prevention of Disease
Unani system of medicine recognizes the influence of surroundings and ecological conditions on the state of health of human beings. This system aims at restoring the equilibrium of various elements and faculties of the human body. It has laid down six essential pre-requisites for the prevention of diseases and places great emphasis, on the on hand, on the maintenance of proper ecological balance and, on the other, on keeping water, food and air free from pollution. These essentials, known as 'Asbab-e-Sitta Zarooriya' are air, food and drinks, bodily movement and repose, psychic movement and repose, sleep and wakefulness, and exertion and retention.
In Unani system of medicine various types of treatment are employed, such as Ilajbit-Tadbeer (regimental therapy), Haj bil-Ghiza (dietotherapy), Haj bid-Dawa (pharmacotherapy) and Jarhat (surgery). The regimental therapy include venesection, cupping, diaphoresis, diuresis, Turkish bath, massage, cauterization, purging, emesis, exercise, leeching etc. Dietotherapy aims at treating certain ailments by administration of specific diets of by regulating the quantity and quality of food.
On the other hand pharmacotherapy deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs, mostly herbal. Though drugs of animal and mineral origin are also used. Similarly, surgery has also been in use in this system for quite long. In fact, the ancient physicians of Unani Medicine were pioneers in this field and had developed their own instruments and techniques.
In Unani Medicine, single drugs or their combinations in raw form are preferred over compound formulation. The system offers time-tested and excelled remedies for gastrointestinal cardiovascular and nervous disorders. The naturally occurring drugs used in this system are symbolic of life and generally free from side-effects. And such drugs which are toxic in crude form are processed and purified in many ways before use. Since in this system, great importance is attached to the temperament of the individual, the medicines administered are such that go well with the temperament of the patient. Thus accelerating the process of recovery.
The concept of research in Unani system of medicine was originally perceived by Masih-ul-Mulk Ajmal Khan in 1920's. A versatile genius of his time, Hakim Ajmal Khan very soon realized the importance of research, and his inquisitive nature spotted Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, an eminent chemist, to materialize his dreams. Dr. Siddiqui, who was engaged in research work at the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, Delhi well undertook the task visualized by the Masih-ul-Mulk.
Dr. Siddiqui's discovery of medicinal properties of a plant, commonly known as Asrol (Pagal Booti), led to sustained research which established the unique efficiency of this plant, known all over the world as Rauwolfia serpentine, in neurogasular and nervous disorders, such as hypertension, insanity, schizophrenia, hysteria, insomnia, psychosomatic conditions ect.
Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine
The Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) an autonomous organization set up in 1978 under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India is engaged in developing independent and multidimensional research into various fundamental and applied aspects of Unani system of medicine. The Council is fully financed by the Government of India and over the years has made great strides in its research programme.
The research programme of the Council, which is being pursued at its 32 institutes/units functioning in different parts of the country, has been so devised that the system could stand on solid scientific foundations and be acceptable to the scientific world; its benefits could be extended to the common man, particularly the undeserved living in rural and far-flung areas. Greater emphasis is being placed on achieving national priorities. the areas of research chosen by the Council include clinical research, standardization of single and compound drugs, literary research, survey and cultivation of medicinal plants, and family welfare research.
The clinical research programme of the Council aims at critical appraisal of the theory of pathogenesis, symptomatology, clinical methods of diagnosis and prognosis, principles, lines and methods of treatment enunciated in the classical texts of Unani system of medicine. The programme has been taken up with a view to providing economically cheap and effective remedies for common as well as chronic ailments. Concerted efforts are being made to scientifically establish the therapeutic efficacy of various Unani drugs which have been in use for centuries. The Council has therefore, taken up both disease and drug based trials.
The diseases on which clinical trials are going on in the institutes and units of the Council include Bars (Vitiligo), Nar-e-Farsi (Eczema), Daussadaf (Psoriasis), Iltehab-e-Kabid (Infective hepatitis), Hasat-ul-Kuliya wa Masana (Renal and bladder calculus), Qarah-e-Meda wa Asna-e-Ashari (Gastric and duodenal ulcer), Ishal-e-Muzmin (Chronic diarrhea), Ishal-e-Atfal (Infantile Diarrhea), Deedan-e-Ama (Helminthiasis), Humma-e-Ijamia (Malaria), Zusantaria Mevi (Amebic dysentery), Ziabetus, Sukkari (Diabetes mellitus), Waja-ul-Mafasil (Rheumatoid arthritis), Iltehab-e-Tajaweef-e-Anf (Sinusitis), Seeq-un-Nafas (Brachial asthma) and Sailanur Rahem (Leucorrhoea). On these 18 problems 55 combinations of Unani drugs are being clinically tested.
The Council's Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine at Hyderabad has attained international fame for its research work on the successful treatment of Bars (Vitligo). Since its inception in 1972 the Institute has treated about 35,000 patients for this disease. Similarly, the Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine at Madras has become famous for curing Daul fell (filariasis). The Council has also taken significant lead in the treatment of Hepatitis, Bronchial Asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sinusitis, Eczema and Psoriasis.
The Council has conducted cupping experiments on several patients of rheumatoid arthritis and other joint pains at different centres, which have yielded encouraging results. Under its mobile clinical research programme, the researchers of the Council make door-to-door surveys in these areas mainly to register cases of different ailments. The researchers also provide free medical treatment to the ailing people, near their doorsteps, and thus serve as a potential source of health care for the masses.
Besides, the Council's researchers conduct health check-ups of school children, particularly in rural areas, provide free treatment to those suffering from different disorders and promote health consciousness among them. The Council's workers also take active part in medical aid-cum-relief operations during epidemics and calamities.
The programme of drug standardization is mainly concerned with evolving standards of single and compound Unani drugs of proven efficacy included in the National Formulary of Unani Medicine for their incorporation in the official Unani Pharmacopoeia of India.
Standardization of single drugs includes scientific documentation, pharmacognosy and phytochemistry of the drugs. Undertaken in order to establish standards for the drugs as well as the methods of their manufacture. Such type of work has been undertaken for the first time in the history of Unani Medicine.
The Council has so far been able to finalize standards for 180 single and 380 compound drugs.
A monograph entitled "Physicochemical standards of Unani Formulations," in three volumes, each having standards for 100 drugs, has been brought out on the standardization of Unani formulations. Besides, another publication entitled "Standardization of single Drugs of Unani Medicine" in two volumes, each having standards for 50 single drugs, has been published by the Council. Yet another book entitled 'Chemistry of Medicinal Plants" has also been published.
Survey of Medicinal Plants
The survey of medicinal plants programme of the Council envisages systematic survey of various forest areas/ranges for the collection of medicinal plants used in Unani system.
Under this programme experimental cultivation of such plants as are rare or imported at present, but can be cultivated in India, is being undertaken.
Survey of different forest areas in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have been undertaken for collecting information on their medicinal flora. So far around 43,000 plant specimens have been collected, out of which around 26,000 have provisionally been identified. Besides mounting the herbarium sheets of 32,000 plant specimens, 1000 drug specimens have also been collected and preserved.
A special programme has been launched for the ethnobotanical exploration of the areas surveyed. Special attention has been paid to the anthropology, geography, geology, ecology etc. of various tribal communities residing in the deep pockets of forest areas. The Council has also collected 7,200 folk claims for different ailments.
Greater importance is being attached to the procurement of genuine herbal Unani drugs. Experimental cultivation of some Unani drug plants to study their yield, adaptability and response to verbalization, watering, spacing and manuring, is being carried out at the Council's centres at Aligarh, Lucknow, Madras and Srinagar. Considerable progress has been achieved in the cultivation of some important medicinal plants such as Aatrilal (Ammi majus L.), Asal-us Soos (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), Gulnar Farsi (Punica granatum L.) (abortive variety), Kawnch (Mucuna prurita Hook.), Satawar (Asparagus racemosus Willd.) etc.
Cultivation of some other medicinal plants including Aspghol (Plantago ovata Forsk), Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Babbonah (Matricaria chamomilla L.), Kasni (Cichorium intybus L.), Khatmi (Althea officinalis L.), Khubbazi (Malva sylvestris L.) etc. is also being undertaken with a view to meeting the demands of the Council's clinical research units.
The Council has published three monographs on the medicinal plants of various regions with the titles "Contribution to the Medicinal Plants of Aligarh", Medicinal Plants of Gwalior Forest Division" and "Contribution to the Medicinal Plants of North Arcot District-Tamil Nadu.
The Council is making efforts to develop the Central Herb Garden and Museum into a major centre for collection, preservation and display of genuine Unani medicinal plants for their exact identification and for providing authentic information on them. About 236 perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees are being maintained round the year and 50 annual medicinal herbs are being cultivated during the appropriate seasons. Besides, 325 drug specimens have been classified, labeled and displayed in the museum.
The literary research programme of the Council includes editing, compilation and translation of rare manuscripts of Unani system of medicine. This programme is being carried out through a Literary Research Institute of Unani Medicine in New Delhi.
The Council has published some very rare books of Unani Medicine such as Kitab-al-Kulliyat by Ibn Rushd (Averoes) (Arabic text and Urdu translation in separate volumes), Kitab-al Abdal by Zakaria Razi (Rhazes) (Arabic text, Urdu translation and explanatory notes), Aina-e-Sarguzisht (biography of Avicenna), Kitab-al-Tailsir by Ibn Zohar (Avenzoar) (Urdu translation), Kitab-al-Umda fil Jarahat vol. I & II by Ibn-al-Quf Masihi (Urdu translation), Uyoon-al-Amba fi Tabaqat-il-Atibba by Ibn-e-Abi Usaiba (Urdu translation) and Kitabal Mansuri by Zakaria Razi (Rhazes) (Urdu translation).
Family Welfare Research
The Council has embarked upon a programme to clinically screen the oral contraceptive agents described in the classical literature of Unani system of medicine. This programme aims at finding out an effective, potent, cheap and safe Unani oral contraceptive free from side-effects.
Presently, four combinations of Unani oral contraceptive drugs are being clinically screened. The studies carried out so far have ensured increase in the inter-pregnancy period in those women of reproductive age group who hitherto did not have access to the family planning network. The Council has also published a book entitled "The concept of Birth Control in Unani Medicine" compiled on the basis of references available in Unani classics.
Collection and Dissemination of Information
In order to gather the scattered literature on Unani Medicine and allied sciences, and make available at one place the recent advances in these disciplines, an Information Centre is functioning at the Council's headquarters.
The Council publishes its research work in the form of books, monographs, reports, etc. It brings out a bimonthly CCRUM News letter in English to highlight its activities which is circulated in many parts of the country and abroad. The Council has so far brought out 60 publications.
The Council encourages its working scientist to exchange ideas and discuss the research work being undertaken at different centres. The Council has, since its inception, organized several seminars and workshops. The Council's researchers have also been attending several international as well as national conferences, seminars and symposia on Unani and other traditional systems of medicine. So far the Council's researchers have produced a total of 700 research papers. These papers have been presented at different seminars and workshops organized by the Council as well as other agencies.
Besides, the Council has organized a number of exhibitions on such occasions to introduce its activities and achievements to the general public. The Council also participates in exhibitions and fairs, organized by other institutions, including the World Book Fair.
Unani system of medicine is quite popular among the masses. The practitioners of Unani Medicine, scattered all over the country, form structure. According to available official figures, there are 35,350 registered Unani practitioners in the country. Of them, 13,116 are institutionally qualified. Besides, a large number of unregistered practitioners are dispersed all over the country who practice Unani Medicine on hereditary basis.
Presently, 11 States have Unani hospitals. The total number of hospitals functioning in different states of the country is 105. Out of these, 95 are run by Government agencies and 10 by other organizations. The total bed strength in all the hospitals in 1914.
Fourteen States in country have Unani dispensaries. The total number of Unani dispensaries is 954. Out of which, 780 are being run by Government agencies, 169 by local bodies and three by other organizations.
Seven dispensaries two in Andhra Pradesh, one each in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal and three in Delhi are functioning under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) which mainly cater to the health needs of the Central Government employees. Established of CGHS dispensaries in other parts of the country is also underway.
The manufacture of Unani drugs is being regulated through Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 as amended from time to time. The pharmacopoeia standards are being finalized in respect of single and compound drugs. There is a permanent Unani Pharmacopoeia Committee under the Government of India in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which consists of experts in Unani Medicine, chemists, botanists and pharmacologists.
This committee has already finalized part I of the National formulary of Unani Medicine containing 441 compound formulations which has since been published in English and Urdu languages. This is considered a step forward in securing uniformity based on authentic Unani literature. There is an Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board which monitors the enforcement of Drugs and Cosmetics Act over the Unani drugs as well.
An advisory committee, the Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani Drugs consultative Committee, has also been constituted to advise the Central Government, the State Governments and the Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board on any matter for the purpose of securing uniformity in the administration of Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
The education and training facilities in Unani system of medicine are presently being monitored by the Central Council of India Medicine which is a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament known as Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970. At present, there are 25 recognized colleges of Unani Medicine in the country which provide education and training facilities in the system.
These colleges of Unani Medicine in the country which provide education and training facilities in the system. These colleges have a total admission capacity of about 950 students per year for undergraduate courses. They are either Government institutions or set up by voluntary organizations. All these educational institutions are affiliated to different universities. The curriculum prescribed the Central Council of Indian Medicine is followed by these institutions.
Postgraduate education and research facilities are also available in the subjects of Ilmul Advia (Pharmacology), Moalijat (Medicine) and Kulliyat (Basic Principles) at Ajmal Khan Tibbia College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and in the subjects of Moalijat (Medicine) and Amraz-e-Niswan (Gynecology) and Amraz-e-Atfal (Pediatrics) at Government Nizamiah Tibbi College, Hyderabad.
The Hamdard Tibbi College, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi has also recently started postgraduation in Moalijat (Medicine) and Ilmul Advia (Pharmacology). The total admission capacity to these courses in all these colleges is 50.
National Institute of Unani Medicine
In accordance with its decision in 1975, to establish separate National Institutes for the various Indian Systems of medicine, the Government has set up a National Institute of Unani Medicine at Bangalore in collaboration with Government of Karnataka.
A principal institution of Unani Medicine in the country, the Institute will serve as a demonstrable model of teaching, training and research in the system.