Concept of Prevention of Diseases in Unani Medicine


Prevention is better than cure “Parhez ya Ehtiyaat Ilaaj se behtar haiis a unique philosophy of Unani system of medicine. It is very vital to prevent the onset of disease, before it can turn your life upside down. Unani system stresses on the importance of prevention of diseases more than its treatment. It is one of the oldest systems of medicine and existence of this system till now in different civilizations itself is an evidence of validity of its principles.

The main strength of Unani Medicine is its holistic approach, temperament based prescription and treatment of ailments. A part from that, principles of six essential factors of Life (Asbab-e- Sittah Zarooriyah) which are pivotal for perseverance and maintenance of health is also Unani system’s unique characteristic. The use of Unani drugs (mainly of plant origin), various therapeutic interventions, and regimens for prevention and treatment of diseases and health promotion is based on the concepts of holistic approach of healing considering the individual’s psycho-physical wellbeing.

The toning up of the body organs (Taqwiyat-e- A’za) and the immune system (Qoowat-e- Mdabbera-e- Badan) are unique philosophy of Unani System of Medicine known for its beneficial effects. In chronic and some of the intractable diseases, these philosophies have shown much utility in improving the quality of life of affected people.

Unani Medicine has long recognized the influence of surroundings and ecological conditions on the state of health of human beings. Apart from treating disease conditions, Unani Medicine lays great emphasis on the prevention of disease and promotion of existing health through principles of six essential factors (Asbab-e- Sittah Zarooriyah) of life. It has a theory on the six essential prerequisites for the prevention of disease and it places great emphasis on the maintenance of a proper ecological balance and on keeping water, food and air free from all pollution and pathogens. These six essential prerequisites that have been laid down by the Unani system for promotion of good health and overall well-being may be briefly explained as follows:

  1. Al Hawa (Air): Fresh, clean air is necessary for health and many diseases are said to occur owing to changes in the air. Avicena (Ibn-e- Sina), the famous Unani medicine practitioner, said that a change of environment can relieve patients of many diseases. He also emphasized the need for open, airy houses with proper ventilation and for playgrounds and gardens in the cities so that everyone could get plenty of fresh air to allow for maintenance of a proper ecological cycle.
  2. Al Maakool wa Al Mashroob (Food and Drink): Food should be hygienic, fresh and free from putrefaction and pathogens. Drinking water should also be pure.
  3. Harakat wa Sukoon-e- Badani (Physical Exercise and Repose): To maintain positive health and fitness, the body requires both exercise and rest. Inflammation and fractures require total rest for an optimum healing. On the other hand, afflictions such as paralysis demand specific types of movement. Several exercises help muscles to grow and ensure increased blood supply and proper functioning of the excretory system. Exercise also keeps the heart and liver in good condition.
  4. Harakat wa Sukoon-e- Nafsaani (Mental exertion and repose): Psychological factors such as happiness, sorrow, and anger are believed to have considerable bearing on the health of the human being. Unani medicine practitioners maintain that certain diseases and disorders are caused by emotional strain and maladjustment. Therefore, when dealing with such cases, the practitioner should try to take all these factors into account. There is a branch of Unani medicine known as “psychological treatment” that deals with the abovementioned factors, and many diseases are treated by psychological methods. Sometimes this type of treatment is used alone, while at other times it is used in conjunction with various medicines. Unani medicine practitioners have also recognized the effects of music, pleasant company and beautiful scenery.
  5. Naum wa Yaqza (Sleep and wakefulness): Normal sleep and wakefulness are essential for maintain good health. Sleep is an ideal form of rest; physical as well as mental. Lack of sleep causes dissipation of energies, mental weakness and digestive disturbances.
  6. Istifraagh wa Ehtebaas (Evacuation and retention): Waste products of the body, if not completely and properly excreted, produce disease. The natural means of excretion are diuresis, diaphoresis, vomiting, defecation, excretion through the uterus in the form of menses, excretion through the eyes, ears and nose and respiration. Proper and normal functioning of the excretory processes must be ensured in order to maintain what, in Unani medicine, is considered perfect health. Any disturbance in the normal excretory balances, whether it is excess, diminution or blockage, may lead to disease.

These essential prerequisites, referred to as Asbab-e-Sitta Zarooriya, are given utmost importance in Unani system of medicine. This system employs these basic principles in their therapy, which constitutes of the following:

  • Ilaj Bil Tadbeer (Regimental therapy) – Takes care of evacuation of waste material from the body using various means
  • Ilaj Bil Ghiza (Diet therapy) – Regulation of quantity or quality of food
  • Ilaj Bil Dawa (Pharmacotherapy) – Use of natural drugs and combinations in their formulations with minimal side effects
  • Surgery (Ilaj Bil Yad/ Jarahat) - It is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, to help improve bodily function or appearance or to repair unwanted ruptured area (for example, a perforated ear drum).

The Regimental therapy (Ilaj Bil Tadbeer) includes Vene-section (Fasd), Cupping (Hijamah), Diaphoresis (Ta’reeq), Diuresis (Idraar), Turkish bath (Hammam), Massage (Dalak), Cauterization (Kai), Purgation (Ishaal), Emesis (Qai), Exercise (Riyaazat), leeching (Ta’leeq) etc.

The Diet-o-therapy (Ilaj Bil Ghiza) aims to treat certain ailments by administration of specific diets or by regulating the quantity and quality of food.

The Pharmacotherapy (Ilaj Bil Dawa) deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs, mostly herbal, though drugs of animal and mineral origin are also used.

The Surgery (Ilaj Bil Yad/ Jarahat) 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. At present only minor surgery is in practice in this system.


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Nov 24, 2019
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Mahtab Alam Khan
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Nov 24, 2019


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