Unani Medicine Health Benefits and Uses

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Unani medicine is a system of alternative medicine that originated in ancient Greece but is now practiced primarily in India. Involving the use of herbal remedies, dietary practices, and alternative therapies, Unani medicine addresses the prevention and treatment of disease.

Almonds and spoonful of almond oil
Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images


According to practitioners of Unani medicine, achieving a balance of the bodily fluids known as "the four humors" (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) is essential to health.

Another key principle of Unani medicine is that disease results from an imbalance in air, earth, water, and fire, four elements thought to comprise all that exists in nature, including the human body.

In addition, Unani medicine is partly based on the principle that environmental conditions, including the quality of water and air,) can significantly impact health.


In Unani medicine, conditions are often treated with herbal formulas containing a variety of natural substances. For example, a formula known as Khamira Abresham Hakim Arshad Wala contains such botanicals as:

Considered a tonic, Khamira Abresham Hakim Arshad Wala is said to enhance heart health and aid in the treatment of cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and angina.

Commonly prescribed treatments in Unani medicine also include dietary changes, leech therapy, and surgery.


Unani medicine is largely based on principles proposed by such physicians as Hippocrates and Galen.

In addition, a number of Arab and Persian scholars (including the Arab philosopher and physicist Avicenna) have contributed to the development of Unani medicine.

The word "Unani" means "Greek" in Arabic. Unani medicine was introduced in India around the tenth century.

Unani medicine is somewhat similar to ayurvedic medicine, a form of alternative medicine that originated in India.


Although recent scientific research on the health effects of Unani medicine is extremely limited, there's some evidence from animal studies that certain treatments used in Unani medicine may have some benefits.


Majoon Suranjan (an herbal formula used in Unani medicine) shows promise in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, according to one study. 

In tests on rats, researchers found that Majoon Suranjan (which contains ginger, aloe vera, and other substances) may help treat rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation.


Another herbal formula used in Unani medicine, Kohl-Chikni Dawa may help protect against cataracts.

In the study, diabetic rats demonstrated that treatment with eyedrops containing Kohl-Chikni Dawa helped inhibit cataract development. Along with glaucoma, cataracts are common among people with diabetes.

Brain Health

One of the formulas widely used in Unani medicine is Khamira Abresham Hakim Arshad Wala, a preparation that contains dozens of natural substances (including saffron, cardamom, Indian bay leaf, and citron). 

It may help prevent aging-related impairments in brain function, suggests a rat-based study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2006. The study's authors determined that the antioxidant-rich formula may help preserve brain health by protecting against the harmful effects of free radicals.

Side Effects

Certain treatments used in Unani medicine (such as certain herbal preparations) may be harmful to some people. Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated.

In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances, such as metals. 

While you face such risks when purchasing any dietary supplement, these risks may be of greater magnitude when you're purchasing products that contain a variety of herbs in varying doses.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

It should be noted that Unani medicine is not a licensed health profession in the United States.

A Word From Verywell

Research on Unani medicine is extremely limited and has mostly been done on animals, not humans.

If you're considering the use of Unani medicine in the treatment of any health condition, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before beginning treatment.

Keep in mind that self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Several other antioxidant-rich substances may help protect brain health as you age. For example, studies show that increasing your intake of resveratrol and green tea may aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nazmi AS, Ahmad SJ, Rashikh A, Akhtar M, Pillai KK, Najmi AK. Protective effects of 'Khamira Abresham Hakim Arshad Wala', a unani formulation against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2011;21(1):41-7. doi:10.3109/15376516.2010.529188

  2. Singh S, Nair V, Gupta YK. Antiarthritic activity of majoon suranjan (a polyherbal Unani formulation) in rat. Indian J Med Res. 2011;134:384-8.

  3. Siddiqui TA, Shadab Z, Nishat I, Ayasha N, Zehra Z, Alavi SH. Anticataract activity of Kohl-Chikni Dawa--a compound ophthalmic formulation of Unani medicine in alloxan-diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;86(1):109-12. doi:10.1016/s0378-8741(03)00046-1

  4. Khan MB, Hoda MN, Yousuf S, et al. Prevention of cognitive impairments and neurodegeneration by Khamira Abresham Hakim Arshad Wala. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;108(1):68-73. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.04.012

  5. Dwyer JT, Coates PM, Smith MJ. Dietary Supplements: Regulatory Challenges and Research Resources. Nutrients. 2018;10(1). doi:10.3390/nu10010041

Additional Reading