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Unaani (in Arabic, Hindustani, Persian, Pashtu, Urdu etc) means Greek. It derives from the Greek word Ionia, the Greek name of the Asia Minor coastline.
It is also used to refer to Graeco-Arabic or Unani medicine (see below) based on the teachings of Hippocrates, based on the four humours Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam), Yellow bile (Safra) and Black bile (Sauda — it seems to mean hard substance and black material.
Though the threads which comprise Unani healing can be traced all the way back to Claudius Galenus of Pergamum, who lived in the second century of the Christian Era, the basic knowledge of Unani medicine as a healing system was collected by Hakim Ibn Sina (known as Avicenna). The time of origin is dated at circa 980 AD in Persia.
As an alternative medicine, unani has found favour in Asia, especially India. In India, Unani practitioners can practice as qualified doctors, as the Indian government approves their practice. Unani medicine is very close to Ayurveda. Both are based on theory of the presence of the elements (in Unani, they are considered to be fire, water, earth and air) in the human body. (The elements, attributed to the philosopher Empedocles, determined the way of thinking in medieval Europe.) According to followers of Unani medicine, these elements are present in different fluids and their balance leads to health and their imbalance leads to illness. Most medicines and remedies (often common herbs and foods) used in Unani are also used in Ayurveda. While Unani was influenced by Islam, Ayurveda is associated with Vedic culture.
The base used in Unani medicine is often honey. Honey is considered by some to have healing properties and hence is used in food and medicines practiced in the Islamic world. Real pearls and metal are also used in the making of Unani medicine based on the kind of ailment it is aimed to heal.
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