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unani and ayurveda

Unani vs Ayurveda: How Are They Different?

Unani and Ayurveda are two fascinating medical systems that have stood the test of time. These are two different approaches to holistic healing with a rich history. These practices have gained attention worldwide. In this article, we will compare Unani and Ayurveda, understanding their unique principles, differences, and similarities.

What is Unani?


Unani, derived from the Arabic word “Unānī” meaning “Greek,” is a traditional medical system that has grown from the teachings of ancient Greek scholars like Hippocrates and Galen. When we compare Unani and Ayurveda, the first difference arises from their origin.

This holistic approach was then developed and refined by Arabian and Persian physicians during the Middle age, which resulted in the Greco-Islamic Unani system that we know today.

Principles of Unani:

  • Four Humors: Unani revolves around the concept of four humors – blood (dam), phlegm (balgham), yellow bile (ṣafrāʾ), and black bile (saudāʾ). Health is believed to stem from the balance of these humors, while imbalances lead to diseases.
  • Elements and Temperaments: Unani correlates the four humors with four basic elements – air, water, fire, and earth – and four temperaments: hot, cold, wet, and dry. Illnesses are attributed to disturbances in these temperaments.
  • Holistic Approach: Unani views health as a harmonious balance between physical, mental, and spiritual elements. It aims to restore equilibrium through individualized treatments.
  • Diagnostic Techniques: Unani practitioners use pulse diagnosis (Nabz), visual examination (Shahoor), and clinical observation to assess the patient’s condition and determine the underlying causes of illness.
  • Treatments: Treatment in Unani involves various modalities, including diet therapy (Ghiza), herbal medicine (Ilaj bil Tadbeer), cupping therapy (Hijama), and even surgical procedures if necessary.

Also Read: Unleash the Power of Ayurveda for Weight Loss

What is Ayurveda?


Ayurveda, derived from the Sanskrit words “Ayur” (life) and “Veda” (knowledge), is an ancient Indian healing system that has been known for over 5000 years. Ayurveda has been mentioned in the Vedic texts and is known to be one of the ancient holistic sciences for health and well-being.

Principles of Ayurveda:

  • Three Doshas: Ayurveda revolves around three fundamental doshas – Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (water and earth). The balance of these doshas is pivotal for optimal health.
  • Prakriti and Vikriti: Ayurveda focuses on an individual’s Prakriti (natural constitution) and Vikriti (current state of doshic balance). Treatment involves restoring the person’s unique balance.
  • Holistic Balance: Ayurveda believes that well-being is achieved when there’s harmony between body, mind, and spirit. Imbalances in the body lead to various diseases and hence reaching equilibrium is the right way to healing.
  • Pulse Diagnosis and More: Like Unani, Ayurveda employs pulse diagnosis (Nadi Pariksha) to assess doshic imbalances. It also takes into concern other factors such as checking the tongue, physical appearance, and medical history of the patient.
  • Therapeutic Measures: Ayurvedic treatments encompass dietary modifications (Ahara), herbal medicine (Aushadhi), detoxification processes (Panchakarma), yoga, meditation, and rejuvenation therapies.

Also Read: How Ayurveda Eases Joint and Muscle Pain?

Unani vs Ayurveda: Major Differences

1. Historical and Geographical Origins:

The first difference between Unani and Ayurveda is their origin. Unani originated from ancient Greece and later evolved through Greco-Islamic influences. It became popular in parts of the world influenced by Islamic culture, including the Middle East and parts of Asia. On the other hand, Ayurveda originated in ancient India and has always been influenced by Indian culture, traditions, and philosophy.

2. Foundational Principles

Unani revolves around the balance of four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile – and their qualities. Ayurveda’s foundation lies in the balance of three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – representing different combinations of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether).

3. Diagnostic Methods

Unani practitioners primarily rely on pulse diagnosis and clinical observation to determine a patient’s humoral imbalance. Ayurveda also includes diagnosing the pulse. However, it also includes other factors like diagnosing the tongue, nails, skin, and eyes to check for dosha imbalances and ensure overall health.

Also Read: 4 Ayurveda Habits to Help You Sleep Better

4. Herbal Formulations and Medicines

Unani medicine often uses single herbs and compound formulations derived from botanical sources. Ayurveda, on the other hand, utilizes complex herbal combinations, mineral preparations (bhasmas), and specific herbal formulas tailored to an individual’s dosha imbalance.

5. Temperament-Based vs. Dosha-Based Treatments

Another difference between Ayurveda and Unani is their treatment methods. Unani treatment focuses on restoring balance to the patient’s temperament by employing therapies that correspond to hot, cold, wet, or dry qualities. Ayurvedic treatment centers around harmonizing doshas, recommending lifestyle adjustments, diet changes, herbal remedies, and detoxification therapies.

Similarities between Unani and Ayurveda

1. Holistic Approach

Both Unani and Ayurveda work on treating the mind, body, and spirit as these are interconnected according to both approaches. They recognize that health is a result of balance within and among these elements.

Also Read: 3 Ayurvedic Products to Take Care of Your Diabetes Naturally: Ambic Ayurveda

2. Natural Remedies

Both approaches depend on natural resources and methods for healing. These rely on herbs, minerals, and a balanced diet to restore balance and improve health.

3. Individualized Care

Both Unani and Ayurveda stress the importance of personalized treatments. They understand that each individual has a unique body and each of them responds differently to similar treatments.

4. Preventive Measures

Both methods promote preventive measures to maintain health. Lifestyle changes, choice of food, and mental practices are very important in avoiding diseases and keeping optimal health.

5. Mind-Body Integration

Both Unani and Ayurveda acknowledge the significance of mental well-being in overall health. These systems prioritize meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques for a healthy body.

Also Read: Advantages of Ayurveda and How It Can Help You in Living a Healthy Lifestyle!

6. Time-Tested Wisdom

Both approaches have been in existence for a long time, and have passed centuries of practice and refinement. Their long existence proves the strong and everlasting value of their principles and practices.


Unani and Ayurveda are two different healing techniques that emerged with wisdom and care. They have differing origins, principles, and methodologies. However, their similar goal remains constant: holistic well-being. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Unani and Ayurveda the same?

No, Unani and Ayurveda are not the same. They are different traditional medical systems with different unique origins, treatment methods, and principles. While both of these involve natural remedies, their fundamental philosophies and techniques are different.

2. What is the difference between Ayurveda and Unani?

These systems are different in their origins, treatment methods, and principles. Ayurveda originates from ancient India and Unani originates from Greek and Islamic traditions Ayurveda uses complex herbal formulas while Unani uses single herbs and temperamental treatments.

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