Principles, Concepts and Philosophies

The basic theory of Unani system is based on the wellknown four humour theory of Hyppocrates. Viz,. blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The proper functioning of human body depends on seven factors known as Umoor-e Tabiya

Arkaan/Anasir (Elements)
Mizaaj (Teperament)
Akhlat (Humors)
Aaza (Organs)
Arwah (Spirits, Vital Forces)
Quwa (Faculties)
Afaal (Functions)

Arkan (Elements)

Elements are the primary components of human body and there are four basic elements, which in fact represent the four states of matter i.e.

Element Temperament
Air Hot and Moist
Earth Cold and Dry
Fire Hot and Dry
Water Cold and Moist

Mizaaj (Temperament)

Elements are the primary components of human body and there are four basic elements, which in fact represent the four states of matter i.e.

Akhlat (Humors)

Humors are those moist and fluid parts of the body which are produced after transformation and metabolism of the aliments; they serve the function of nutrition, growth and repair; and produce energy, for the preservation of individual and his species. They are the primary body fluid corresponding to four elements and their qualities.

The temperament of persons are expressed as sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic according to the preponderance of humors - The humoral theory presupposes the presence of four humors that are :

Dam (Blood)
Balgham (Phlegm)
Safra (Yellow Bile)
Hot and Dry
Sauda (Black Bile)

The assigned temperaments are :

Blood is hot and moist.
Phlegm is cold and moist.
Yellow Bile is hot and moist.
Black Bile is cold and dry.

Signs of temperament and acquired temperaments


Discomfort from heat.

Undue discomfort in fever.

Rapid exhaustion of energy.

Excessive thirst.

Burning and irritation in epigastrium.

Bitter taste.

Weak, quick and rapid pulse.

Intolerance of hot dishes.

Comfort from cold things.

Grater distress in hot weather.


Weak digestion.

Less need for drinking.

Laxity of joints.

Tendency towards catarrhal conditions and phlegmatic fevers.

Aversion for cold dishes and greater discomfort in winters.


Signs similar to cold temperament.

Laxity of tissues.

Excess of salivation and nasal secretion.

Tendency towards dyspepsia.

Intolerance of moist foods.

Excess of sleep.

Puffiness of eyelids.


Dry skin.



Intolerance of dry foods.

Liking for moist dishes.

Discomfort in ready absorption by body of hot water and light oils.

Food passes through four stages of digestion:

Gastric digestion

Hepatic digestion

Vessels digestion

Tissue digestion

The humors are responsible for maintaining moisture of different organs of the body and also provide nutrition to the body.

Aaza (Organs)

These are the various organs of the human body. The health or disease of each individual organ affects the state of health of the whole body.

Arwah (Spirits, Vital Forces)

Ruh (Spirit) is a gaseous substance, obtained from the inspired air, it helps in all the metabolic activities of the body. It burns the akhlat latifah to produce all kinds of quwa (powers) and hararat ghariziyah, it is the source of vitality for all the organs of the body. These are considered to be the life force and are, therefore, important in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. These are the carriers of different powers, which make the whole body system and its parts functional.

Natural power (Quwa Tabiyah)

Natural power is the power of metabolism and reproduction. Liver is the seat of this power and the process is carried on in every tissue of the body. Metabolism is concerned with the processes of nutrition and growth of human body. Nutrition comes from the food and is carried to all parts of the body, while growth power is responsible for the construction and growth of human organism.

Psychic Power (Quwa Nafsaaniyah)

Psychic power refers to nervous and psychic power. It is located inside the brain and is responsible for perceptive and motive power. Perceptive power conveys impressions or sensation and motive power brings about movements as a response to sensation.

Vital power (Quwa Haywaaniyah)

Vital power is responsible for maintaining life and enables all the organs to accept the effect of psychic power. This power is located in the heart. It keeps life running in the tissues.

Functions (Afaal)

This component refers to the movements and function of all the organs of the body. In case of a healthy body the various organs are not in proper shape but are also performing their respective functions. This makes it necessary to have full knowledge of the functions of the human body in full detail.