Unani- The Answer for Lifestyle Diseases

Healthcare field faces a lot of challenges today. Even in the developed countries, they are less related to infectious diseases, but aligned to ‘Lifestyle’ diseases. But these diseases can be prevented and treated from the Unani-Unani perspective.

The term “lifestyle disease” has become a common currency in the healthcare field. They are diseases which arise because of the way people choose to live their lives. This results in people living in the “fast lane”, over-indulging and not living healthy lives.

In Unani, however there is no differentiation between lifestyle and other diseases. All diseases are the result of poor management of the six governing (or essential) factors, beyond the ability of physis or Tabiat to maintain and restore homeostasis. In this context, lifestyle diseases are diseases that can be prevented by conscious changes to the person’s diet, behavior and environment.

The Unani view of lifestyle diseases

Lifestyle diseases can be differentiated to two: chronic and acute clinical conditions. The chronic disorders, which can also be termed lifestyle disorders, are the conditions which arise from poor management of the governing factors over an extended period. Essentially, the lifestyle diseases and chronic disorders are associated with sub-optimum behavior which ultimately results in an accumulation of toxins. Therefore, the Unani approach to the prevention and treatment of these lifestyle and chronic diseases is aimed at avoiding the accumulation of toxins in the first place.

The Unani approach in managing lifestyle diseases

For the prevention of lifestyle diseases, Unani aims at limiting the accumulation of toxins by appropriate adjustment of the body’s six governing factors. For the treatment of lifestyle diseases, the Unani approach involves reversing the accumulation of toxins, plus concoction and elimination of excess or abnormal humors. In addition, restoring the functions and structures of the affected systems is encouraged wherever applicable

Preventing / delaying the onset of lifestyle diseases

This is a major benefit that Unani offers. The concept of temperament is a useful indicator for identifying the risk factors associated with individuals, as it indicates the predisposition that the individual has to chronic disorders which are invariably the result of poor lifestyle management. Whilst predisposition of the individual to specific illnesses cannot be altered, the onset of the disorder can be delayed if the individualized governing factors are modified. The Unani answer to the prevention of lifestyle disease is, therefore, to manage the six governing factors to minimize the accumulation of toxins, especially when they arise from a poor, inadequate diet.

Treatment of lifestyle diseases

Unani recognizes the importance of identifying a person’s risk factors and interpreting the illness on the basis of the temperamental/humoral theory. This allows a targeted approach to deal with the humoral or structural imbalance associated with chronic lifestyle disorders. The Unani treatment approach to chronic lifestyle illness consists of three main components. The first component is activities leading to a reduction in the increase of the abnormal/excess humour associated with the illness. The second component is encouragement of the concoction and elimination of the abnormal humour. The third component is the strengthening the organ system affected by the disorder by application of an appropriate lifestyle management programme.

An additional aspect that needs to be evaluated is the role of regimental therapy like cupping in the management and treatment of lifestyle diseases. In conclusion, the incidence of lifestyle diseases in both developed and emerging countries is rising inexorably, and their management poses major problems for most healthcare authorities. The holistic approach of Unani medicine in dealing with lifestyle diseases is clinically proven and cost effective, and it deals with both the prevention and treatment of chronic lifestyle disorders

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