The word “Diabetes” comes from the Greek word “Diabanmo” which means to run through or passing through. It is characterized by excessive urination (Polyurea) excessive thirst (Polydypsea), increased appetite (polyphasia), presence of sugar in urine, gradual loss of body weight, etc. In Unani medicine “Ziabetus” is the term which is used generally for diabetes, and “Ziabetus Shakari” for diabetes mellitus. It is mentioned in most of the Unani literature like Al Qaanon, Al Hawi, Kamilus Sana’ah, etc. Arabian scholars have also mentioned it by terms like Atsha, Istisqa-e-Amnas, Mo’attisha, Dulaab, Dawwarah, Barkariyyah, Zalaqul kuliya, Ziyasqoos and Qaramees. Egyptians have described clinical features similar to Diabetes almost 3000 years back.
As per Unani philosophy, it is a disease in which the consumed water is passed out through the kidney immediately after its intake by an individual without any metabolic change. Due to hot temperament of kidneys, the water is absorbed from the blood circulation and sent to the urinary bladder.
As per Unani philosophy of causation of disease, it is based on mizaji (temperamental) and saakhti (structural) deviation. Any imbalance between mizaj (temperament) and saakht (structure) results in disease.
Classification of Diabetes (Ziabetus)
According to the presence or absence of sugar in the urine, it is divided into two types:
Ziabetus Sada or Ziabetus ghair shakari (Diabetes insipidus), characterized by excessive thirst and urination, without the presence of sugar in the urine.
Ziabetus Shakari (Diabetes mellitus), characterized by excessive thirst and urination, but with sugar in the urine.
According to the intensity (Khiffat wa Shiddat) of the disease, it is also divided into two types:
Ziabetus Haar: Abrupt onset with severity of symptoms. Such as excessive thirst (polydipsia) and increased urination (polyuria), increased appetite (Polyphasia), with the signs and symptom of other su-e- mizaj haar, such as heat in flanks and dryness of the body, due to su-e- mizaj haar sada (excess of heat) of kidneys.
Ziabetus Baarid: Gradual onset and less severity of symptoms comparatively. Such as thirst and frequency of urine are comparatively less.
Unani physicians like Ali ibn-e- Abbas Majoosi, Ibn-e- Sina (980-1037AD) and Najeeb- ud- Deen Samarqandi (Died 1222AD) described some underline etiopathogenesis of the disease in their classical texts. It was supposed that the disease is related to kidney. The important etiological factors mentioned in Unani System of Medicine are the following:
Zof’e Gurda (Weakness of kidney)
Ḍu̒ f al-Kulya (Renal insufficiency)
Sue Mizaj Haar Gurda (Hot derangement in the temperament of kidney)
Sue Mizaj Baarid Gurda (Cold derangement in temperament of kidney)
Ittesae Gurda wa Majra-e- Baul (Dilatation of kidney and urinary tract)
Baroodat-e- Badan, Jigar wa Gurda (Cold derangement in temperament of body, kidney and liver)
Uncontrolled diabetes may lead to kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, gangrene and even coma. Modifications in diet and lifestyle can reduce the possibility and complications of the disease. Unani medicines are strongly advisable in lifestyle diseases, especially diabetes.
Fundamentals of treatment
According to eminent Unani physicians, the drugs that correct the Mizaj of kidney and liver or restore the retentive power (quwwat-e-masika) of kidneys are used to manage “Ziabetus haar.” So the line of treatment need to be adopted is as under:
Correction of Su’-e- mizaj
Removal of predisposing cause
Prevention is better than cure and is applicable in case of diabetes as well. Regular exercise and proper sleeping habit help in prevention of lifestyle diseases specially Diabetes.
As per Unani concept, Diabetes mostly occur due to stress, anxiety, strain and tension (Infaalat-e-Nafsania), over-eating, Excessive use of Alcohol or Sedentary Lifestyle. Persons with diabetes need to avoid sedentary lifestyle, stress/strain, anxiety and cold/humid environment etc.
Unani physicians advise balanced dietary plan, including fiber rich product and raw vegetables, to control and prevent the complications. Carbohydrate rich diet such as rice, potato, oily food, fruits and starch food items, should be side-lined in the diet of a diabetic patient. Reduce the total quantity of food as per diet chart. Avoid junk and sugary food. Restrict liquor and red meat. Avoid refined cereals. Hot spices should be added in diabetic patient food (ghiza-e- mareez) e.g. Filfil Daraz (Piper longum), Zeera (Cuminum cyminum), Lehsun (Allium sativum) because they are Mulattif (Demulcent).
3. Ilaj bil Dawa (Pharmacotherapy)
Single and compound formulations are mentioned below (which are free from side effects and are holistic in nature).
Kernel of Jamun seeds and its leaves
Karela (bitter gourd)
Tender shoots of Neem
Qurs Kushta Baiza-e- murgh
Along with medicine the patients have to follow strict regimen as per the concept of Unani system. The patients are therefore, strongly advised to avoid self-medication.
They are advised to visit the nearest authorized Unani treatment centre for advice and treatment.