How Unani System Manages Covid19 and Other Respiratory Epidemics?

by Dr Touseef Khalil Kamal

Herbs also help increase the production of interferons (proteins) and antibodies to generate an immune response against viruses and increase the rate of phagocytosis to destroy microorganisms, thus, increasing immunity from containing viral infections.

At the entrance of the Shalimar Garden in Srinagar outskirts, the health staff on August 26, 2021, is testing a visitor for Covid19. Visitors planning entry into the Mughal garden is subjected to proof that the person is inoculated against the Covid19 or has to undergo a Covid19 test. This is aimed at preventing mass morbidity in anticipation of the third-wave fears. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Since December 2019, the world faces the respiratory pandemic, Covid19, an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The term epidemic was coined by Hippocrates who is considered the father of Unani medicine which is based on four humours.

In the Unani System of Medicine (USM) equivalent term for the epidemic is Wabā.  In classical Unani literature symptoms of Nazla-i-Wabā’iyya and Humma-i-Wabā’iyya closely resemble with the symptoms of Covid19. Major manifestations of this outbreak are cough, fever, headache, nausea, and breathlessness. This pandemic takes place due to a change in the quality of the surrounding air.

To date, there is no defined protocol for the management of Covid -19. In these times of crisis. The present control strategies of the disease include interrupting the mode of transmission, reduction of secondary infections by early diagnosis and isolation of cases, providing optimal care to infected patients, and developing effective diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic strategies, including vaccines.

The holistic approach of AYUSH systems of medicine focuses on prevention through lifestyle modification, dietary management, prophylactic interventions for improving immunity and simple remedies based on the presentation of the symptoms.

We reviewed the concept of Wabā, its prevention, and the management strategies available in USM. There is a detailed description of wabah (epidemic), Alahidagee (isolation) and quarantine. It was Hippocrates who coined the term quarantine and advised restriction of movement for forty days to the suspects. Asbab-e-Sittah Zarooriyah (six essentials of life) one of the basic principles of Unani can play an important in the overall development of immunity of a person and the prevention of disease which will be discussed in a full-length paper. Fumigation of surroundings with herbs, use of modified and specific diets and Unani drugs to enhance quwat-e-mudabar-e-badan (innate immunity) can play an important role to fight this covid19 pandemic.

Health experts are time and again insisting on boosting our immunity. Although it has not been proven whether strong immunity helps in treating the novel Coronavirus or not, it may help you to have overall better health. While some people are blessed with good immunity, others are resorting to various natural ways to strengthen their stamina, immune system and overall health. Many of us are practising regular yoga, breathing exercises and more and even trying natural concoctions like herbal teas, drinks and kadhas.

Speaking about kadha, it will not be an exaggeration if we term it to be one of the oldest and most treasured medicinal secrets of India. It is basically a mix of various traditional herbs and spices that help us to keep strong from within.

These herbs also help increase the production of interferons (proteins) and antibodies to generate an immune response against viruses and increase the rate of phagocytosis to destroy microorganisms, thus, increasing immunity from containing viral infections.

Dr Shahid Badar, BUMS from Aligarh is an Internal Medicine Specialist and has over 15 years of experience in the medical field. One of the best Unani physicians, he advised me to prescribe the Unani kadha (Joshanda-e-Badar) to the patients for immune boosting.

It can be prepared with some herbs like 6 gm-Afsanteen, 6 gm-Giloy and 6 gm-Chiraita.

When I contracted Covid19, I started Consuming Unani Kadha twice a day and took proper rest. It helped me survive and within 15 days, I was Covid19 negative. I did not take any anti-biotic.

Outbreaks of respiratory viral infections like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Covid19 have been a regular occurrence in the past many years. A significant proportion of the morbidity and mortality in influenza is attributed to the co-morbidities and complications induced by the disease, involving vital organs and physiological functions.

Dr Touseef Khalil Kamal

In this context, traditional medicines offer effective protective, palliative, and therapeutic benefits, as observed in several studies on various types of influenza, including Covid19. The Unani herbal decoction comprising Unnāb (Ziziphus jujuba Mill fruit), Sapistān (Cordia dichotoma G. Forst fruit), and Behīdāna (Cydonia oblonga Mill seed) was originally prescribed by Hakim Ajmal Khan (1868-1927 AD) for various respiratory ailments as a bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, and for clearing the respiratory tract.

During Covid19, the decoction was prescribed by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH), Government of India, for mild patients in home isolation, and also as a self-care drink for healthy people. Preliminary studies are of the view that the decoction could reduce Covid19 incidence and prevent severe disease in the population where it was administered.

(The author is an Unani Physician and a Medical Officer (AYUSH) working under National Health Mission at PHC Suid in Block Dachhan District Kishtwar. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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