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Unani system of Medicine and Contribution of Scholars

Some notable scholars of the science of unani-tibbi include:
Al Razi
  • Al Tabbari (838–870)
  • Al Razi (Rhazes) (841–926)
  • Al Zahrawi (930–1013)
  • Avicenna (980–1037)
  • Ibn Al Haitham (960–1040)
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna), (980–1037)
  • Ibn Al Nafees (1213–1288)
  • Ibn Khaldun (1332–1395)
Medical innovations introduced by unani-tibbi physicians included:
Al Zahrawi
  • Avicenna was the first to describe meningitis, so accurately and in such detail, that it has scarcely required additions after 1,000 years.
  • Avicenna was the first to describe intubation (surgical procedure to facilitate breathing)—Western physicians began to use this method at the end of the eighteenth century.
  • The use of plaster of Paris for fractures by the Arabs was standard practice—it was "rediscovered" in the West in 1852.
  • Surgery was used by the Arabs to correct cataracts.
  • Ibn Al Nafees discovered pulmonary blood circulation.
  • A strict system of licensing for medical practitioners was introduced in Baghdad in 931, which included taking the Hippocratic oath, and specific periods of training for doctors.
  • There was a system of inspection of drugs and pharmaceuticals—the equivalent of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)—in Baghdad 1,000 years ago.
  • The European system of medicine was based on the Arabic system, and even as recently as the early nineteenth century, students at the Sorbonne had to read the canon of Avicenna as a condition to graduating.
  • Unani-tibbi hospitals were, from the beginning, free to all without discrimination on the basis of religion, sex, ethnicity, or social status.
  • Their hospitals allocated different wards for each classification of disease.
  • Hospitals had unlimited water supplies and bathing facilities.
  • Before the advent of the printing press, there were extensive handwritten libraries in Baghdad, (80,000 volumes), Cordova, (600,000 volumes), Cairo, (two million volumes), and Tripoli, (three million volumes).
  • All Unani-tibbi hospitals kept patient records.
  • A hospital was established for lepers.
  • In 830, nurses were brought from Sudan to work in the Qayrawan hospital in Tunisia.
  • A system of fountain-cooled air was devised for the comfort of patients suffering from fever.
  • Avicenna described the contamination of the body by "foreign bodies" prior to infection, and Ibn Khatima also described how "minute bodies" enter the body and cause disease—well in advance of Pasteur's discovery of microbes
  • Avicenna described tuberculosis as being a communicable disease.
  • Avicenna devised the concept of anesthetics. The Arabs developed a "soporific sponge," (impregnated with aromatics and narcotics and held under the patient's nose), which preceded modern anesthesia.
  • The Arab surgeon, Al Zahrawi was the first to describe hemophilia.
  • Al Zahrawi was also the first surgeon in history to use cotton, which is an Arabic word, as surgical dressings for the control of hemorrhage.
  • Avicenna accurately described surgical treatment of cancer, saying that the excision must be radical and remove all diseased tissue, including amputation and the removal of veins running in the direction of the tumor. He also recommended cautery of the area if needed. This observation is relevant even today.
  • Avicenna, Al Razi, and others formed a medical association for the purpose of holding conferences so that the latest developments and advancements in the field of medicine could be debated and passed on to other.


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