The use of simple herbs has many benefits. An herb, besides its active principles, has also other constituents like resins, gum, sugar, vitamins, inorganic salts and many vegetable substances. This built-in antidote mechanism provided by nature itself protects the healthy tissue from the ill effects of the herb and even the prolonged use of an herb within a medicinal dosage does not inflict any harm.
Thus the total effect of an herbal medicine yields beneficial results as a consequence of synergistic effects of all the constituents present, some known, many unknown. It has now been established in many cases that the medicinal plant has a more complete action than the isolated principle. The use of powerful synthetic drugs aimed at acting on one particular part of the body like a gun shot and remaining indifferent towards the vital integrity of the body components or unintentionally injuring the healthy cells is against the ethics of Unani system of medicine.
In the Unani system of medicine, herbs, like other substances, besides being endowed with their own properties are also termed as hot, cold, dry and moist. This means that after being acted upon by gastric juices and undergoing a series of biochemical changes, they produce perceptible degrees of heat, cold, dryness and moisture in the body. Hence the dominant quality of an herb coupled with its specific pharmacological action counteracts the opposite abnormal quality in the body or any of its organs, or subsides, evacuates, alters, strengthens or tones up as the case may be.
The correlation between chemical structure and pharmacological action, and how this can be interpreted as a function of temperament in the human body can be put on scientific footing.
Dr. Salim Uzzaman of India has observed that the herbs claimed to be heating and drying are found to be alkaloidal in character. On the other hand plant products which are described as cooling mostly contain a carboxyl group, e.g. citrus and sour fruits. Similarly, the presence of an active constituent with organically combined sulphur contributes towards the heating quality of the drug and the presence of terpenic body makes the drug cooling. However there are exceptions, and for several medicinal herbs this hypothesis may not apply.
The temperamental quality and the action of the herbal drugs (which has a history of clinical observations of hundreds of years) are logically interrelated. An herb which is cooling is mostly astringent and a heating drug is stimulant, vasodilator, deobstruent and tonic and so on and so forth.
Unani Herbs in Relation to Chemical Drugs
On one hand the complex behavior of the human body and the multifarious stimuli in the environment give rise to various emotional disturbances, and on the other the different pathogenic states stimulate or inhibit the cardiac function and psychic order. In the present-day society an individual is under heavy stress and suffers from a chain of complexes and anxieties which ultimately lead to maniac depressions, nervous breakdown, functional disorders of heart and even suicidal tendencies.
The multinational pharmaceutical firms have, however, to take care of that, developed scores of tranquilizers and psychomotor stimulants which leave behind many injurious and disturbing after effects.
The conception of elatives and exhilarants and cardiac as well as nervine tonics is unique in Unani system of medicine. No other therapeutic system in the world is in a position to provide any such therapy which offers relief from all sorts of depressive states or from psychoneurotic conditions without giving rise to any untoward symptoms. Unani herbal formulas either simple or in compound form produce a sense of well-being, confidence, pleasant elation, mental correlation and sound behavior without any intoxication or addiction.