Hakeemi Treatment

Hakeemi Treatment method of treatment based on the Unani system of medicine where herbal preparations are principally utilized. The practitioners of this method are called Hakeems. The word Hakeem has been derived from the Arabic word hekmat, meaning wisdom and skill, indicating that the people who practice Hakeemi are wise and skilled persons. The principles of Greek philosopher Hippocrates (460-377 BC) form the basis of Hakeemi treatment, which presupposes the presence of four humours - Dam (blood), Balgham (phlegm), Safra (yellow bile), and Sauda (black bile) in the body, which influence the temperament of a person. A healthy person possesses a balanced humoural constitution maintained by a power of self-preservation or adjustment, called Quwwat-e-Mudabbira (medicatrix naturae), in the body. If this power weakens, for any reason, imbalance in the body's humoural composition occurs, and this causes disease. Medicines are used in this method of treatment to help the body to regain this power to an optimum level, thereby restoring humoural balance and helping to cure the disease.

In this method of treatment, emphasis is given on diagnosing a disease through Nabz (pulse), felt by the fingers. Other methods of diagnosis include organoleptic examination of Baul (urine), Baraz (stool), etc. Treatments include Ilaj bit-Tadbeer (regimental therapy), Ilaj bil-Ghiza (dietotherapy), Ilaj bid-Dawa (pharmacotherapy), and Jarahat (surgery). Regimental therapy includes treatments like cupping, diaphoresis, diuresis, Turkish bath, massage, cauterization (burning), purging, exercise, leeching, etc. Dietotherapy includes treatment of a patient by prescribing specific diets or by regulating the type, quantity and quality of food. Since it is believed that humours are produced from digested foods, the Hakeemi treatment system attaches great importance to diet. Pharmacotherapy is the treatment done by the use of naturally occurring drugs of plant, animal and mineral origin. Although in pharmacotherapy use of a single drug is generally preferred, compound formulations are frequently employed in the treatment of various complex and chronic disorders. A number of minor surgical treatments or operations are also in vogue in Hakeemi treatment.

After Hippocrates a number of Greek, Arab and Persian pharmacist-physicians including Galen (131-210 AD), Al-Razi (850-925 AD), Ibn Sina (980-1037), and many others enriched the Hakeemi method of treatment in its earlier days. The Arabs introduced this method of treatment to this sub-continent in the 10th century. Since then this method has flourished in this part of the world, including Bangladesh, through the patronage of the Delhi Sultans, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, and the Mughal emperors. But it suffered a setback during British rule with the aggressive introduction of Western methods of medicine. However, since the method enjoyed faith among the masses, it continued to be practiced here. Hakeem Ajmal Khan (1868-1927), Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed (1883-1922), Hakeem Abdul Hameed (1908- ), Hakeem Mohammed Said (1920-1998), and Hakeem Habibur Rahman are some of the outstanding personalities through whose efforts Hakeemi treatment has flourished and survived in the subcontinent.

Hakeemi treatment is an officially recognized popular method of health management in Bangladesh. About 4,000 qualified and professionally trained Hakeems now offer this method of treatment in the country. [Abdul Ghani]

See also folk medicine; traditional medicine.