Respiratory Infectious Disease and the COVID-19 Pandemic : A Review of Medieval Unani Medical Literature


  • Prince Sultan University, Deanship of Educational Services, Department of the General Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Ministry of AYUSH (CCRUM), Government of India, Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Mumbai, India


Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a life-threatening disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), first identified as an infectious agent in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 gradually spread worldwide and was declared a pandemic by the WHO on March 11, 2020. As of mid-November 2020, the virus has infected over 55.6 million people worldwide and caused more than 1.3 million deaths. In the absence of clinically proven prophylactic and therapeutic strategies, the pandemic has continued its global spread. In this scenario, the role of traditional systems in tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by improving the immune system and providing supportive care to patients is being investigated. The Unani system of medicine is one of the traditional medicine systems officially recognized by the World Health Organization to cater to people’s healthcare needs. Herein, we reviewed the medieval Unani medical literature regarding respiratory pandemic diseases, symptoms, clinical features, and suggested treatments, especially literature related to the acute catarrh and influenza pandemics. From our review, beside isolation and quarantine, the following measures appear essential: 1. habitat sanitization and purification using herbal sprays or fumigation, 2. enhancing the immune system, strengthening the heart, and preventing infections with antidote Tiryaq Wabai, and 3. use of herbal drugs and formulations useful for strengthening the body and gastrointestinal tract, and for the prevention of respiratory distress, pneumonia, pleurisy and other symptoms. The data reviewed here show that the Unani system of medicine can prevent and manage epidemic/pandemic diseases, including conditions similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, there is scope for the Unani system of medicine to provide supportive and preventive measures for COVID-19 until an effective cure is developed.


Acute Catarrh, COVID-19 Pandemic, Influenza Pandemic, Respiratory Infection, Treatment, Tiryaq Wabai, Unani Medicine

Subject Discipline

Alternative medicine;Unani Medicine

Full Text:


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