Unani Medical Theory in Principle, Part 2 of 3—The Vis Medicatrix Naturae

Yaser Abdelhamid, ND, LAc

Doctors of Unani medicine can visualize the state of a patient’s subtle body (jism al-latīf) properly only through the eye of the heart (ayn al-qalb), wherein the flowing, dynamic streams of humors lie. The doctor (hakīm) enlivens the patient’s self-healing power or vital force (the vis medicatrix naturae), at the level of the subtle body to move him or her toward health and wellness. A particular organizing principle of the hidden physiology of the subtle body (al-quwwa al-mudabbirah) effects a harmonizing reaction in the face of disease or illness. One can perceive the vis medicatrix naturae as the thread that holds together the fabric of the human body, mind, and soul in close collaboration with the spirit. Unani medicine posits the general medical theory of the healing power of nature as a guiding principle upon which it builds more complex, specific understandings of human health and disease.

Various medical systems around the world offer their own understandings of the primary and essential functional components that cause health to reign or disease to take root, progress, and finally show itself in constellations of signs and symptoms of illness. Chinese medicine promotes physiologic concepts such as qi, blood, yin, and yang. In conventional medicine, key concepts relating to body tissues and fluid dynamics dominate the under- standing of physiology.

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