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Published in the 1-15 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Unani and herbal treatment on the decline in Lucknow 

The Milli Gazette Online

Lucknow: Lucknow, the cradle of culture, civilisation, learning, decency, delicacy and refinement has undergone a vast change now. There was a time when hakeems (practitioners of Unani system of treatment and medicines) of Lucknow were famous throughout the country for their treatment. Patients and diseases declared incurable by allopath and other doctors were successfully cured by these hakeems who were in abundance. Each one was considered better than the other in some respects. It was difficult to say who is the biggest and best hakeem. Treatment of many incurable diseases made medical science and doctors at their wits end.

But all that has become history now. Today in this city of 30-35 lakh people there may be hardly 15-20 hakeems and only a few shops selling Unani medicines and herbal singles and compounds. As regards old hakeems they have now become a rarity. The only one among the old generation is probably Hakeem Mushir of Jhawai Tola locality which was formerly famous as the locality of hakeems many whom had earned the tittle of ‘Shifa-ul-Mulk’ because of their wonderful treatment of diseases. They were so expert that simply by feeling the pulse and seeing the ‘Qaaroora’ (first urine of the day) they fully understood the ailment of the patient without any thing being told by him.
Hakeem Abdul Aziz of Jhawai Tola was the person who played the key role in promoting Hikmat or Tibb in Lucknow. More than a hundred years ago he founded a Tibbia College to promote Unani system but ironically the same college became the destroyer of this system in the long run because the products of this college after talking BUMS degrees, instead of prescribing Unani medicines take pride in prescribing allopathic medicines and calling themselves doctors. For admission to Tibbia College knowledge of Urdu and Persian is essential because all the old books on Tibb are in Persian and Urdu but today’s admission seekers do not know even Urdu, not to talk of Persian. Obviously, when they don’t know Urdu and Persian, how can they learn Hikmat or Tibb? 

Hakeems of olden days considered their profession for the sake of service. They of course charged their fees and sold medicines also but they prescribed cheaper medicines also to their patients. It is said that one of them, Hakeem Abdul Qawi Daryabadi did not charge his professional fee throughout his life and as far as possible, used to prescribed cheap medicines also. With the declining number of hakeems, number of shops selling Unani medicines also declined and now there are only a few shops which sell Unani medicines.
Senior hakeems and those who run Unani medicine shops say that government is primarily responsible for the decline of Unani system because it allowed the products of Tibbia Colleges to carry on allopathic practice with the result that even after getting BUMS (Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery) degrees, they virtually become allopath doctors . They believe that even after so much advancement in medical sciences, successful and permanent treatment of diseases like cold, piles, measles, liver, kidney and stomach ailments etc is possible only and only in Unanipathy.

Lovers and promoters of Unani system feel sad and disappointed over its unpopularity and helplessly think how progressive Lucknow was in this system and how decadent it has now become. 

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