Medicinally Active Spices and Condiments in Unani Medicine: A Coherent Review

Shabnam Anjum Ara


Introduction: Spices and condiments are highly effective as medicine, easily available, low in cost and can be
a source from kitchen to clinic, if utilized in a proper scientific way. Unani medicine uses spices and condiments
since ancient times as classical literature is enriched with data defining medicinal benefits of spices. The work,
not explored earlier, has two basic aims, first to scrutinize the potent as well as common spices and condiments
endowed with health benefits mostly used by Unani physicians for the treatment of several disorders and second,
to compile the relevant information in a logical scientific manner. Materials and Methods: A methodical study
of the Unani literature was done from available relevant ancient classical data especially pharmacognosy and
pharmacology textbooks. Critical assessment was carried out from Unani classical books such as Al Qanoon Fit
Tib, Khazain al-Advia, Makhzan al-Advia, Kitab al-Hawi, Al-Jami li Mufradat al- Advia wa’l Aghziya as well
as from The Unani Pharmacopoeia of India. Recent studies pertaining pharmacological activities of various
spices were included and cited from varied research articles and databases such as Science-Direct, Wiley Online
Library, and PubMed. Results and Discussion: Phytochemical screening of spices revealed numerous active
biomolecules such as phenolic compounds, essential oil, and flavonoids known to possess medicinal value such
as carminative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-oxidant, purgative, laxative, antiviral, expectorant, and diuretic
activities. Furthermore, pharmacological analysis utilizing different assays exposed significant information about
its important usage as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, hypolipidemic, antiviral, antihypertensive
and many more activities in illnesses relating neurological, respiratory, gastric and hepatic disorders, etc.
Conclusion: In the present study, we discuss various medicinally active spices used in Unani medicine with
their chemical composition, traditional uses and supporting research studies. The medicinal aspects of spices and
condiments deserve systematic and scientific probe especially identification and evaluation of specific biomarkers
to find out best possible therapeutic outcomes. Therefore, from this review, we conclude that medicinally active
spices and condiments should be valued and utilized for restoring the health and well-being of individuals along
with the treatment of diseases.

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