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Personal Review: The Traditional Healers Handbook: A ClassicGuide to the Medicine of Avicenna by Hakim G. M. Chishti N.D.
An indispensible work on Unani medicineFulbright Research Scholar and naturopathic physician Hakim Chishtistudied traditional healing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and, inaddition to this present work is also the author of "The Book of SufiHealing" (Healing Arts Press, 1991).While conducting research in Kabul, Afghanistan, the author found himselfafflicted with a severe form of dysentery and - without access to Westernmedicine - availed himself of the care of a traditional Unani practitioner, Dr.Hajji Muhammad Sherif, whose traditional treatments were successful andto whom Dr. Chishti eventually became an apprentice. Whilst in Kabul, theauthor obtained a Persian language edition of Avicenna's Mizan-ul-Tibb(Canon of Medicine) and Rabat-ul-Atfal (Pediatrics) and translated bothvolumes into English. These form the basis of the present work.This comprehensive guide to healing synthesizes the principles andpractices of that amalgam of Greek, Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Persianmedicine that today is practiced throughout the South Asian subcontinentunder the name `Unani al-tibb' (i.e., Ionian or Greek medicine). It includeshis translation of the two works cited above of Avicenna (Ibn al Sina, bornca. 980 CE), whose writings have been classics in herbal and dieteticmedicine for more than a thousand years. Unani Medicine as a healingsystem was established and institutionalized by Avicenna (known as the"Prince of Physicians") yet because it is a comprehensive systemencompassing virtually all of the known healing systems of the world of hisday, the threads which comprise Unani can be traced uninterruptedly allthe way back to Hippocrates and his disciples.Based on the philosophy that "food is the best medicine" and that "Allahnever sends a disease to humankind without providing its cure,"Avicenna's Canon of Medicine provides simple and effective diagnostictechniques and therapies for maintaining and restoring health andstrengthening the human organism, in particular its immune system. Thebook includes a detailed botanical guide for the hundred most commonlyused medicinal herbs and recommended treatments for four hundredconditions, including diet and nutrition, lifestyle management, herbaltherapy, and aromatherapy. Medicine and health care were perhaps thehighest scientific achievements of the Muslims during the Middle Ages andthe reason for such an achievement is directly related to Islam itself, boththe Qur'an and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) strongly