Sartaan-e- Sadi (Breast Cancer)


Cancer (Sartaan) is a significant global health problem with an estimated worldwide incidence of 10 million new cases per year. It is a leading cause of death worldwide. Statistics indicate that cancer strikes more than one third of the population and it is the cause of more than 20% of all deaths The WHO has estimated that about 15 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed each year by 2020 worldwide. 

Breast cancer (BC) (Sartaan-e- Sadi) is one of the most common cancers throughout the world. It is a major public health challenge, associated with high morbidity. The incidence rate of breast cancer (Sartaan-e- sadi) is growing during the last 40 years.

Breast cancer (Sartaan-e- sadi) treatment has its strength and weakness. Current optional anticancer therapies are associated with adverse effects, drug resistance and recurrence. There is a great need to combat this disease with better and more effective medications as compared to existing therapies.

In Unani system of medicine breast cancer is described under the heading of ‘Sartaan-e- Sadi’ or ‘Sartaan-e- Pistan. Going through Unani classical texts, here new cancer therapies with low toxicity and minimal side effects are mentioned.

Unani physicians have described about breast cancer (Sartaan-e- sadi) concept, signs and symptoms (A’lamat), prevention and its management in detail.

Unani perspective of breast cancer (Sartaan-e- Sadi)

The eminent Unani physicians like; Zakariya Razi, Jalinoos, Al Zahrawi and Ibn-e- Sina have explained in their precious books about cancer (Sartaan) and its treatments. According to Unani medicine, cancer (Sartaan) is associated with black bile (Sauda). Black bile (Saudawi madda) develops into two ways as;

  1. Normal black bile (Tabay’i mada  sauda) which develop as hard swelling (Warm-e- sulb)
  2. If the normal black bile (Tabay’i mada sauda) burns, it causes cancer (Sartaan).

According to Rabban Tabri, cancer (Sartaan) develops in hollow organs (A’az- e- mutkhalkhala). He further mentions that it may be due to excess use of hot anti‐ inflammatory drugs (Garam muhallilat) in case of black bile inflammation (Waram-e- saudawi) diseases in uterus (rehm).

Al Zahrawi was the first Unani scholar who performed the classical removal of breast cancer (Sartaan-e- sadi).

According to Zakariya Razi, when black bile (Sauda) becomes oxidated (Enteraqi), it acts as a precursor of formation of cancer (Sartaan). 

Alamath (Sign and Symptoms)

  • Presence of hard mass on breast (Sadi).
  • Colour of skin becomes reddish, blackish and hard.
  • Burning and pricking sensation in breast.  


Prevention (Tahaffuz)

  • The body should be de‐toxified from saudawi mada.
  • Prevention from hot and dryness (garam va husk) producing food (ghiza).
  • Avoidance of alcohol, stress and environmental pollution.

Ilaj (Treatment)

Treatment of breast cancer (Sartaan-e- sadi) is based on four modalities which is mentioned in classical Unani literature, Viz;

  1. Ilaj bil Ghiza (Dietotherapy)
  2. Ilaj bil Dawa (Pharmacotherapy)
  3. Ilaj bil Tadbeer (Regimenal therapy)
  4. Ilaj bil Yad (Surgery)

Ilaj bil Ghiza (Dietotherapy)

  • Ibn-e- Sina explained the effect of diet on cancer progression. He explained that, prevention of cancer progression by, improving the diet and reinforcing the involved organ.
  • Dietary inclusion of beans and cruciferous vegetables are important e.g: mongi dhal (green gram), baadam (Almond), Akhrot (wall nut).
  • Diet should be easily digestible (Latif ghiza) and prevention of accumulation of sauda production and cooling are important. eg: Khurfa, Kadu, Kheera, Ma-ul- Jubn, Ma-ul- sha’eer and Nabeez.   

Ilaj bil Tadbeer (Regimenal therapy)

  • Regular exercise and proper rest are important factors.  
  • According to Ibn Sina’s concept; “be preceded by purifying (clearing) the body of the bad material (black bile) by mushilath (purgation), hijamah (cupping) and maintain the body by qualitatively and quantitatively to strengthening the defense (resistance) of the involved organ”.
  • To remove saudawi mada; performing fasad (venesection) on vareede akhal (cubital vein) is good. But it is restricted to metastasis cases (Zakaria, 2002)

Ilaj bil Dawa (Pharmacotherapy)

  • For munsij (mature) mada; give ushara-e- shahatra for 3 days then give mushilat (purgatives) as joshanda-e- afthimoon and sena for 7 days.
  • Further as a munsij following dawa can be used; Bisfaij, Ustukhuddus , Badrajboya    Asalusoos Unnab, Shahtara, Sapistan.
  • As mushil-e- sauda following drug (dawa) can be given; Aftimoon, Elva, Halela Siyah, Ghariqoon, with shikanjabeen and Ma-ul- asl (Honey water). Then use; Mohallil-e- waram zimad (anti inflammatory paste).

Prescription –I

Barg-e- Kishneez‐ 2 tola, Barg-e- Mako sabz‐ 2 tola, Barg-e- Khatmi‐ 2 tola, Barg-e- Soya‐2 tola, Posht-e- Kashkash‐ 2 tola, mix with Roghan-e- gul‐ 2 tola and apply with lukewarm on affected breast.

Prescription –II

  • Apply Barg-e- suddab paste on affected breast.
  • Following medicine (dawa) can be given Orally;  

Baaqla, Saleekha, Mazu, Charbi mixed with Sharab keep 20 days then heat to soften the hard swellings.

Surgery (Ilaj bil Yad)

Arab physicians including Al Razi, Al Zahrawi and Ibn-e- Sina explained that a cure is most likely if the cancer is identified at its earliest stage. To prevent the further growth, they suggested the surgical removal if the tumour is small and accessible. After excision, the wound can be kept as such for free flow of blood it immediately cauterized.

Unani Single Drugs for Sartaan (Cancer)

There are lot of medicinal herbs mentioned in Unani classical books which posses anti‐cancerous activity. They are scientifically proven/ validated by Unani physicians.

  • Kalonji / Shooneez       (Nigella sativa Linn.)
  • Haldi/ Zard Chob        (Curcuma longa Linn.)
  • Elva/ Gheekawaar       (Aloe barbadensis Mill. / Aloe vera
  • Asgandh                      (Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dun.)
  • Lehsan / Seer               (Allium sativum)
  • Asl-us- Soos                (Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.)
  • Adrak                          (Zingiber officinale Roscoe.)
  • Zafran/ Gumr              (Crocus sativus Linn.)
  • Aamla                          (Phyllanthus emblica Linn. Syn.: Emblica officinalis Gaertn.)
  • Angoor                        (Vitis vinifera Linn.)
  • Khulanjan                    (Alpinia galanga(Linn.)Willd.)
  • Qust                            (Saussurea hypoleuca Spreng.
  • Methi/ Hulba              (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.
  • Baladur/ Bhilavan       (Semecarpus anacardium Linn.f.
  • Kachnar/ Kachnal       (Bauhinia variegata Linn.)

Note: Unani drugs should be taken under the advice of the qualified Unani physician. The patients are required to follow strict Unani regimen for optimum results.


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Feb 10, 2021
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Mahtab Alam Khan
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Feb 10, 2021


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