Temperament of Drugs (Mizaj-e- Advia) in Unani Medicine


The concept of temperament (Mizaj) is one of the distinguishing features of Unani System of Medicine. Naturally occurring single (Mufrad) drugs are composed of organic and inorganic components having diverse qualities and functions. The temperaments (Mizaj) of active components dominate because of this; the properties of one drug (Dawa) differ from another. Temperament (Mizaj) of a particular drug is due to its specific phytoconstituent.

All substances of plant, animal and mineral origin have their own individual temperaments (Mizaj), which even the close and related species/ forms do not share. It indicates the dominance of a humour (Khilt) in a person or a patient.

Based on closeness of the temperament (Mizaj) of substances with the temperament (Mizaj) of human body, they may serve as food, drug or poison, with decreasing order of similarity. Foods are closely related to temperament (Mizaj) of human body and poisons are just opposite and far away, while drugs may be considered intermediate between the foods and poisons.

Temperament of drugs (Mizaj-e- Advia) determines the pharmacological properties of crude drugs derived from plant, animal and mineral sources as well as to assess therapeutic and toxicological properties of Unani drugs. It is one of the main basic fundamental principles of Unani pharmacology (Ilm-ul- Advia).

The concept of temperament of drugs (Mizaj-e- Advia) in Unani medicine is unique in its own way of describing the properties of drug substance. It is a broad concept, which describes the pharmacological properties of crude drugs derived from plant, animal and mineral sources.

In other words temperament (Mizaj) is associated quality of heat, cold, moisture and dryness. There exists a concept that all the three natural sources of drugs (Mawaleed-e- Salaasa) possess four qualities in different proportions, i.e. heat (Hararat), cold (Burudat), dryness (Yabusat) and moisture (Rutubat); and a new temperament (Mizaj) is formed by their interaction.

According to the philosophy of Unani system of medicine, the physiology of an organ, pathogenesis of a disease and mechanism of action of a drug depends upon temperament (Mizaj). When four qualities (Kaifiat-e- Arba) i.e. blood (Dam), phlegm (Balgham), yellow bile (Safra) and black bile (Sauda) of elements (Arkaan) acts and reacts by their powers, then previous qualities become diminished and a new moderate quality is developed which is known as temperament (Mizaj).

Unani physicians must aware of normal and imbalanced temperament (Mizaj) of the diseased organ before treating a disease of a person, so that he can prescribe the drug according to that temperament (Mizaj).

According to Avicenna (Ibn-e- Sina), temperament (Mizaj) is a quality developed by opposite action and reaction of components, which is broken down into smallest particles in order to facilitate the proper mixing of all these particles. When these components interact by virtue of their respective powers, a condition is developed which is found in equal proportion in all the components of the compound; this called as Temperament (Mizaj).

Unani Concept of Temperament (Mizaj)

The concept of temperament (Mizaj) is fundamental for the understanding of the drug action and disease processes. It uniquely belongs to Unani System of Medicine. Temperament (Mizaj) not only helps in understanding the status of health and disease of a person but also guides in studying and researching of drugs of both single (Mufrad) and compound (Murakkab) nature.

Temperament (Mizaj) is concerned about the humans and drugs (Advia). We can say, it has two broad categories, one is concerned about the temperament (Mizaj) of humans and the other type is concerned about the temperament (Mizaj) of drugs (Advia).

Unani scholars believed that, during the creation of a human being or animal a number of interactions between the basic building elements, which take part in the early development of the creature, and this gives a unique shape and property to them. This is called temperament (Mizaj). It is the resultant of interaction between the qualities of the constituents of a compound irrespective of the reactions taking place in an animate (simply alive) or inanimate (not living, not moving around).

In other words temperament (Mizaj) is a broad concept, which arises after complex chemical reactions between the constituents. Evaluation of the concept of temperament (Mizaj) of Unani drug is essential for understanding the pharmacological basis of drugs (Advia).

The drugs of plant origin include; roots, barks, branches, leaves, fruits, seeds, stem, gums, flowers, resin etc. Their knowledge was gained through keen observation, experiment, testing and serendipity. We know this fact very well that like all other objects in the universe, the drugs also are composed of elements on the principle of interaction, mixing and interaction of their quality (Kaifiyat).

Some drugs are hot, others are hotter, some are cold while others are colder, some drugs are wet while others are wet, and in the same way some may be dry while others are drier in temperament (Mizaj). In the same manner their primary and secondary temperament (Mizaj) and other dependent functions are different among the drugs.

It is important to understand that different drugs affect the body in a variety of ways. One can say, different types of drugs affect your body in different ways as per their temperament (Mizaj), and the effects associated with drugs can vary from person to person.

Apart from that, a drug affects an individual is dependent on a variety of factors including body size, general health, the amount and strength of the drug used. The initial phase of drug development in Unani medicine is carried out through analogy based on certain organoleptic as well as physical properties of the drugs (Advia).

The knowledge of temperament (Mizaj) tells us about possible actions of drugs in the body, dosage regime and about the duration up to which a drug can be continuously used by the patient. For instance, the drugs of 3rd and 4th degree can’t be used in high doses or for longer duration, while as 1st degree and moderate drugs can be used safely for longer duration without any adverse effects on the human body.

Avicenna (Ibn-e- Sina) and other Unani scholars described temperament (Mizaj) in Unani classical texts related to the Unani pharmacology (Ilm-ul- Advia) amply seems a physical concept stemming out of the very intrinsic theory of the nature of bodies with supra physical connotations.

Physical nature of the concept of temperament of drugs (Mizaj-e- Advia) warrants its critical evaluation, which is possible only when the physical correlate of the temperament (Mizaj) is made comprehensive and empirical.

The concept of temperament (Mizaj) of drugs is used as a tool to assess the pharmacological, therapeutic and toxicological properties of Unani drugs (Unani Advia).

Temperament of Drugs (Mizaj-e- Advia)

Drugs (Advia) used in Unani system of medicine are of natural origin i.e. from plant, animal or mineral sources. All are composed of four basic elements (Arkaan) and these elements (Arkaan) possess various properties like cold, heat, moisture and dryness.

Different types of temperament (Mizaj) and pharmacological properties of different drugs (Advia) are the result of interaction of elements (Arkaan), which gets manifested on human body after administration.

The temperament (Mizaj) of drugs is composed of two parts; one part is results of interaction of heat and cold while other part is interaction of moisture and dryness. Sometimes it also happens that the interaction of two opposite qualities (Kaifiyaat) i.e. heat with cold as well as moisture with dryness, takes place in such a manner that none of them dominates but both of two are equally effective, as this type of interaction lead to the formation of Moderate temperament (Mo’tadil Mizaj).

As per Unani philosophy, drugs of moderate temperament (Mo’tadil Mizaj) are considered safe as well as least toxic. The potency and toxicity of other categories of Unani drugs (Unani Advia) are described in comparison with the moderate drug. On the basis of interaction of different elements (Arkaan) as well as the nature of their effect on human body, there are nine categories of Unani drugs (Unani Advia) have been described.

  • Mo’tadil Mizaj (Moderate Temperament): Drugs of moderate temperament (Mo’tadil Mizaj) does not produce any perceptible effect after administration in therapeutic doses; even if consumed repeatedly.
  • Haar wa Mo’tadil Mizaj (Hot & Moderate Temperament): Drugs of this temperament induces hotness in the body after administration.
  • Baarid wa Mo’tadil Mizaj (Cold & Moderate Temperament): Drugs of Barid & Motadil temperament makes the body to feel cold after administration.
  • Yaabis wa Mo’tadil Mizaj (Dry & Moderate Temperament): Drugs of this temperament produces dryness in the body after administration.
  • Ratab wa Mo’tadil Mizaj (Wet & Moderate Temperament): Drugs of this temperament produced moisture in the body after administration.

 Some Unani drugs also consists compound/ mixed temperament in nature, these are;

  • Haar & Ratab Mizaj (Hot and Wet Temperament)
  • Haar & Yaabis Mizaj (Hot and Dry Temperament)
  • Baarid & Ratab Mizaj (Cold and Wet Temperament)
  • Baarid & Yaabis Mizaj (Hot and Dry Temperament)

Grade/ Degree of Drug Temperament (Mizaj-e- Advia)

  • First degree (10) Drugs: If a healthy person takes drugs of 10 in its proper therapeutic dose, it does not produce any effect in his body. If the same drug is taken a few times (2- 3 times) then a slightly increased effect is produced.
  • Second degree (20) Drugs: If a healthy person takes drugs of 20 in its proper therapeutic dose, then these drugs show some effect even at first dose; and this effect is similar to drugs of 10 when given few times and in higher dose.
  • Third degree (30) Drugs: Similarly if a healthy person takes drugs of 30 in its proper therapeutic dose, it produces unhealthy feeling and troubling situation in the body after administration.
  • Fourth degree (40) Drugs: Drugs of 40 degree are also known as poisonous drugs (Sammi Advia). These drugs are dose dependent; so, any change in the dose may lead to change in the temperament (Mizaj). 

Organoleptic Features of Drug Determined the Temperament (Mizaj-e- Advia)

Pre assessment of temperament (Mizaj) by analogy is carried out based on organoleptic characters of drugs and by its physiochemical properties. The method for knowing the mizaj (temperament) of drugs are of two types; experimental and analogy. Analogy help in identification of drugs by organoleptic characters and physiochemical properties such as taste (Maza), smell (Boo), colour (Rang), istihaalah (Burning property) and Injimaad (Freezing property) etc.

Maza (Taste): On the basis of different combinations of qualities (Kaifiyaat) of drugs, many types of tastes (Maza) are formed. Nine types of tastes have been described in Unani classical books.

  1. Greasy (Dasmi)
  2. Sweet (Hulu)
  3. Salty (Maleh)
  4. Pungent (Hareef)
  5. Sour (Hamiz)
  6. Astringent (Kabiz)
  7. Bitter (Murr)
  8. Acrid (Iffs)
  9. Tasteless (Tuffah)
  • Substances that are taken orally may be cold, hot or moderate. Hotness (Haraarat) of a drug is indicated by taste (maza).
  • Hotness of a drug in decreasing order according to taste: Pungent (Hareef) >Bitter (Murr) >Salty (Maleh) >Sweet (Hulu) >Greasy (Dasmi).
  • Similarly Coldness (Buroodat) of a drug in increasing order according to taste: Astringent (Kabiz) <Acrid (Iffs). 

Boo (Smell): Smell (Boo) is weak evidence as compared to the Taste (Maza). As smell (Boo) is a weak parameter so, smell of a drug is not sufficient to judge its qualities (Kaifiyaat).

  • According to rule substance having smell are hot in nature while substance with light smell is less hot and this heat dispersed in the whole matter of substance.
  • However, substances with smell which is soothing in nature, don’t possess heat, e.g. Nilofar (Nymphaea alba Linn.), camphor (Cinnamomum camphora (Linn.) J. Presl) etc.
  • However, bad smelling substances possess lot of heat (Haraarat) and infection (Ufoonat).

Rang (Colour): As mentioned in Unani classical literatures that assessment of a drug’s features/ qualities by its colour is the weakest of all parameters. However it helps in differentiating between different forms of a single genus only.

Istihalah (Burning Property) ): It is assumed that easily influenced drug by the heat will also easily be acted upon by the innate heat produced by human body, as hotter drug will be more easily influenced by the fire. However, this happens only due to lose structure of the substance not due to its hot nature.

Injimaad (Freezing Property): Two drugs are similar in term of lightness and heaviness, fluidity and viscosity; if the new drug freezes more quickly and easily in comparison to the previous known drug, it means the new drug is colder in nature, while if the new drug freezes slowly as compared to the known one, it means the new drug is hotter in nature.


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Mar 01, 2021
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Mahtab Alam Khan
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Mar 01, 2021


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