There are three types of health systems in Pakistan:
The type of health system utilized depends on patients’ health beliefs, social status and education levels.
The use of western medication (i.e., antibiotics) is common even in rural areas.
These medicines are available at pharmaceutical stores without prescriptions and anyone can have access to them.
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine first defined by a German, Samuel Hahnemann, in the 18th century. A central thesis of homeopathy is that an ill person can be treated using a substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness.
Practitioners select treatments according to a patient consultation that explores the physical and psychological state of the patient, both of which are considered important in selecting the remedy.
The homeopathic path is followed by people in Pakistan who believe that allopathic medicine has a considerable number of side effects.
Unani is the traditional health system of the Moslems. Unani (literally “Ionion” or Greek) or hikmat, is a form of therapy based on the humoral theory of Hippocrates.
According to Unani, there are three states of the body:
- Disease, and
- The neutral state between the two when one is not truly healthy but the signs of disease are not fully manifest.
Unani also propounds the six primary factors in relation to health and disease:
- The air of one’s environment,
- Food and beverages,
- Movement and rest,
- Sleep and wakefulness,
- Eating and evacuation, and
These six factors must be properly apportioned in quantity, quality, time, and sequence in order for a person to be healthy. Diseases are caused when the functions associated with the vital, natural, and psychic forces of the body become “obstructed,” or unbalanced, owing to a deviation in the humor away from its characteristic temperament.
The Hakim (Unani practitioner) after identifying the imbalance will then often recommend, among other things, appropriate foods that are specifically chosen to correct the imbalance and restore equilibrium. Unani medicine is usually made of herbal plants and contains no animal products.