The science of medicine made a giant leap across the world with the advent of Islam in Iran and thorough the contributions of prominent Iranian polymaths such as Muhammad ibn Zacharia Razi in the 10th century as well as Hakim Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Esmaeil Jorjani in the 11th century.
Similar to the Graeco-Arabic medicine, the Iranian traditional medicine is based on the theory that the human body is filled with four basic substances, called humors, including Phlegm (Balgham), Blood (Dam), Yellow bile (Ṣafra) and Black bile (Sauda). The four substances determine the physical and mental characteristics of each person, also known as mizaj or temperaments.
When the four humors are in balance, it will bring about physical and mental health. However, any excess or deficiency of any of the four bodily fluids in a person will result in diseases and disabilities, Presstv reported.
Zacharia Razi developed the four temperaments into an elaborate medical system and Hakim Ibn Sina meticulously explained the detailed knowledge of four humors in his medical encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine.
According to the Iranian medcine, mizaj signfies the excess or lack of four main qualities in a person’s body, including warmness, coldness, dryness and wetness, and those specific qualities construct all physical or mental characteristics of a person.
Mizaj and genetics are relatively similar as the temperament will be determined once an embryo starts to develop. Morover, the dominant mizaj can be inheried from the the parents.
As far as the dominance of mezaj is concerned, tempers are classified into nine categories of warm, cold, wet, dry, warm and dry, warm and wet, cold and dry, cold and wet, and moderate.
The key strength of the Iranian traditional medicine is that it prioritizes health maintenance in individual lifestyle over treating diseases. Recognition of an individual’s temperament is considered the first source of information for maintenance of one’s optimum health and diagnosis of their illnesses.
The life style rules in Iranian traditional medicine are mainly focused on six core principles, including food and drinks, climatic conditions and environment, sleeping and waking, physical activities, psychiatric conditions and ridding body from waste materials (sweat, urine or feces).
The main essence of the Iranian traditional medicine in maintaining health and treating illnesses is that each person should choose a life style which matches their distinguished mizaj.
Mizaj is not just restricted to human beings and every object, situation, and state in the universe has a distinguished mizaj which has an impact on the health conditions of human beings.
Flavors, for instance, have temperaments which cause warmness, coldness, dryness and wetness in the body. While, sour flavor, as in pickled vegetables and sour fruits, is cold and dry, dairy products such as yoghurt and citrus fruits which are not too much sour or sweet are considered cold and wet. Salty, bitter and spicy flavors are warm and dry and sweet flavor is warm and wet.
Accordingly, people with cold and dry Mizaj should normally avoid using sour foods and drinks to avoid conditions such as dry skin, depression, and weakness. Based on the same pattern, people with warm and wet Mizaj should cut back on sweet food stuff, people with warm and dry Mizaj should avoid using much spices and salt and people with cold and wet Mizaj must use less dairy products, water and citrus fruits.
The same pattern also offers a massive repertoire of prescriptions when it comes to different climates, psychiatric conditions, physical exercise and age ranges.
The routine life style prescriptions are basically aimed at maintaining the individual’s health. Even in case of a mal-temperament, known as Sou-e Mezaj in Persian, the traditional medicine seeks to treat the disorder through adaptations in the patient’s lifestyle.
When normal life style modifications are not capable of treating an illness, the Iranian traditional medicine offers a massive list of herbal medicine, including over 2,500 types of medicinal plants, or applies a variety of non-chemical methods such as bloodletting, massage, thermotherapy, hydrotherapy, etc. for different types of diseases.
Since the majority of methods and drugs applied in the Iranian traditional medicine have very insignificant side effects and health risks and, at the same time, they result in more sustainable and long-lasting health benefits, the medical tradition is becoming increasingly popular in Iran and many other parts of the world.
Over the past decade, numerous traditional medicine clinics have started working across Iran and the method has been introduced and taught as an independent scientific field at the masters’ and PhD levels in several academic centers.
Meanwhile, many companies have started mass production of herbal medicine for the domestic and international markets.
Since the Iranian medicine had been overshadowed by the Western medicine over the past two centuries, a vast part of its repertoire is still ignored and not being applied.
Given the growing popularity of the Iranian traditional medicine among the public, many scholars express optimism that continued research in the field will lead to further revival of the scientific method and bring about more breakthroughs in the medical science in general.