Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 1993
  • Online publication date: March 2008

I.3 - Islamic and Indian Medicine

from Part I - Medicine and Disease: An Overview
This chapter discusses the origins and the major components of the Islamic and Indian medicine traditions and compares and contrasts their institutional responses to the challenges of modern times. Islamic medicine is based largely on the Greek medical knowledge of later antiquity and is more properly called Greco-Islamic or Galenic-Islamic medicine, reflecting the influence of Galen. According to the Greco-Islamic medical theories, diseases were caused by imbalances of the four humors of the body: hot, cold, moist, and dry. The physicians (hakims) of the Islamic Middle Ages, Manfred Ullmann observes, were not interested in discovering new knowledge, but rather in developing and commenting on the natural truths learned from the ancients. Islamic also practices Prophetic medicine and Astrological medicine. Indian medicine, such as Ayurvedic medicine, Yunani medicine, homeopathic medicine and folk medicine, is a medical tradition distinct from either Greek or Islamic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine has three humors, wind, bile, and phlegm, which govern health and regulate bodily functions.
Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge World History of Human Disease
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053518
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Basham, A. L. 1976. The practice of medicine in ancient and medieval India. In Asian medical systems, ed. Leslie, Charles. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Brass, Paul R. 1972. The politics of Ayurvedic education: A case study of revivalism and modernization in India. In Education and politics in lndia: Studies in organization, society, and policy, ed. Rudolph, Susanne H. and Rudolph, Lloyd I.. Cambridge.
Brockelmann, C. 1937–49. Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur. Leiden.
Croizier, Ralph. 1968. Traditional medicine in modern China: Science, nationalism and the tensions of cultural change. New York.
Dols, Michael. 1984. Medieval Islamic medicine: Ibn Ridwan’s treatise “On the prevention of bodily ills in Egypt.” Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Dunn, Fred. 1976. Traditional Asian medicine and cosmopolitan medicine as adaptive systems. In Asian medical systems, ed. Leslie, Charles. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Elgood, Cyril. 1951. A medical history of Persia and the Eastern Caliphate. Cambridge.
Filliozat, J. 1964. The classical doctrine of Indian medicine. Delhi.
Gallagher, N. 1983. Medicine and power in Tunisia, 1780– 1900. Cambridge.
Goitein, Shlomo. 1967. A Mediterranean society, Vol. 1. Berkeley.
Good, Byron. 1981. The transformation of health care in modern Iranian history. In Modern Iran: The dialectics of continuity and change, ed. Bonine, Michael E. and Keddie, Nikki R.. Albany, N.Y..
Gupta, B. 1976. Indigenous medicine in nineteenth– and twentieth–century Bengal. In Asian medical systems, ed. Leslie, Charles. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Ibn, Abi Usaybia. 1882–4. Tabaqat al–atibba’, ed. Cairo, A. Muller.
Issa, Ahmed. 1928. Histoire des Bimaristans (hôpitaux à l’époque islamique). Cairo.
Jolly, Julius. 1951. Indian medicine. Poona.
Leslie, Charles. 1976. The ambiguities of medical revivalism in modern India. In Asian medical systems, ed. Leslie, Charles. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Metcalf, Barbara Daly. 1982. Islamic revival in British India: Deoband, 1880–1900. Princeton, N.J..
Metcalf, Barbara Daly. 1985. Nationalist Muslims in British India: The case of Hakim Ajmal Khan. Modern Asian Studies 19.
Metcalf, Barbara Daly. 1986. Hakim Ajmal Khan: Rais of Delhi and Muslim “leader.” In Delhi through the years: Essays in urban history, culture and society, ed. Frykenberg, R. E.. Delhi.
Meyerhof, M. 1984. Studies in medieval Arabic medicine. London.
O’Flaherty, Wendy Doniger. 1980. Karma and rebirth in classical Indian traditions. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Omar, Saleh Beshara. 1977. Ibn al-Haytham’s optics: A study of the origins of experimental science. Minneapolis.
Rahman, Fazlur. 1987. Health and medicine in the Islamic tradition. New York.
Sabra, A. I. 1972. al-Haytham, Ibn. Dictionary of scientific biography. New York.
Sabra, A. I. 1987. The appropriation and subsequent naturalization of Greek science in medieval Islam, a preliminary statement. History of Science 25.
Savage-Smith, E. 1987. Drug therapy of eye diseases in seventeenth-century Islamic medicine: The influence of the “New Chemistry” of the Paracelsians. Pharmacy in History 29.
Savage-Smith, E. 1988. Gleanings from an Arabist’s workshop: Current trends in the study of medieval Islamic science and medicine. ISIS 79.
Ullmann, Manfred. 1978. Islamic medicine1. Edinburgh.
Zimmer, Henry R. 1948. Hindu medicine. Baltimore.
Zysk, Kenneth G. 1985. Religious healing in the Veda. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 75:7.