Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2022, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (2): 91-95.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.01.002

• Commentary •     Next Articles

Why the “sugars” in traditional Unani formulations are a pivotal component: A viewpoint perspective

Mohammad Fazila,Sadia Nikhatb   

  1. a. Hakim Ajmal Khan Institute for Literary and Historical Research in Unani Medicine, Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine, Jamia Millia Islamia Campus, New Delhi 110025, India
    b. Department of Ilaj bit Tadbeer, School of Unani Medical Education and Research, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi 110062, India
  • Received:2021-08-01 Accepted:2021-12-03 Online:2022-03-25 Published:2022-01-18

Traditional medicine systems around the globe, like Unani, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, include a number of sugar-based formulations, which contain a large amount of saccharide-containing sweetener, such as honey, sucrose or jaggery. With pervasive lifestyle disorders throughout the world, there have been discussions to consider alternative sweetening agents. Here, from the perspective of Unani medicine, we discuss how the saccharide-based sweeteners may be an essential component of these traditional preparations, like electuaries, which may be deprived of their bioactivities without these saccharides. With contemporary researches, it is known that apart from their own therapeutic effects, saccharides also form deep eutectic solvents which help in enhancing the bioactivity of other ingredients present in crude drugs. In addition, they provide energy for fermentation which is essential for biotransformation of compounds. Interestingly, the sugars also increase the shelf-life of these compound drugs and act as natural preservatives. On the basis of this review, we strongly believe that saccharide-based sweeteners are an essential component of traditional medicines and not merely an excipient.

Key words: Saccharides, Sugar-based formulations, Eutectic solvents, Traditional medicine

[1] Miriam Bazzicalupo, Laura Cornara, Bruno Burlando, Alberta Cascini, Marcella Denaro, Antonella Smeriglio, Domenico Trombetta. Carpobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br. extract as a skin preserving agent: from traditional medicine to scientific validation. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2021, 19(6): 526-536.
[2] Seung-hoon Choi. A digital application for implementing the ICD-11 traditional medicine chapter. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(6): 455-458.
[3] Toktam Sadat Firoozeei, Majid Barekatain, Mehrdad Karimi, Arman Zargaran, Shahin Akhondzadeh, Hossein Rezaeizadeh. Lavender and dodder combined herbal syrup versus citalopram in major depressive disorder with anxious distress: A double-blind randomized trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(5): 409-415.
[4] Maryam Naeimia, Narjes Gorjib, Zahra Memarianib, Reihaneh Moeinib, Mohammad Kamalinejadc, Fatemeh Kolangid. Gastroprotective herbs for headache management in Persian medicine: A comprehensive review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(1): 1-13.
[5] Naghmeh Yazdi, Alireza Salehi, Mina Vojoud, Mohammad Hossein Sharifi, Ayda Hoseinkhani. Use of complementary and alternative medicine in pregnant women: a cross-sectional survey in the south of Iran. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(6): 392-395.
[6] Zienab Mahmoudpour, Javad Shokri, Mohammad Kamalinejad, Neda Meftah, Soraya Khafri, Seyyed Ali Mozaffarpur, Hoda Shirafkan. The efficacy of a Persian herbal formulation on functional bloating: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(5): 344-350.
[7] Mohammad Hossein Ayati, Ata Pourabbasi, Nazli Namazi, Arman Zargaran, Zahra Kheiry, Amir Hooman Kazemi, Bagher Larijani. The necessity for integrating traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine into medical education curricula in Iran. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(4): 296-301.
[8] Sahar Dehdari, Homa Hajimehdipoor, Somayeh Esmaeili, Rasool Choopani, Seyed Alireza Mortazavi. Traditional and modern aspects of hemorrhoid treatment in Iran: A review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(2): 90-98.
[9] Andrian Liem, Kuncoro Dewi Rahmawati. The meaning of complementary, alternative and traditional medicine among the Indonesian psychology community: A pilot study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(4): 288-294.
[10] Anternite Shanthi Jesuthasan, Deepthi Inoka Uluwaduge. Ethnobotanics used in folk medicine of Tamil culture in Sri Lanka: A scientific review. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2017, 15(1): 19-26.
[11] Chang-quan Ling​, Xiao-qiang Yue, Chen Ling​. Three advantages of using traditional Chinese medicine to prevent and treat tumor. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2014, 12(4): 331-335.
[12] Zhi-yi Zhou, Ling Xu, He-gen Li, Jian-hui Tian, Li-jing Jiao, Sheng-fu You, Zhi-fen Han, Yi Jiang, Hui-ru Guo​, Hui Liu​. Chemotherapy in conjunction with traditional Chinese medicine for survival of elderly patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: Protocol for a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2014, 12(3): 175-181.
[13] Peng-fei Gao, Kenji Watanabe. Introduction of the World Health Organization project of the International Classification of Traditional Medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2011, 9(11): 1161-1164.
[14] Ling-ying Liu, Xiao-dong Chen, Bo-yu Wu, Qiong Jiang. Influence of Aloe polysaccharide on proliferation and hyaluronic acid and hydroxyproline secretion of human fibroblasts in vitro. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(3): 256-262.
[15] Fei-fei Chen, Dong-lian Cai. Research advances in anti-aging effect of active polysaccharides. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2009, 7(7): 674-677.
Full text



[1] Wei-xiong Liang. Problems-solving strategies in clinical treatment guideline for traditional Chinese medicine and integrative medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 1-4
[2] Zhao-guo Li. Discussion on English translation of commonly used sentences in traditional Chinese medicine: part one. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 107-110
[3] Jin-zhou Tian, Jing Shi, Xin-qing Zhang, Qi Bi, Xin Ma, Zhi-liang Wang, Xiao-bin Li, Shu-li Shen, Lin Li, Zhen-yun Wu, Li-yan Fang, Xiao-dong Zhao, Ying-chun Miao, Peng-wen Wang, Ying Ren, Jun-xiang Yin, Yong-yan Wang, Beijing United Study Group on MCI of the Capital Foundation of Medical Developments. An explanation on "guiding principles of clinical research on mild cognitive impairment (protocol)". Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 15-21
[4] Jin-rong Fu. Establishment of multivariate diagnosis and treatment system of modern gynecology of traditional Chinese medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 22-24
[5] Hao Li, Ming-jiang Yao, Wen-ming Zhao, Jie Guan, Lin-lin Cai, Ling Cui. A randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of Huannao Yicong capsule in senile patients with mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 25-31
[6] Jun Hu, Jian-ping Liu. Non-invasive physical treatments for chronic/recurrent headache. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 31
[7] Yi-ting He, Qing-lin Zha, Jian-ping Yu, Yong Tan, Cheng Lu, Ai-ping Lv. Principal factor analysis of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and their correlations with efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 32-36
[8] Jun Cai, Hua Wang, Sheng Zhou, Bin Wu, Hua-rong Song, Zheng-rong Xuan. Effect of Sijunzi Decoction and enteral nutrition on T-cell subsets and nutritional status in patients with gastric cancer after operation: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 37-40
[9] Dong Yang, Yong-ping Du, Qing Shen, Wei Chen, Yan Yu, Guang-lei Chen. Expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin in renal tubulointerstitium in patients with kidney collateral stasis. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 41-44
[10] Xue-mei Liu, Qi-fu Huang, Yun-ling Zhang, Jin-li Lou, Hong-sheng Liu, Hong Zheng. Effects of Tribulus terrestris L. saponion on apoptosis of cortical neurons induced by hypoxia-reoxygenation in rats. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 45-50