Siddha System of Medicine: Siddha medicine is practised in Southern India. The origin of the Tamil language is attributed to the sage Agasthya, and the origin of Siddha medicine is also attributed to him. Before the Aryan occupation of the Sind region and the Gangetic plain, there existed in southern India, on the banks of the river Cauvery and Tamirapani, a civilization that was highly organized.
- This civilization has a system of medicine to deal with problems of sanitation and treatment of diseases. This is the Siddha system of medicine. The therapeutics of Siddha medicines consists mainly of the use of metals and minerals whereas in the earlier Ayurveda.
- There is mention of mercury, sulphur, copper, arsenic and gold used as therapeutic agents.
Principle of Siddha system of medicine
The universe consists of two essential entities: matter and energy. The Siddhas call them Siva (male) and Shakti (female, creation). Matter cannot exist without energy inherent in it and vice versa. The two coexist and are inseparable. They are the primordial elements (bhutas), and are not to be confused with modern chemistry. Their names are munn (solid), neer (fluid), thee (radiance), vayu (gas) and aakasam (ether). These five elements (bhutas) are present in every substance, but different proportions. Earth, water, fire, air and ether are manifestations of five elements.
The human being is made up of these five elements, in different combinations. The physiological function in the body is mediated by three substances (dravyas), which are made up of the five elements. They are vatham, pitham and karpam. In every cell of the body these three doshas coexist and function harmoniously. The tissues are called dhatus. Vatham is formed by aakasam and vayu. Vatham controls the nervous actions such as movement, sensation, etc. Pitham is formed by thee and controls the metabolic activity of the body, digestion, assimilation and warmth, etc. Karpam is formed by munn and neer and controls stability. When their equilibrium is upset, disease sets in.
Tridoshas according to Siddha medicine
The tridoshas are involved in all functions of the body, physical, mental and emotional.
- Characteristic is dryness, lightness, coldness and motility.
- Formed by aakasam and vayu, controls the nervous action that constitute movement, activity, sensation, etc. Vatham predominates in the bone. Vatham predominates in first one-third of life when activities, growth, sharpness of function of sense are greater.
- Heat—mover of the nervous force of the body.
- Formed by thee, controls the metabolic activity of the body, digestion, warmth, lustre, intellect, assimilation, etc. Pitham predominates in the tissue blood.
- Pitham predominates in the second one third of life.
- Smoothness, firmness, viscidity, heaviness.
- Formed by munn and neer, controls the stability of the body such as strength, potency, smooth working of joints. Karpam predominates in other tissues.
- Karpam predominates in the last one-third of life. Diminishing activity of various organs and limbs.
The seven dhatus are as follows:
- Rasa (lymph).
- Kurudhi (blood).
- Tasai (muscle).
- Kozhuppu (adipose tissue).
- Elumbu (bone).
- Majjai (marrow).
- Sukkilam and artavam (male and female hormones).
Method of treatment
The treatments for the imbalance of the Tridoshas are made up of the five elements. The drugs are made up of the five elements. By substituting a drug of the same constituents (guna), the equilibrium is restored. The correction of the imbalance is made by substituting the drug, which is pre-dominately of the opposite nature. An example of vatham imbalance is cold, dry; thus the treatment will be oily and warmth. For inactivity of limbs, massage and activity are prescribed. If pitham dosha is increased, warmth is produced; to decrease pitham, sandalwood is administered, internally or externally because of its cold characteristics.
Five types of vayu are as follows:
- Prana: located in mouth and nostrils (inhaled); aids ingestion.
- Apana: located at anal extremity (expelled); elimination, expulsion.
- Samana: equalizer, aids digestion.
- Vyana: circulation of blood and nutrients.
- Udana: functions in upper respiratory passages.
Mercury: Mercury occupies a very high place in Siddha medicine. It is used as a catalytic agent in many of its medicines. When mercury is used, it is used in combination with sulphur. The addition of sulphur is to control the fluidity of mercury-this converts to mercuric sulphite which is insoluble in mineral acids.
Siddhas used five forms of mercury:
- Mercury metal-rasam.
- Red sulphide of mercury-lingam.
- Mercury chloride-veeram.
- Mercury subchloride (mercury chloride)-pooram.
- Red oxide of mercury-rasa chenduram. Ordinary rasa chenduram (red oxide of mercury) is a poison, but when processed as poorna chandrodayam according to Siddha practice, it becomes ambrosia.
Classifications of Siddha medicine:
- Uppu (Lavanam): Drugs that dissolve in water and decrepitated when put into fire giving off vapours (water soluble inorganic compounds). There are 25 varieties and are called kara-charam, salts and alkalis.
- Pashanam: Drugs that do not dissolve in water but give off vapour when put into fire (water insoluble inorganic compounds).
- Uparasam: Drugs that do not dissolve in water (chemicals similar to Pashanam but differing in their actions) such as mica, magnetic iron, antimony, zinc sulphate, iron pyrites, ferrous sulphate.
- Loham: Metals and minerals alloys (water insoluble, melt in fire, solidify on cooling) such as gold, silver copper, iron, tin and lead.
- Rasam: Drugs that are soluble (sublime when put in fire, and changes into small crystals), such as mercury amalgams and compounds of mercury, arsenic.
- Gandhakam: Sulphur insoluble in water, burns off when put into fire.
- Ratnas and uparatnas: Thirteen varieties are described, such as coral, lapis-lazuli, pearls, diamonds, jade, emerald, ruby, sapphire, opal, vaikrantham, rajavantham, spatikam harin mani.
The common preparations of Siddha medicines are:
- Bhasma (Calcined metals and minerals).
- Churna (powders).
- Kashaya (decoctions).
- Lehya (confections).
- Ghrita (ghee preparations) and taila (oil preparations).
- Chunna (metallic preparations which become alkaline).
- Mezhugu (waxy preparations).
- Kattu (preparation that are impervious to water and flames.
Sulphur: Calcined sulphur or red oxide of sulphur can be obtained by solidifying it first by the Siddha method of purification. In small doses, it conserves the body, and it is diaphoretic and alterative. Therapeutic ally is used as both external and internal remedy against skin diseases, rheumatic arthritis, asthma, jaundice and blood poisoning.
Arsenic: As per Siddha kalpa, purified and consolidated arsenic is effective against all fevers, asthma and anaemia.
Gold: It is alterative, nervine tonic, antidote to poison and a powerful sexual stimulant. Very little is absorbed in the system. Care is taken to see that calcinations of gold is freed from metallic state and lustre to ensure safe absorption in the system.
Thus, these drugs and metallic minerals can be screened for its antiviral, immune stimulant and immuno-modulator activity. As HIV negative people have taken Kalpha drugs for rejuvenation and long life, it is believed that if Kayakapla therapy is thoroughly investigated using modern parameters, it might lead one to find whether these drugs could be used in preventative or curative benefits in AIDS or other diseases.
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