Siddha Medicine

5 mins read

Origins, benefits, efficacy, and methodology

The Siddha medical system is a formalized traditional medical system of India. Practitioners of Siddha claim that this system of medicine has not been derived from Ayurveda. They say that it was taken from the writings of the 18 cittars who lived in the 10th to 15th century and wrote cryptic verses in Tamil. From these compositions, medical knowledge was preserved and passed on from generation to generation.1

What is Siddha? Where did it originate?
In Siddha medicine, the therapist checks on the pulse to diagnose underlying medical ailments. Other signs and symptoms are ancillary to the pulse.

  • According to Siddha medicine, the foundation for any illness is potential imbalance in the three humors – the bile or pittam, the wind or vayu, and the phlegm or kapam. When these three humors are in equilibrium, the human body is healthy.
  • The nature of the imbalance in a patient’s body is determined by reading his or her pulse.
  • A qualified Siddha therapist can identify six different pulses instead of the single diastolic-systolic pulse identified by conventional medicine.
  • Of the six various pulses, three are read using the right wrist and the other three are read from the left wrist.1

The word “Siddha” means “Siddhi,” which translates to achievements in fields such as yoga, wisdom, philosophy, medicine, alchemy and longevity. People who obtain Siddhi are respectfully called “Siddhars.” Agasthiyar is one among the 18 Siddhars who contributed significantly towards the development of the Siddha system of medicine. He is known as the “Hippocrates of Siddha” and is one of the greatest philosophers of India.4

How is Siddha medicine beneficial?
Siddha medicine is said to treat the following conditions:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Alopecia
  • Diabetic ulcer
  • Warts
  • Vitiligo
  • Pemphigus
  • Pompholyx
  • Leprosy2

Studies/research on its efficacy
Semecarpus Lehyam, a medicine used in the Siddha system, has proved to have potent anti-cancerous properties against ER-negative breast cancer cells.3

How is Siddha medicine performed?
During the procedure, a Siddha therapist holds the patient’s right wrist with his left hand and puts his index finger at the base of the thumb on the inner side of the wrist.

  • He or she then puts his/her middle finger next to the index finger and the ring finger next to the middle finger.
  • Each of the three fingers read a different pulse. The index finger reads the pulse that signifies the wind humor, the middle finger reads the status of the bile humor, and the ring finger reads the status of the phlegm humor.
  • These three pulses are supposed to throb at three distinct rates. These rates are compared to the walking of a chicken (wind humor), jumping of a frog (bile humor), and slithering of a snake (phlegm humor).
  • The interval of time between the pulsations is known as natai, or pace, or walk.1

After the distinct pulses have been identified, the therapist will try to sense the differential pressure put by these pulses, using his fingertips. These differential pressures are called etai or weights. A comparison of these etai determines which humor currently dominates in the person’s system and which humor is in low amounts.1

The same procedure is repeated with the other hand. Thus, each humor has a left aspect and a right aspect. In total, there are six sub-humors, with each sub-humor controlling a body tissue or body fluid.1

How can you get started with Siddha Medicine?
Siddha medicine is based on the premise of theories of Five Elements (Aimpootham) and the Three Forces/Faults (Mukkuttram). In order to diagnose and treat disease, along with etiology and prognosis, the Eight Methods of Examination (Envakai Thervukal) are utilized.2

The examination of urine is a major diagnostic tool in Siddha medicine. The aspects of urine that are noted are color, smell, density, froth formation, quantity, surface tension, and pattern of oil spreading on the surface of urine.4

Treatment is individualistic taking into account the patient’s meteorological considerations, environment, age, gender, race, habits, habitat, diet, mental frame, appetite, physiological constitution, physical condition, and so on. 4

There are three groups of resources drawn on by Siddha medicine – plant products or mulavargam, inorganic substances or thathuvargam, and animal products or jivavargam. These resources are categorized by means of quality or gunam, taste or suvai, post-digestive taste or pirivu, potency or veeryam, and specific action or prabhavam.4

Any precautions, contraindications, interactions
No adverse effects have been reported so far in the practice of Siddha.

Citations:

  1. Daniel E.V., Pugh J.F. South Asian Systems of Healing, v10. Brill Archive; 1984. 126 p. [E. Valentine Daniel, Judy F. Pugh]
  2. Thas JJ. Siddha medicine–background and principles and the application for skin diseases. Clin Dermatol. 2008 Jan-Feb;26(1):62-78. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2007.11.010. Review. PubMed PMID: 18280906.
  3. Sowmyalakshmi S, Nur-E-Alam M, Akbarsha MA, Thirugnanam S, Rohr J, Chendil D. Investigation on Semecarpus Lehyam–a Siddha medicine for breast cancer. Planta. 2005 Apr;220(6):910-8. Epub 2004 Oct 28. PubMed PMID: 15517350.
  4. Ram A, Joseph D.A., Balachandar S, Singh V.P. Medicinal plants from Siddha system of medicine useful for treating respiratory diseases. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis. 2009; 1(2):20-30
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