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 the southern India, on the banks of the river Kavery, and Tamirapani, a civilization which was highly organised
(1) This civilization has a system of medicine to deal with problems of sanitation and treatment of diseases. This is the Siddha system of medicine. It is possible that in the course of time this system and the one prevalent in the north supplemented and enriched each other. The therapeutics of Siddha medicines consists mainly of the use of metals and minerals whereas in the earlier Ayurveda texts there is no mention of metals and minerals
(2). From earliest times in Siddha text, there is mention of mercury, sulphur, copper, arsenic and gold used as therapeutic agents. The analogy : if there are one hundred herbal /mineral combination in Ayurveda to cure a disease , Siddha just uses ten herbs/mineral to elicit a similar cure. The Tridosha theory , sapta dhatu physiology and nomenclature of the diseases in the two systems may seem similar. According to Siddha medicine AIDS has been written by the Tamil Siddhars as far back as few thousand years during the ancient prehistoric civilisation of Southern India. Traditionally, it is said there were 18 Siddhas. They left their imprint not only in medicine, but in yoga and philosophy. The Siddhas were essentially Yogis and secondarily physicians.
Fundamental Principles of Siddha medicine
The human anatomy and physiology, causative factor of diseases, the materials for the treatment and cure of the diseases, the foods for the sustenance of the body, all fall within the five elemental categories (3) .
The human being is made up of these five elements, in different combinations. The physiological function in the body is mediated by three substances (dravayas), which are made up of the five elements. They are Vatham, Pitham, and Karpam. In each and every cell of the body these three doshas co-exist and function harmoniously. The tissues are called dhatus. Vatham is formed by Akasa 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, warmth, etc. Kapam is formed by Munn and Neer and controls stability. When their equilibrium is upsets disease sets in. The chart below may help to visualize the different properties. In addition to the influence of the Tridoshas the seasons also affects body constituents as evident in northern and southern India.
The five elements
Tridoshas according to Siddha Medicine
The seven tissues (dhatus) one of the three doshas predominate as shown in chart above in third column. The seven dhatus are: Rasa (lymph), Kurudhi(blood), Tasai(muscle), Kozhuppu (adipose tissue), Elumbu(bone), Majjai (marrow) and Sukkilam and Artavam (male and female hormones) (4).
The theory of predominance of the Tridoshas according to age and season varies from that of Ayurveda (see chart). Plus in Ayurveda the experts argue that Vatham predominates in old age as in last one third of life contributing to emaciation, dryness, etc.( as opposed to Karpam in Siddha) but as anyone who has been to north and south India will attest to -the extreme weather in the opposite ends of the country will affects individuals differently. Hence both theories could very well be correct.
Method of Treatment - The treatment 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 predominately of the opposite nature. An example is 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 (5).
Five types of Vayu