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Siddha: An Ancient System of Medicine

The Siddha system of medicine emphasizes that the medical treatment shall be oriented not merely to disease but hasto be individualized with far less chances of committing mistake in diagnosis or treatment.

Siddha system is one of the oldest systems of medicine in India. The term ‘Siddha’ means achievement and the ‘Siddhars’ were saintly figures who achieved results in medicine through the practice of Yoga. Eighteen ‘Siddhars’ seem to have contributed towards the development of this medical system. Siddha system’s literature is in Tamil and it is practised in Tamil speaking parts if India. The system is also called Agasthyar system in the name of its famous exponent sage Agasthya. A number of medical works of this system are ascribed to him ut it may be difficult at this distant time to say the exact number that can be credited to him. This system of medicine developed within the Dravidian culture which is of the pre-vedic period. The Siddha system is largely therapeutic in nature.

Basic Concepts
The principles and doctrines of this system, both fundamental and applied, have a close similarity to Ayurveda, with specialization in iatrochemistry. The difference between these two systems is more linguistic than doctrinal. According to this system the human body is the replica of the universe and so are the food and drugs irrespective of their origin.

Like Ayurveda, this system believes that all objects in the universe including human body are composed of five basic elements namely, earth, water, fire, air and sky. The food which the human body takes and the drugs it uses are all made of these five elements. The proportion of the elements present in the drugs vary and their preponderance or otherwise is responsible for certain actions and therapeutic results.

As in Ayurveda, this system also considers the human body as a conglomeration of three humours, seven basic tissues and the waste products of the body such as faeces, urine and sweat. The food is considered to be basic building material of human body which gets processed into humours, tissues, and wastes. The equilibrium of humours, body tissues and waste products is considered as health and its disturbance of imbalance leads to disease or sickness.

This system also deals with the concept of salvation in this life. The exponents of this system consider achievement of this state is possible by medicines and meditation.

Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of disease involves identifying its causes. Identification of causative factors is done through the examination of pulse reading, urine examination, of eyes, study of voice, colour of body, examination of the tongue and status of the digestive system of human body. The system has worked out detailed procedure of urine examination which includes study of its colour, smell, density, quantity and oil drop spreading pattern. Diagnosis involves the study of person as a whole as well as his disease.

The Siddha system of medicine emphasizes that the medical treatment shall be oriented not merely to disease but has to take into account the patient, his environment, the meteorological consideration, age, s*x, race, habits, mental frame habitat, diet, appetite, physical condition, physiological constitution etc. This means the treatment has to be individualized with far less chances of committing mistake in diagnosis or treatment.

Research Units for Siddha

  • Central Research Institute
  • Regional Research Institute
  • Drug Standardization Research Units
  • Mobile Clinical Research Unit
  • Clinical Research Units
  • Tribal Health Care Research Units
  • Medicinal Plants and Other Research Units
There are two Siddha undergraduate colleges with admission capacity of 150 students. These colleges are affiliated to university. In one of the colleges there are facilities for postgraduate education with admission capacity of 20 students. There are two compounder training centres with admission capacity of 60.

There Central Council of Indian Medicine regulates the education of Siddha system in the country. Within the Council, there is a separate education committee for this system. The education committee is charged to deal with all matters pertaining to Siddha education including the development of a detailed curriculum and syllabus both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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