Siddha System of Medicine

  • Introduction
  • Basic Principles
  • Diagnosis
  • Art of Pulse Diagnosis
  • Siddha Therapeutics
  • Siddha Treatment
  • Kayakarpam
  • Varmam
  • Thokkanam
  • Similarities between Siddha and Ayurveda


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    Siddha system is a very old system of medicine which enriched the mankind from time immemorial. This system was found by Siddhars. Siddha comes from the word Siddhi which means an object to be attained perfection or heavenly bliss. Siddha focuses “Ashtamahasiddhi,” the eight supernatural powers. Those who attained or achieved the powers are known as Siddhars. There were 18 important Siddhars in olden days-headed by Siddhar ‘Agasthiyar’ and they developed this system of medicine.. Hence, it is called Siddha medicine.
    Siddhars are the spiritual scientists who explored the world through their inner eye. They strongly believed that a healthy and strong body is necessary to attain the heavenly bliss. So they found remedy from nature to cure various diseases in order to maintain a healthy body and attain the elixir of life. They followed a disciplined and a healthy life and did an extensive studies in various fields. They had documented them in palm leaves as manuscripts and gifted to the mankind.

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    The principles of siddha system basically depend on the

    • Five Primordial elements(neer, nilam, nerupu, kattru, aagayam),
    • Three Humors (Vatham, Pittham, Kabam) and
    • Six Tastes (inipu, pulippu, uppu, kaippu, karpu, thuvarpu).

    Selective combination of these primordial elements gives the respective taste. The three humors namely Vatham, Pittham and Kabam are the main basic principles which maintain the body equilibrium. They are in the ratio of 1:1/2:1/4. Any changes in the ratio of those three humors bring the disease. Therefore Siddhars aimed to treat diseases to bring the three humors to equilibrium.

    The seven elements of body are the essential components which also should be maintained in the proper ratio.

    1.Ooneer (plasma) responsible for growth, development and nourishment;
    2.Cheneer (blood) responsible for nourishing muscles, imparting colour and improving intellect;
    3.Oon(muscle) responsible for shape of the body;
    4.Koluppu/Kozhuppu (fatty tissue) responsible for oil balance and lubricating joints;
    5.Elumbu (bone) responsible for body structure and posture and movement;
    6.Elumbumajjai (bone marrow) responsible for formation of blood corpuscles; and
    7.Sukkilam (semen) responsible for reproduction.

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    Siddhars followed certain methods for diagnosis. Most important part is the eight ways of diagnosis – “ennvakaiththervu“. These are:

    1. Na (tongue): black in Vaatham, yellow or red in Pitham, white in kabam.
    2. Varnam (colour): dark in Vaatham, yellow or red in Pitham, pale in Kabam.
    3. Kural (voice): normal in Vaatham, high-pitched in pitham, low-pitched in kabam.
    4. Kan (eyes): muddy conjunctiva, yellowish or red in pitham, pale in kabam.
    5. Thodal (touch): dry in Vaatham, warm in pitham, chill in kapha.
    6. Malam (stool): black stools indicate Vaatham, yellow pitham, pale in kabam.
    7. Neer (urine): white-vatham, yellow-pitham,white with froth-kabam
    8. Naadi (pulse): the confirmatory method recorded on the radial artery.

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    Siddhars have made an extensive study in pulse. They monitored the body functions through the pulse. They classified them as vatham, pittham and kabam. Almost all diseases of the human can be diagnosed and treated by a system of naadinool or gauging the pulses of dasanaadis (ten principal nerves).

    nadi - pulse diagnosis








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    Siddha drugs are obtained from plants, metals, minerals and animal products. There are 64 types of medicine in Siddha pharmacopoeia, 32 for internal administration(agamarunthu) and 32 for external applications(puramarunthu), besides 11 metals. Diet and Anupanam (vehicle for administration) plays a very important role in Siddha treatment.

    There are certain specialized Siddha preparations are ‘parpam’, ‘chendooram’, ‘chunnam’, ‘mezhagu’,`karrupu , manappagu, theener which are unique to the system. The raw drugs are purified, triturated with herbal juices and subjected to the process of incineration. Thus there is atransmutation processes of converting the mineral to most bio degradable, non toxic ashes which has a high medicinal value in treating the diseases without any side effects.
    The aim of siddha medicine is to make the body perfect, imperishable and to promote longevity. For the healthy life, Siddhars have mentioned daily and seasonal regimen including dietary habits and also insisted some code of ethics. This is the first system to emphasis health as the perfect state of physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual component of human beings.

    உடம்பார் அழியின் உயிரார் அழிவர்
    திடம்பட மெய்ஞானம் சேரவும் மாட்டார்
    உடம்பை வளர்க்கும் உபாயம் அறிந்தே
    உடம்பை வளர்த்தேன் உயிர்வளர்த் தேனே
    – திருமூலர்

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    The treatment in siddha medicine is aimed at keeping the three humors in equilibrium and maintenance of seven elements. So proper diet, medicine and a disciplined regimen of life are advised for a healthy living. Equilibrium of the three humors is restored in diseased condition.
    Treatment is classified into three categories:

    • devamaruthuvum(Divine method);
    • manudamaruthuvum (rational method); and
    • asuramaruthuvum (surgical method).
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    Siddha system is a unique system with many specialties in treating diseases and way of living. Siddha medicines act as preventive as well as curative by rejuvenating and revitalizing the body.

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    Kayakarpamis the special branch of siddha system. “Kayam” means body and “karpam” means keeping the body strong without any diseases. It is the rejuvenation of the body by preventing aging, disease and death. Siddhars have classified many numbers of herbs as kayakarpam and also certain drugs come under this kayakarpam.

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    Varmam are vital points in the body that act as energy transformers or batteries. They form centres for boosting the vital life-force UyirSakthi flow through the intricate nadisystem of the body. Nature, by its design, has protected these vital centers by placing them deep inside the body or by covering them with tissues inaccessible to normal attempts of breach.

    Varmams have been classified based on the type of pressure needed to injure:

    • Paduvarmam (varmam due to injury),
    • Thoduvarmam (by touch);
    • Thattuvarmam (by blows),
    • Thaduvuvarmam (by massage),
    • Nakkuvarmam (by licking i.e. tongue massage), and
    • Nokku (by staring).

    The widely used and recognised ones are the 12 Paduvarmams and 96 Thoduvarmams
    Any trauma to these vital points may cause loss of consciousness or convulsions or even death. But gentle vibration or pressure applied in these points relieves the obstruction of the energy flow.

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    Yoga is a part of the siddha system. Many siddhars have established the importance of yoga and explained the methods. The great siddharpattanjalihas described yoga in an extensive manner. Yoga is one of the special branch in siddha system which rejuvenate and revitalize the body. It brings the oneness of both body and mind.

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    Pranayamam is the part of yoga which is the breathing exercise. It regulates the breathing process thus it tones the lungs and eliminates the toxicity from the body. Pranayama is also considered as one of the kayakalpam methods preventing the body from diseases and ageing. Pranayamam regulates the function of vital organs by improving the circulation of oxygen. It restores good health and relieves stress and anxiety.

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    It is the massage therapy widely classified into nine types depending on the procedure we apply the pressure. Through this thokkanammany chronic rheumatological, traumatical and neurological problems are treated. It improves blood circulation, increases lymphatic circulation, eliminates the toxic residues thus it revitalizes the body. Massage therapy is done by medicated oil and herbs. It mainly relieves stress and brings relaxation to both body and soul.

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    Similarities between Siddha and Ayurveda

    Even though Siddha and Ayurveda are generally considered to be different systems of Indian medicines, when studied deep, both the systems are one and the same. Both these systems are very much holistic and aim at both preventive and curative aspects of a disease. These systems preach spiritual impacts as well as scientific impacts of health over an individual. Both systems got evolved 3000-3500 years ago in India, Ayurveda in North and Siddha in South, hence the Structural, Physiological and philosophical concepts of Health and all the factors that influence health are documented in the same way but we can see certain differences between these systems on the basis of climate, culture, language plants and mineral availability in North and South India. The basic concepts like Panchabhootam, Mukkutram, yezhuUdarkattukal, Mummalamare same in both these systems. Most of the formulations, their raw drugs, diseases for which they are prescribed are identical.