Siddha medicine, traditional system of healing that originated in South India and is considered to be one of India’s oldest systems of medicine. The Siddha system is based on a combination of ancient medicinal practices and spiritual disciplines as well as alchemy and mysticism.

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Brief History

Siddha is thought to have developed during the Indus civilization, which flourished between 2500 and 1700 BCE. According to this theory, it came to South India when the Dravidian people, who may have been the original inhabitants of the Indus valley, migrated southward.

Main Texts

Siddha system is one of the oldest systems of medicine in India . The term Siddha means achievements and Siddhars were saintly persons who achieved results in medicine. Eighteen Siddhars were said to have contributed towards the development of this medical system. Siddha literature is in Tamil and it is practised largely in Tamil speaking part of India and abroad. The Siddha System is largely therapeutic in nature.

Shangam Literature

Siddha medicine appears as part of Tamil culture in the earliest Tamil writings. For example, there are references to it in Tamil shangam literature (1st–4th century CE), including mention in the Tolkappiyam (“Ancient Literature”), a treatise on grammar and poetics, and in Tirukkural (“Sacred Couplets”), a work attributed to the Tamil poet-saint Tiruvalluvar.

Family Tradition

The knowledge of Siddhars which was orally transmitted initially was later written in palm leaf manuscripts, fragments of which are found in many parts of South India. The methodology of siddha thought has helped decipher many causes of disorders and the formulation of curious remedies which sometimes have more than 250 ingredients. Till half a century back most of the practicing siddha medical practitioners were traditionally trained, usually in families, and by Gurus (teachers). When the guru knew martial arts he is also known as an asan. It is believed that some families may possess more knowledge written in palm leaves but keep them solely for their own use.


Some of the basic concept of Siddha.

Similar to Ayurveda

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, body tissues and waste products. The equilibrium of humours is considered as health and its disturbance or imbalance leads to disease or sickness.


The three doshas may be compared to three pillars that support a structure. The physiological function in the body is mediated by three substances (dravayas), which are made up of the five elements and are involved in all functions of the body, physical, emotional and mental. They are Vatham, Pitham and Karpam. In each and every cell of the body these three doshas coexist and function harmoniously. The tissues are called dhatus.


In this world and universe around it are made up by the five basic elements, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, which are called the fundamental Bhutas (Elements). The origins of the five elements are clearly described in Siddha medicine and which is formed by different substances in the universe by various combinations of the elements. The living creatures and the non-living things are made up of these five elements. They are the primordial elements Bhutas (Five elements), not to be confused with modern chemistry. These are Munn (solid), Neer (fluid), Thee (radiance), Vayu (gas) and Aakasam (ether). These five elements (Bhutas) are present in every substance, but in different proportions. Earth, water, fire, air and ether are manifestations of these five elements. The physical constituents which are identical to the various types of tissues are called as Udal Thathus (Body Constituents). They are also constituted by the five elements namely Saram (Primary Nourishing Fluid), Senneer (Blood), Oon (Muscle), Kozhuppu (Fat), Enbu (Bone) and Moolai (Bone Marrow).

Basics of siddha medicine

The basic concepts of the Siddha medicine are almost similar to Ayurveda. The only difference appears to be that the Siddha medicine recognizes predominance of vatham, pitham and kapam in childhood, adulthood and old age, respectively, whereas in Ayurveda it is totally reversed- kapam is dominant in childhood, vatham in old age and pitham in adults. As per the Siddha medicine various psychological and physiological functions of the body are attributed to the combination of seven elements- 1. Saram (Digestive juice). Saram means Prana vayu (Oxygen) responsible for growth, development and nourishment; 2. Cheneer (blood) responsible for nourishing muscles, imparting color and improving intellect; 3. Ooun (muscle) responsible for shape of the body; 4. Kollzuppu (fatty tissue) responsible for oil balance and lubricating joints; 5. Enbu (bone) responsible for body structure and posture and movement; 6. Moolai (Bone marrow- responsible for the production of RBC, etc). 7. Sukila (semen) responsible for reproduction.

Concept of disease and their cause

When the normal equilibrium of three humors (vatha, pitha and kapha) is disturbed, disease is caused. The factors which affect this equilibrium are environment, climatic conditions, diet, physical activities and stress. Under normal conditions, the ratio between these three humors (vatha, pitha and kapha) is 1:1/2:1/4, respectively. According to the Siddha medicine system diet and life style play a major role not only in health but also in curing diseases. This concept of the Siddha medicine is termed as pathya and apathya, which is essentially a list of do’s and dont’s.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The diagnosis and treatment of the disease are as follows:


The diagnostic methodology in Siddha treatment is unique as it is made purely on the basis of the clinical acumen of the physician. The pulse, skin, tongue, complexion, speech, eye, stools and urine are examined. This approach is collectively known as "Eight types of examination"; and among the eight, the examination of pulse is very important in confirming the diagnosis.


The Siddha System of Medicine emphasizes that medical treatment is oriented not merely to disease but has to take into account the patient, environment, the meteorological consideration, age, sex, race, habits, mental frame, habitat, diet, appetite, physical condition, physiological constitution etc. This means the treatment has to be individualistic, which ensures that mistakes in diagnosis or treatment are minimal. Treatment consists of three distinct categories- Deva Maruthuvam, (divine method); Maanida Maruthuvam (rational method); and Asura Maruthuvam (surgical method). The therapeutic treatment in Siddha could be further categorized into Purgative therapy, Emetic therapy, Fasting therapy, Steam therapy, Oleation therapy, Physical therapy, Solar therapy, Blood letting therapy and Yoga therapy.

Types of Treatment

The types of treatment can broadly be classified as:

Deva Maruthuvam (divine method)

In the divine method, medicines like parpam, chenduram, guru, kuligai prepared from mercury, sulphur and pashanams are used.

Maanida Maruthuvam (rational method)

In the rational method, medicines prepared from herbs like churanam, kudineer, vadagam are used.

Asura Maruthuvam (surgical method)

In surgical method, incision, excision, heat application, bloodletting, leech application etc. are practised.

Regulatory Authority

The Central Council of Indian Medicine

It is the statutory body constituted under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 vide gazette notification extraordinary part (ii) section 3(ii) dated 10.8.71.

Since its establishment in 1971, the Central Council has been framing on and implementing various regulations including the Curricula and Syllabii in Indian Systems of Medicine viz. Ayurved, Siddha and Unani Tibb at Under-graduate and Post-graduate level. The Sowa Rigpa System of Medicine is included in the Central Council of Indian Medicine from the year 2012 as per Gazette Notification No. 2345 dated 16.12.2011. Now, all the Colleges of Indian Systems of Medicine are affiliated to various Universities in the Country. These Colleges are following the minimum standards of education and Curricula and Syllabii, prescribed by Central Council.

Important Institutions


The regulatory authority as per the provisions introduced the following courses through Regulations.

Degree Course

Siddha Degree Course - The degree awarded is d Bachelor of Siddha Medicine dnd Surgery-B.S.M.S (Siddha Maruthuva Arignar). The duration of Course is 5 years 6 months. The minimum amission qualification is 12th Standard with 50% aggregate marks in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

PG Degree

Siddha Post Graduation Degree Course - The degree awarded is MD (Siddha). The duration of Course is 3 years. The minimum amission qualification is Bachelor of Siddha Medicine dnd Surgery-B.S.M.S.

PG Diploma

Ayurveda Post Graduation Diploma Course - Post-Graduate Diploma in Siddha awarded in 11 specilaities. The duration of Course is 2 years. The minimum amission qualification is Bachelor of Siddha Medicine dnd Surgery-B.S.M.S.

Ph.D Siddha

Siddha Ph.D Course - Degree awarded Ph.D Siddha.

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