'Siddha Medicine' means medicine that is perfect... Nobody knows when it originated. It evolved when the world started from spiritual life. Siddha Medicine is a boon for chronic ailments like arthritis and diabetes for which allopathy doesn't have permanent cure. Vishwa Brahma Dutt meditated for 41,000 years. He could then connect and communicate with the elements air, water, ether, earth and fire, and also the plants. Subsequent men and women who dedicated their lives into developing the system were called 'Siddhars'. They compiled the knowledge and left it for the future generations, without even mentioning their names.

Siddha medicine is a form of medical treatment of diseases using substances of all possible origins in a way that balances the possible harmful effect of each substance. This form of medicine is still today well known in South India. The use of metals like gold, silver and iron powders (Sanskrit bhasma) in some preparations is a special feature of Siddha medicine, which claims it can detoxify metals to enable them to be used for stubborn diseases. This claim is especially relevant in the case of mercury which is relatively often used in the system; that means medicine containing purified mercury should only be received from a highly qualified practitioner of the art.

Eighteen siddhas seem to have existed. They should have lived at different periods and bequeathed their experiences in medicine and yoga to posterity.

The names of these eighteen Siddhas differ from one source to another. It is not necessary to dogmatise which of these enumerations is correct. Some of the Siddhas, for example, Kapila and Kakabujanda have written treatises both in Tamil and in Sanskrit. It is possible that the originals were written in Tamil and that they were translated into Sanskrit later.

The following is the list of eighteen Siddhas according to one recension:
  • Nandi
  • Agasthiyar
  • Thirumular
  • Punnakkeesar
  • Pulasthiyar
  • Poonaikannar
  • Idaikadar
  • Bogar
  • Pulikai Isar
  • Karuvurar
  • Konkanavar
  • Kalangi
  • Sattainathar
  • Azhuganni
  • Agappai
  • Pambatti
  • Theraiyar and
  • Kudhambai

Types of Therapy

There are eight methods that cleanse and soothe the system.

Purgative therapy

Purgatives provide relief from excess vatham problems like arthritis and paraplegia. Purgatives are given in summer months. Potions from rose petals, Tinnevely seena, fig and Indian jalap are used. Purgatives are given in summer at four-month intervals. Old people, children, and pregnant women are not given purgatives.

Emetic Therapy

Emetic therapy is used to rid the body of Pitham and Kapham diseases associated with vatham. An emetic is medicine that causes vomiting. Randia dumentorum, Brassica juncea, Alum, Ammonium chloride, Curcumis colocynthus, Lufa amera are used to prepare emetics. For people who have used psychotropic drugs, an emetic prepared with nine grams of mustard powder in 250 ml of warm water is administered.

Emetics are given every six months. Pregnant women, patients of hernia, and haematemesis should not be given emetics.

Fasting Therapy

This is advised in febrile conditions. Siddha believes that fevers are caused because of disturbances in the digestive sheath. While some schools advise complete fasting, some Siddhars advocate a light or liquid diet. Pregnant women, people with other ailments, children, and the aged are advised against this form of therapy.

Steam Therapy

Steam therapy is used in case of localised oedema. Steam removes the excess fluid in the body. Sometimes herbs or a red hot metal are added to boiling water. Turmeric powder and nochi leaves are the commonly used herbs. For sinusitis, lemon seeds and turmeric are used for steam inhalation. For body ache salt, Carum copticum, asafoetida and Piper longum are added to boiling water.

Oiletion Therapy

For diseases of the neck and head, an oil massage and bath are recommended. Lac (arakku) thailam (medicated oil), dry ginger thailam and black pepper thailam are commonly used. For diseases of the nose and throat, nochi (negundo) thailam is used.

Physical Therapy

This involves massage with or without oil, tapping, pressing, catching, tying, pulling, pushing, pressing or physically applying pressure for therapeutics. It relaxes the body, regulates circulation, and increases vitality in the individual. This therapy has to be administered by experts only.

Solar Therapy

Exposing patients to sunlight is said to be beneficial for vatham complaints. All parts, except the head can be exposed to sunlight. Some schools observe that the evening rays of the sun are the best for healing.

Blood Letting

In the early stages of certain diseases, toxins are removed by the use of purgatives and emetics. In certain advanced conditions, bloodletting is necessary. Bloodletting is done by leech application, venesection, and by drains. Blood letting is useful in cases of psychiatric illnesses, colic pain, elephantiasis, gonococcal arthritis and blood disorders.