Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala, the homeland of ayurveda, has taken the lead in popularising the oldest but lesser-known Indian system of medicine, Siddha, which is said to be effective in treating several modern-day ailments including cancer.
The first Siddha college in the country, outside of Tamil Nadu where the system originated, was opened in Kerala in November 2002 after approval from the state government and the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM).
The Santhigiri Siddha College, run by the renowned Thiruvananthapuram-based Santhigiri Ashram, has drawn a good response from local students with all the 25 management quota seats for the first year finding ready takers, says its principal V Arunachalam.
Arunachalam, also CCIM's vice-president, says Siddha, which is believed to date back to 4,000 BC, is the oldest of the Indian systems of medicine.
Besides a huge Materia Medica, which consists more than 500 medicines made of herbs, metals, minerals and animal by-products, Siddha has also made unique contributions such as pulse diagnosis and alchemy to the treatment of diseases, he says.
The system also incorporates advanced techniques of physiotherapy, traumatology or varma chikitsa to treat injuries, surgery and medicated massages. However, compared to ayurveda, little was known about Siddha as all its texts are in Tamil and little effort has been made to translate these into other languages.
Stating that Siddha medicines have been found highly effective in treating cancer without having the debilitating side-effects caused by conventional methods such as chemeotherapy, Arunachalam says the Chennai-based AIDS and Cancer Centre has recently initiated research to combine allopathic and Siddha medicines for the treatment of cancer and AIDS. "Their work is showing progressive results."