Centre for Traditional Medicine & Research, Chennai-600088
Lecture delivered during the National Seminar on ‘Entrepreneurship development for Biology Students’ on 25th Sept, 2009 at Govt. Arts College, Nandanam, Chennai
Siddha medicine, a traditional system of the Dravidian culture, practiced in the Southern India.
Other well known Indian System of Medicine is Ayurveda .
These Indian System of Medicine are based on principles of nature.
The source of medicines of these systems are from plants, animals including marine organism and inorganic.
Extensive research have been conducted in drugs of plant origin (Pre-clinical and Clinical studies). But very little research has gone into drugs of faunal origin.
This probably because they seems to be safer and effective when compared to drugs of Inorganic origin as human is also from animal kingdom
Many drugs of Animal origin were extensively used by the Siddha physicians.
Milk , honey, curd, clarified butter , fish oils, turtle shell and flesh, deer horn are some simplest examples of animal products used either as drug or as adjuvant
But, Animal origin drugs are also becoming restricted in use because of their over exploitation and endangered availability and also due to governmental regulations.
Proteins and amino acids apart from animal fats and trace elements contribute for the biological activity of these medicines.
Leech – Hirudina medicinalis
Bloodletting is one of the oldest medical practices, having been practiced among diverse ancient peoples, in order to detoxify the body as detoxification is one of the treatment procedure.
Saliva of Leech contain hirudin which is anti-coagulant in nature.
Leech saliva also contains a Factor Xa inhibitor, and this compound restrains the coagulating effect of the coagulation Factor Xa.
It also has hyaluronidase that enhances the viscosity of the interstitial fluid. For vasodilating effect, it has acetylcholine and histamine-like substances as well as carboxypeptidase A inhibitors. These three can increase blood flow by dilating constricted vessels.
Leech Therapy - Procedure
- Before placing leeches on the skin, they are cleansed with clean water.
- Treatment sites vary, depending upon the affected part where the vascular problems are more prominent.
- Depending on individual cases, approximately each area requires between 7 to 14 leeches each consultation, but it still depends on the severity of the case.
- After the leeches are placed and have fastened themselves onto the skin, they are usually left until they automatically disengage themselves from the patient.
- Each leech can suck about 15 to 20 ml.
- Once treatment is complete, the area is cleaned and bandaged but may continue bleeding due to the anti-clotting factor in the leeches saliva.
- After five days of continuous leech therapy, a patient will feel improvement in their condition.
- To arrest excessive bleeding after blood letting, astringent powders like Quercus infectoria (Masikkaai), Acacia catechu (Kaichukatti), Areca catechu (Pakku), Terminalia chebula (Kadukkai) and alum are sprinkled and a compress is made with sterile gauze.
Leeches safe to use:
Leech should be collected from ponds which contain large number of live frogs and covered by weeds.
Rat tail shape leech with thin ends are good for therapy. The leeches of 5 -7 centimeters length are ideal.
Diseases treated with Leech therapy
This process is essentially meant for purification of the blood
- Skin diseases,
- Psychiatric illness,
- Head ache, eye, ear, tongue, colic,
- Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lumbo-sacral diseases
- Lymphatic disorders.
- Venesection is done to remove toxins from snake bite and other envenomation.
Leeches are never placed on major veins like the jugular vein or the femoral vein. Likewise, they are not placed on the breasts, eyelids or delicate structures of the body.
Blood letting is contraindicated in tuberculosis, emaciating disorders, convulsive disorders, pregnancy and anemia. During the time of rain, heavy wind and cold weather, blood letting should not be done.
Growing of leech for therapy
Leeches can be grown in fish tanks
They normally feed on tadpoles
Commercially leeches are maintained and sold by animal houses.
- Contains trace element copper as per Siddha literature, used to treat vatha diseases (arthritis),
- Honey is a delicious and highly nutritious food.
- In traditional method of honey hunting, many wild colonies of bees are destroyed. This can be prevented by raising bees in boxes and producing honey at home.
- Honey acts as Wound healer, Nourisher, Laxative, Astringent, Expectorant, Preservative
- Honey is used as one of the ingredients in preparing Lehyam.
- Honey is used as an adjuvant or vehicle along with medicines.
- Honey applied to face removes black spots or marks and provides good complexion.
- A base for most creams and ointments and pain balms
- Provides excellent body for Creams.
- Wound healing, anti-inflammatory and Moisturizing
- Wax bath in Arthritis, Waxing by women for removal of unwanted hair.
- Pinda thylam is also used for abdominal massage for easy delivery
Potentials of Bee keeping
- Bee keeping requires less time, money and infrastructure investments
- Honey and beeswax can be produced from an area of little agricultural value
- The Honey bee does not compete for resources with any other agricultural enterprise.
- Beekeeping has positive ecological consequences. Bees play an important role in the pollination of many flowering plants, thus increasing the yield of certain crops such as sunflower and various fruits.
- Beekeeping can be initiated by individuals or groups
- The market potential for honey and wax is high
Milk and Milk products
- Milk and milk products are used as medicines and adjuvant to be given along medicines.
- Clarified butter (ghee) is used as adjuvant or vehicle.
- Many medicine prepared along with clarified butter, it also acts as preservative of the medicines prepared out of it.
- It is used to extract fat soluble substances out of the herbs.
Bhrami ghirtam :
A formulation prepared out of Bhrami (Bacopa monnieri) is used as Brain and nervine tonic, Restorative and Stimulant, Improves memory.
- Chitin, Glucosamine, chitoson, are derived from Crab, Crayfish, Lobster, Prawn, Shrimp shells
- Chondroitin Sulfate Sodium from bovine trachea is used to treat cartilage problems in joints.
- Gelatin used for capsulation is derived from animal bones.
- Lanolin is derived from sheep fat used as moisturizer.
- Ox gall – Korosanai – Used as expectorant.
- Feathers of the Birds are also used in Traditional Medicines in order to treat snake bite
- Along with Medicated oils used to treat wounds.
- Egg shells are calcined and used as demulcents.
- Yellow yolk of egg is used in the preparation of ‘Anda thailam’ used in speech disorders.
- Egg albumin is used to triturate many inorganic substances and
- Peacock feather contains trace element like copper as per Siddha literatures.
- Charred peacock feather is a drug of choice in Hiccough
- Used in treating patients suffering from Tuberculosis.
- Very good nutritive and dietary supplement
- Cardiac tonic.
- Pharmacological action of Pearl and Pearl oyster more or less similar.
Conch shell - Sangu
- Calcined Conch Shell is used to treat gastritis, dysmenorrhoea and skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema etc.
- External Application : Conch Shell immersed water is used to treat Pimple- Acne vulgaris.
- Parts used for Medicine: Shell, Flesh, Fat, Skin and Egg.
- Aamai ottu karukku kudineer is a drug of choice in child care.
- Blood: Blood of Tortoise is given orally to treat bronchitis, which is in practice in local health tradition in Tuticorn dist.
- Calcined shell (Aamai ottu parpam): The shell of tortoise is calcined with Justicia adhatoda juice, aloe juice, and Abutilon juice. It is used for the treatment of Haemorrhoids, fistula.
Cypraea moneta - Palagarai
- Purified with lime juice and calcined cypera is used as antidote and first aid medicine to all type of wounds.
- Used in skin diseases like Psoriasis and eczema.
- Calcined snail is used to treat haemorrhiods, fistula and diseases pertaining to Ano-rectal region.
Antelope horn - Deer horn
- Calcined Deer horn is used to treat Cardiac disorders and Menstrual disorders.
- Usually Antelope horn sheds up in an interval of 2 -3 years.
Musk deer- Kasthuri Maan
- Musk collected from Musk deer cures cold and fever in Children. Effective in Bronchial asthma
Civet cat- Punugu Poonai
- Civet is used in aphrodisiac formulations
- Dungs of Animals along with Urine are used as Disinfectants.
- Dung cake are used traditionally to make calcination of the drugs of mineral origin.
- ‘Panchakavvya’ today needs no explanation.
I wish to conclude this presentation that this is a virgin field and abundant opportunities exists both for research and development.