Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Friends of Siddha Fifth National Conference

The fifth national conference on ‘Siddha Medicine for all Ages’ was held at the sprawling campuses of Loyola College, Chennai on December 8 and 9.

I was able to participate on the second day. I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of some of the stalwarts in the Siddha medicine field, people who contributed selflessly to spread the awareness of the age old Siddha system. The conference was organised by Dr. Joseph Thas of ‘Friends of Siddha Medicine’. An allopathic doctor himself, Dr. Thas also practices the Siddha system and is a Siddha practitioner enlisted by the Government of Tamil Nadu. He has published several research papers and participated in many national and international conferences on Indian Medicine. He is also the member of Siddha Pharmacopoeia Committee, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi.

The conference was inaugurated by Christodoss Gandhi, I.A.S in the august presence of Siddha Maruthuva Kaavalar K. Lakshmikanthan Bharathi I.A.S. Many eminent allopathy doctors chaired various sessions in which more than 100 papers were presented. One paper was about efforts towards digitising the whole Siddha literature and making it available in the net. A very commendable effort.

The souvenir released on the occasion of the conference carried various interesting articles about the development in the Siddha system. One article that impressed me very much was by Dr. Joseph Thas “Siddha Approach to Mental Health” which elaborated on the scientific approach of the Siddha sages centuries ago in treating mental diseases.

The papers presented at the sessions of conference bore testimony to the efforts going on in the Siddha community to bring the system to a firm scientific footing, with many clinical trials being conducted extensively to test the efficacy of various Siddha remedies. Scientific study of the various herbs also abound.

There is no doubt that selfless efforts of many a personality like Dr. Joseph Thas have borne fruit and the humanity at large are reaping the benefits of their toil. May their tribe increase!

Technorati Tags:, , ,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ways to Consume Siddha Herbs - II

Pittu or Puttu

The leaves and stem of the herbs are dried under shade, powdered and sieved. Milk and water of equal quantity are mixed and heated in a mud pot. (You will find utensils made of clay used extensively in preparing siddha concoctions, here mud pot is used for steam baking). Add a few drops of milk to the herbal powder to wet it before steam baking. Now steam bake the herbal powder by placing it on a cloth in the mud pot. Once baked, remove the herbal powder from the pot. Add palm candy to the baked powder. This is then taken as prescribed.

Herbs that can be baked thus are thoothuvalai, thulasi (basil), adathoda (adathoda vasica), karisalankanni, curry leaves, murungai, mudakkathan, kothumalli, pudhina, seeragam etc.

Powder (choornam)

The dried leaves and stem of herbs (after frying if necessary) are powdered and sieved. This powder is then purified in certain ways to increase its potency. One way to improve the potency is to steam bake as in the previous method but to continue heating till the water and milk evaporates completely. The powder is then dried, powdered and sieved again.

Nelli, thippili, adathoda (adathoda vasica), sirukurinjan, siriyanangai, nilaavaarai, amukkura, vendhayam, arugampul, seenthil, thoothuvalai, kandankathiri, adhimadhuram, vallarai, chukku, milagu, kadukkai skin etc can be made into choornam.

Manappagu (syrup)

Prepare a kashayam of the herb. Add palm candy as necessary to the kashayam and pour it into a mud pot. It is then heated. When you can smell the aroma remove the pot from fire. Sprinkle herbal powder on top of kashayam if needed and let it cool. Store it in a bottle. This is the herbal syrup or manappagu.

Following herbs are used in the form of syrup also. Naaval, avaarai, karpooravalli, nannaari, grapes, hibiscus, aththi, vallarai, thippili, coriander, pudhina, ginger, madhulai (pomegranate) are used in making syrup.

Note: Kashayam is prepared by boiling the mixture of crushed or powdered raw herbs with specified quantity of water, and boiled to specific concentration. The medicinal properties are preserved)


Kashayam or juice of the herbs are taken either separately or mixed together and palm candy is added to this. It is then poured into a mud pot and heated. When the kashayam gets solidified, it is stirred well and necessary herbal powders are added. Ghee and honey are added at appropriate times. Once it is reduced to a pasty form it is allowed to cool. It is then bottled and stored in a cool dry place.

Aththi, amukkara, rose, grapes, nannari, thippili, athimathuram etc are some of the herbs used in lehyams.

Technorati Tags:, , ,

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ways to Consume Siddha Herbs

Eating raw

Wash the leaves thoroughly in running water. Eat them on an empty stomach preferably. Chew them well for easy digestion. Eating leaves raw is the easiest and effective way of using herbs to our benefit.

Following herbs can be consumed raw. Curry leaves, basil leaves, coriander, lettuce, celery, betel leaves, lemon, pepper, ammaan pacharisi (Euphorbia hirta), karisilanganni (Eclipta prostrata), siriyanangai (Andrographis paniculata), thoothuvalai (Solanum trilobatum), sirukurinjan (Gymnema sylvestre), oridazh thamarai, vallarai (Indian penny wort), manathakkali (solanum nigrum), carrot, beetroot, turnip etc.


In this method the leaves and stem of the herb are pounded and filtered to extract the juice or they may be ground, pressed and filtered. The juice loses its potency over time. So the juice thus extracted is taken immediately.

The juice of the following herbs are used medicinally. Lemon, coriander, basil, adathoda (adathoda vasica), pudhina (spearmint), kalyanamurungai, plantain pith, arugampul (Bermuda grass), carrot etc.


Surasam is a Tamil word for herbal juices that are heated and taken orally.

For example, juice is extracted from ginger and heated using a mud pot. Remove it from stove when it is about to boil and allow it cool. This is an excellent remedy for indigestion.


The leaves and stem of the herbs are cooked in boiling water (either fresh or dried herbs) and the water is reduced to ¼ of its original quantity. It is then allowed to cool. The broth is filtered and the fluid is taken orally as medicine.

One simple kashayam for diabetes. Take 10-12 fresh leaves of the passion fruit climber and cut then to small pieces. Pour two glasses of water in a vessel and drop the cut leaves into it. Heat the water and allow it boil. When the water gets reduced to half a glass, remove the vessel and allow the water to cool. Filter out the leaves and drink the ensuing thick fluid. This taken for 3-5 days every morning can bring down your sugar levels drastically.

Following herbs are used to make kashayams. Rose buds, kadukkai (terminalia chebula), thippili (piper longum), cumin seeds, thoothuvalai (Solanum trilobatum), kandankathiri (Solanum Xanthocarpum), nerunjil (Tribulus terrestris), gooseberry, pepper, thumbai, arugampul (Bermuda grass), nilavembu etc.

In the next post, I will elaborate on other ways like puttu (steamed herb), choornam (powder), manapaagu (syrup) and lehyam.

Technorati Tags:, , , ,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How to use Herbs to Your Advantage

Herbs generally grow in the wild. They can be taken as food as well as medicine. If used as food they can be taken either raw or cooked. When used as medicine, they can be taken internally in the prescribed formats specific to the ailment, or used as external application as the case may be.

The following should be noted while using herbs.

1 It is best to pluck the leaves early in the morning, preferably before sunrise. For best results use the leaves as soon as possible after plucking. The leaves lose their vitality over time.

2. Pluck leaves that look fresh and luscious. Avoid worm infested ones and ripe leaves.

3. If the leaves are to be stored for further usage, keep the leaves covered with a wet piece of cloth. In case of the whole plant, keep the root immersed in water. Do not immerse the leaves in water for a long period of time.

4. It is ideal to consume the herbal preparation on empty stomach. A time gap of 1 hour would be ideal before taking any food.

5. Do not gulp down the herbal preparation in a hurry. Ideally the herbs should be masticated thoroughly. This helps in easier assimilation by the body.

6. Increase the consumption of the herb in a phased manner. For example, if it is a herbal drink and the suggested quantity is 100 ml, start with 25 ml the first day, then increase to 50 ml the next day etc until you reach 100 ml in a couple of days.

7. Herbs can be taken either raw, cooked or as powder. Consuming raw is considered ideal. Herbs can also be dried and taken in powder form called ‘choornam’ which is the next best thing. Herbs taken after being cooked may not be as effective as the other forms.

8. Herbal juices, pastes etc should be used within 2 hours of preparation. Powder (obtained after drying the herb) should be used within 3 months of preparation. Lehyam, syrup etc should be used within 6 months.

Technorati Tags:, , ,