Siddha pharmacology known as Gunapaadam deals with the detailed study of Siddha drugs. Gunam means properties of drugs, paadam means detailed study. Gunapaadam means detailed study of drugs.
Innumerable varieties of herbs, mineral and animal products find mention in Siddha literature, which are used in the preparation of medicines.
The basic concepts of siddha pharmacology can be briefed under four headings
Based on their origin, raw drugs are categorized in to the following classes:
i. Plant origin (Mooligai vaguppu)
ii. Metals and Minerals origin (Thathu vaguppu)
iii. Animal origin (Seevam vaguppu)
Raw drugs based on Plant Origin
Herbal raw drugs (Mooligai moolaporutkal) are classified further into 11 sub-divisions based on the part of the plant used in preparation of a medicine.
In certain plants, the medicinal value may be attributed to a particular part like root, leaves,bark, flowers which is used. E.g. Zingiber officinale is used for the medicinal value of its rhizhome (modified root) only.
Raw drugs based on Metals and Minerals
In Siddha system of medicine, use of metals and minerals is frequently advocated.
Siddha literature describes 220 minerals which are of medicinal value.
The metals and minerals are studied under the following four heads:
Mica, Ferri sulphas
Siddhars specialized in metallic preparations like chendooram, Parpam and chunnam, waxy preparations (mezhugu) and preparations which are resistant to heat and unbreakable (kattu).
These preparations are based on their knowledge of bringing inorganic substances in to ionic form which can be easily absorbed by the body. These drugs are ground with herbal juices and processed in fire with a calculated number of cow dung cakes. These preparations have a longer shelf life and their potency and efficacy improve with time. They do wonders in very little dosage.
Raw drugs based on Animal Origin
Raw drugs obtained from animal kingdom are also used for medicinal preparations in Siddha.For example fresh water snail (nathai parpam) is used for the treatment of piles.
II.BASIC PRINCIPLES OF SIDDHA PHARMACOLOGY
According to siddha system of Medicine, universe and human bodies are composed of primordial elements of panchabhootham which are Nilam (earth), Neer (water), Thee (fire), Vali (air) and Aagayam (space).
Gunapaadam or Siddha pharmacology is mainly based on this Panchabhootham (Five elements) and Suvai (taste).
In Siddha Pharmacology description about each raw drug or crude drug is given like the predominant element present, taste of the drug, its character, potency, bio transformation and action.
On the basis of Five Element (Panchabhootham) theory, raw/crude drugs are divided in to five major categories based on the predominant element they possess.
For example, among metals,
Here, the metal gold will exhibit characters and properties of the element earth as it is the predominant element in its formation and the other metals can be linked correspondingly.
Suvai (Taste) has got significant place in Siddha. Our tongue experiences these tastes when a drug is administered orally. The dynamics of Siddha preparations are based on taste parameters. Six tastes are known as sweet, sour, salt, pungent (spicy), bitter and astringent. Their relationship with five elements is given below:
earth + fire
water + fire
earth + air
Based on the predominant taste present raw drugs are divided into six categories, as follows:
From the above cited examples, it can be understood that Sesamum indicum will exhibit the properties of the sweet taste due to its dominance.
Gunam (Property/Character) Siddha Pharmacology describes twenty one characters of drugs like lightness, dryness etc, which are comparable to physical property of the drugs. For example, Amukkara (Withania somnifera) has the character of lightness. Each property described has specific role to play in Siddha drug formulation.
Pirvu (Bio transformation) is said to be the post absorptive taste or taste of the drug after absorption which also is considered to be an important aspect.
Veeriyam (potency) is described as active constituent of the drug. This constituent is responsible for pharmacological activity of the medicinal herb and other drugs. The drugs have cold and hot potency.
Vemmai (hot) potency neutralizes the Vaatha kuttram and kaba kuttram.
Thanmai (cold) potency neutralizes the Pitha kuttram.
Ceigai (Action) is the function of the drug which mentions the outcome effect of the drug like expectorant, tonic, diuretic etc. A drug can have more than one action.
III. PURIFICATION PROCESS (SUDDHI)
Purification of raw drugs is a process aimed at both purification as well as concentration of the raw drug. It usually involves processes like cleaning, frying, soaking and grinding with herbal juices until impurities are removed. No medicinal preparation is done without prior Suddhi process. This process helps raw material/crude drugs (moolaporutkal) to lose their undesirable or toxic effect and thereby giving better efficacy.
IV. PREPARATION OF MEDICINES
Preparation of medicines containing plant origin is based on the concept of taste. According to this concept for every taste there are compatible (friendly) tastes (Natpu Suvai) and inimical (opposed) tastes (Pagai Suvai).
For example for the taste sweet, salt and sour are compatible tastes and bitter and pungent are inimical tastes.
The Medicinal preparations belonging to the other two classes, viz., metals & minerals and that of animal origin are based on the concept of antagonistic (opposed) drugs (Sathru Sarakku) and synergistic (friendly) drug (Mithuru Sarakku). Raw drugs are mixed and ground in proper proportions on the basis of these principles and subjected to other processes as mentioned in the literature. A more detailed description of this can be found in relevant Siddha literature.
Siddha system classifies all medicinal preparations into 64 categories, of which 32 are internal medications and 32 are external medications and methods.
2. Part I ,Vol I ,First edition,The Siddha Pharmacopeia of India , 2008