As part of promoting and developing the traditional Siddha treatment system worldwide, especially among the Tamil diaspora, the Chennai-based Centre for Traditional Medicines and Research (CTMR) has made scores of proposals to the Sri Lankan government on Siddha system of treatment as part of implementing various health projects in the northern Tamil Province of the island nation.
The Minister for Health for Northern Province, Dr. P. Sathyalingam had recently invited the director of CTMR Dr. T. Thirunarayanan to Sri Lanka to explain in detail the proposals he made to the Lankan government to strengthen the system there. The proposal sought support from the Indian government as well as the state government of Tamil Nadu. In the meeting, he discussed with various health officials, medical officers and hospital authorities who are following the traditional system of treatment there.
While sharing details about his visit to Sri Lanka, Dr Thirunarayanan said manufacture and supply of traditional drugs, especially Siddha medicines, is always a difficult problem there, and there occurs a long gap in the supply system. The quantum of medicines manufactured is very less and often inadequate to cater to the needs of the patients.
In a proposal to develop production and marketing of Siddha drugs, CTMR has suggested that maintenance of quality standard is of prime importance, and for that there should be a testing methodology which should be followed in the analytical process. A well equipped laboratory is essential to address issues like adulteration, misbranding, spurious, not-of-standard quality, etc. Besides, government should ensure availability of good raw materials.
To increase the availability of Siddha medicine in the island country, Dr. Thirunarayanan made a major suggestion that a government owned manufacturing unit with state-of-the-art facilities should be set up. The facilities should be in compliance with WHO-GMP standards. For the availability of raw drugs including herbs, medicinal plants, the government was advised to encourage founding herbal gardens at schools, colleges, homes, public parks, etc and planting of medicinal saplings as much as possible everywhere involving NGOs.
Further, he suggested to digitize the palm leaf manuscripts of Siddha available with traditional healers there and also with the libraries. CTMR will give training in the digitization of palm leaves. He said the government of Sri Lanka can approach the ministry of Ayush in India through ministry of external affairs for financial assistance to train the graduates in Siddha and to conduct continuous medical education programmes and skill development schemes.
For strengthening the potential and skill of traditional medicine practitioners in Sri Lanka, he said the Siddha practitioners in the Northern Province have to undergone specialized training in various treatment methods of Siddha like Varmam, Thokkanam, Kayakalpam, Balar maruthuvam, skin diseases, non-communicable diseases and mental health.
Source : Pharmabiz
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Scientific evidence to prove the physical and chemical nature of the medicinal formulations is essential to develop and preserve the traditional medicines, especially Siddha drugs.
The evidences will provide proper scientific validation and significance to the fundamental principles of Siddha with special emphasise on the preparations like sindhooram, choornam, parpams (powder forms) etc, according to Dr. I G. Shibi, research officer at the department of chemistry, SN College at Chempazhanthi, Thiruvananthapuram.
Dr Shibi was presenting a paper on the subject ‘physico-chemical understanding of mineral based Siddha medicine’ at the Siddha physicians seminar at the Kerala capital organised by Central Council of Research in Siddha.
She said the material medica of Siddha system of medicine largely depends on drugs which are of metal and mineral origin and includes 11 types of metals, 25 varieties of salts, 64 numbers of mercurial, arsenical and sulphur compounds, and 120 kinds of minerals. So a scientific study of the Siddha formulations will be able to provide the scientific validations.
“The traditional system of sindhooram preparations involves grinding and calcinations of the materials several times. The various temperatures at which different stages of decompositions take place are never monitored scientifically in the traditional method. The chemical nature of the products formed at each stage of thermal decomposition is never understood in the traditional method. The effect of various gaseous atmospheres in the chemical changes occurring during the treatment and thermal decompositions of the materials is important,” she said while presenting the paper.
Further, the materials at different stages of preparations of a medicine are to be characterised by thermal, spectroscopic, diffraction, electron micrographic studies etc. Many features like surface area, porosity, pH point of zero charge, density, particle size etc are to be understood by proper methods.
According to her, the phyto-chemicals present in the plants used in the preparations of Siddha formulations are of interest to find new leads for treating different diseases. This chemical and therapeutic diversity of these compounds are widely viewed as a source of templates for structure optimisation programs designed to make new leads. Genuine attempts to link and apply modern branches of knowledge such as computer aided drug design, cheminformatics, artificial intelligence etc for rational drug development is imperative. Modern insilico methods are needed to ascertain the therapeutic effect and also to evaluate the druggability of these phytochemicals.
The experts of Siddha system of treatment in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu have commented that more effective programmes and policies are required to foster this traditional system of treatment in the state, especially in the southern districts, else the system will vanish from the field before long.
Though some government support is there, the concerned authorities are not taking much interest to chalk out and implement various programs by coordinating the stakeholders from one end to another. Village wise awareness programme on the use of Siddha medicines and free medical camps are the primary things to be implemented to promote and develop the system. The District Siddha Medical Officers (DSMOs) should sincerely act up on this and conduct village level promotional programmes, they opined.
“The acceptance of Siddha medicine is large among all kinds of people, especially those in the village areas. If we do not implement some sort of awareness program, free medical camps etc., very few people will come forward to accept and follow Siddha system. Nowadays, people are more interested to follow modern system. So the government agencies that are responsible to support and encourage this method should not withdraw from their duties and focus on fostering it,” said Dr Ganapthi Raman, retired director of Central Research Institute of Siddha.
While talking to Pharmabiz from Madurai, he said even in the temple city of Madurai, which is a prominent location in the national tourism map in southern Tamil Nadu, there are only two dispensaries of Siddha. No full-fledged hospital for Siddha is working there. In both the dispensaries, an average of more than 200 patients visit every day for treatment.
Dr Raman said there is no shortage of medicines anywhere in the state, but people do not know all medicines are available in each Siddha dispensary and they are effective for curing all diseases. He said awareness on the efficacy of Siddha medicines and their availability in the nearby clinics has to be shared with the rural people. Programmes should also be chalked out to attract them to the hospitals and avail the medication.
Dr Joseph Thas, a retired Siddha professor from Thirunelveli, said there is slow improvement in Siddha system in the southern part of the state. According to him, the graduates of Siddha have to be motivated to stick on practising Siddha system. He said several Siddha graduates are not interested to practice the system after the completion of their course as the chances of job opportunities and income are getting less every day. So, the government should give some kind of incentives to all the practising Siddha graduates in the state and encourage them to continue practising it for long.
Dr Thas, who retired from Palayamkottai Siddh Medical College, opined that along with awareness programs and medical camps, Continuing Medical Education programs must also be conducted for the graduates and post graduates with the support of government and department of Ayush. Likewise, the services of the graduates should be recognized and honoured. He said there are a lot of NGOs working for Siddha system and such organisations should initiate this kind of activity. Dr Joseph Thas is the president of an NGO, Friends of Siddha, centred in Thirunelveli.