There are two ancient system of medicine in India. One is Siddha and another one is Ayurveda.
I. What is Siddha Medicine?
The word Siddha (or siddhars) comes from the word Siddhi which means an object to attain perfection.There were 18 important siddhars(Rushi) in olden days and they developed this system of medicine. Hence, it is called Siddha Medicine.These Siddha's individuals often are portrayed as having received their knowledge of the Siddha system indirectly from the deity Shiva. Siddhars contributed not only to a system of medicine but also to the knowledge of eternity(prolong life), alchemy, and Yogic living.
Basic Principles of Siddha medicine
Siddha science considers nature and man as essentially one. Nature is man and man is nature. Man is said to be the microcosm and Universe is the macrocosm because what exists in the world exists in man. According to the Siddha system, the Universe originally consisted of atoms which contributed to the five basic elements, in nature: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, all of which form the original basis of all corporeal things. It is believed that there is an intimate connection between the macrocosm of the external world and the microcosm of the corporeal being. In the human body, The element of earth is present in the bone, flesh, nerves, skin, and hair, The element of water is present in bile, blood, semen, glandular secretions, and sweat, The element of fire is present in hunger, thirst, sleep, beauty, and indolence, The element of air is present in contraction, expansion, and motion, The element of ether(or sky) is present in the interstices of the stomach, heart, neck, and head.[source: http://www.britannica.com]
According to the Siddha theories , all diseases are caused by the discordant mixture of vata, pitta, and kapha(representing air, fire, and water) proportions in the body govern a person's physical and mental disposition. The elements form the connecting link between the microcosm (the human) and the macrocosm (the world). Thus, the external air corresponds to the internal vata, the external heat corresponds to the internal pitta, and the external water corresponds to the internal kapha. Under normal circumstances, according to Siddha theory, vata occupies regions related to the pelvis and the rectum, pitta occupies regions related to the stomach and the viscera, and kapha occupies regions related to breath, the throat, and the head.
Siddhars believed vata to be self-originated and identical to divine energy. Imbalance of vata could be the root cause of all disease. Pitta was believed to represent all the characteristics of fire, such as burning, boiling, heating, and similar sensations. It was the name given to the heat contained in the liquid bile, which causes the expulsion of waste matter in the form of urine and feces, and it was believed to give sight to the eyes, beauty to the skin, and cheerfulness to the mind. Kapha was believed to supply moisture to the body and to give stability, adding to the strength of the body by increasing the firmness of the limbs and thereby keeping them in harmony with one another. It was also thought to aid in digestion and sensation, such as by imparting taste to the tongue.[source: http://www.britannica.com]
The presence and proportion of these humours within the system is indicated by the pulse, which is vital to correct diagnosis.
1.In Siddha medicine, breathing is considered to be the most important of all functions, providing vitality and freedom from disease. Controlled breathing is the method of charging oneself with vitality and personal magnetism; in Yogic terms this is known as pranayama.
2.Varma is an area of practice in Siddha medicine that is concerned with varmam. The varmam are points of intersection of bone, muscle, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. The ancient siddhars believed that disease emerged when these points were adversely affected by an external force. A manipulative technique used in Siddha medicine to restore health at the varmam is known as ilakku murai. There are believed to be 108 varmam, according to Siddha tradition.
3.The siddhars did extensive research on plants and devised methods by which plants could be harnessed medicinally. They also described the poisonous nature of some plants and the antidotes for them and classified plants based on the way they affected the body.
Unlike Ayurveda, which is another traditional system of Indian medicine, but which gives topmost priority to herbal treatment, Siddha medicine gives importance to the conjunctive use of plants and minerals. For simple ailments, the Siddha practitioner advises the initial use of herbs. If this does not prove effective, the judicious use of plants, minerals, and animal products is advised.[source: http://www.britannica.com]
According to Siddha theory, preparations made of mercury alone were believed to invest the body with immunity from decay, enabling it to conquer disease. Mercury and sulfur were considered to be supreme curatives. Those minerals, however, are extremely toxic to the human body.
II. What is Ayurveda Medicine ?
The last time you got a cold, you probably didn't think of your phlegm as a divine force. Nor is it likely you've contemplated the spiritual significance of your bile. But in Ayurvedic medicine -- an ancient practice that originated in India 5,000 years ago -- having balance among these bodily fluids in your system is essential to good health.
According to Ayurveda, each person is born with a unique composition of the three doshas -- vata, pitta and kapha -- that determine our physical and psychological makeup like whether we are fat or skinny, slow or quick moving, easy going or anxious. It also determines what type of diet, exercise and treatment we need to prevent illness.
Those who are predominantly vata tend to be thin, quick thinking and prone to constant change. When in balance, vatas are lively, creative people. But when they become unbalanced, they are prone to anxiety, insomnia and indigestion. Aggravation of vata weakens the nervous system. Other symptoms caused by excess of vata in the body are joint pains, constipation, dry skin, loss of memory, palpitation, insomnia, stiffness of muscles, weight loss, loss of strength, migraine, vertigo, tremors, grief and fear etc.
People who are mostly pitta tend to be muscular, intense and ambitious. In balance, they are friendly, smart and strong leaders. Out of balance, they can be critical, irritable and aggressive.Some of the symptoms caused by excess of Pitta in the body are hyperacidity , skin diseases, burning sensation, fever, infections, ulcers, liver disorders, malfunction of sense organs, fatigue, loss of taste and sleep disturbances.
Kaphas tend to have heavy frames and calm natures. In balance, they are sweet, loyal and the vision of serenity. But out of balance, they are prone to weight gain, congestion and resistance to change.other symptoms caused by excess Kapha in the body are asthma, cold, congestion in the chest, anorexia and obesity.
In India, viewing the body through this energetic prism has been part of the culture for centuries, as well as in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and China. In the U.S., the rise of Ayurveda is a recent phenomenon, one of a growing list of New Age treatments like acupuncture, massage, yoga, chiropractic, meditation and herbal medicine gaining a foothold in mainstream medicine.