Scientific evidence to prove physical and chemical nature of Siddha drugs essential: Study

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai Friday, May 30, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

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.