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Siddha system of medicine is one of the oldest traditional systems of medicine, which hasbeen originated from India and is practiced mostly in the southern part of this country for treating various diseases including even chronic conditions. However, it is relatively veiled to the scientific community as compared to other traditional systems such as Ayurveda (a popular Indian medicine), TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and Kampo (traditional Japanese medicine). Respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are a serious health problem, which are increasing rapidly worldwide.

The current therapy has its own shortcomings and notable adverse effects. There is an intense need to search some safer alternative therapy for treating these epidemic diseases. The objectives of this article is, first, to increase the awareness about Siddha Systems of Medicine to the scientific community, thus inviting more scientific studies on this system, and secondly, to list certain medicinal plants of this system which are commonly used for treating respiratory diseases.

Archeological excavations in Mohenjadaro, Harappa in the Sindh plains found inscriptions relating to medicinal uses of Neem, deer horn, pearl, etc were found. These products are extensively used in Siddha system of medicine. This goes on to say about the rich tradition of Siddha system.

This system was popularized eons ago by the famed 18 Siddhars (18 Saintly people who by their meditation and ascetic practices attained mystical powers). These Siddhars or Siddhas are found to have lived between 1000 BC and 500 AD. They had their own teams and traveled from villages to villages curing people for free from their physical ailments.

The 18 Siddhars are

Thiruvarutchitthar Agathiyar
Thirumoolar Siddhar
Kalangi Siddhar
Bogar Siddhar
Pulippani Siddhar
Sattamuni Siddhar
Macchamuni Siddhar
Ramadheva Siddhar
Kamalamuni Siddhar
Sivavaakiyar Siddhar
Karuvoorar Siddhar
Edaikaadar Siddhar
Sundharanadhar Siddhar
Azhukanni Siddhar
Paambatti Siddhar
Therayar Siddhar
Konganar Siddhar
Korakkar Siddhar

All these Siddhars or Siddhas were Saivaite Tamils who have authored wonderful books on various aspects of Siddha system of medicine.