Ayurveda in America

Ayurvedic medicine traces its roots back nearly 5,000 years; however, it is an emerging profession in America.

Currently there is no regulation to practice this system of medicine in any of the fifty states. This creates a possible public health issue because there is no way to know if your Ayurvedic practitioner has the appropriate knowledge to guide you safely in your journey for health, or if they have the medical education required to know how to dialog with a medical professional or to know when to refer you out for serious issues. There is good news, however; the profession is pushing for self-regulation while slowly creating a standard, so that there will be a measure for appropriate licensure for the states to use as the profession matures.

Leather notebook with a sign OmSo, what should you look for in your Ayurvedic practitioner?

Look for a practitioner who is a member of NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association). This person will have met the appropriate educational requirements and have graduated from a NAMA-approved school.

Currently there are two tiers of professional designations given by NAMA:

A.H.C. (Ayurvedic Health Counselor) – This person focuses on diet and lifestyle as a means for preventative medicine and normally has between 600 to 1,000 hours of education along with supervised clinical hours. This often takes about one year of full-time study.

A.P. (Ayurvedic Practitioner) – This person, in addition to the knowledge found in the AHC, focuses on pathology and disease management and normally has between 1,500 to 2,500 hours of education in Ayurveda. This level of practitioner often has additional degrees and professional licenses that give them the scope of practice to do disease management and perform many of the Ayurvedic medical procedures legally. This is often two to four years of full-time study depending on the school.

It’s important to understand that a certification is not a regulated document. Anyone can certify anyone in anything. If you are seeing any person who says they are certified in something, please check and find out the requirements of that certification. There are many certifications that can be had on the internet overnight that sound prestigious.

There are additional emerging qualifications to look for when looking for academic excellence. Firstly, looking to see if the school that the practitioner attended has state approval or oversight. Secondly, does the school from which they graduated have accreditation by the National Council on Ayurvedic Education?

Beware of those who say they have trained in India. Be diligent to make sure that their degree is from an accredited Indian university. It is easy to buy a doctoral degree online overnight from India from a diploma mill. If a person is trained in India, they should also hold a designation from NAMA to prove their credentials or some other means to prove their professed education is valid.

herbs powder and oil in bronze cups, prepared for traditional indian ayurvedic massage
herbs powder and oil prepared for traditional  Ayurvedic massage

Something of consideration is the state of Ayurveda in India today, which is a mixture of western biomedicine and Ayurvedic philosophy. The average Ayurveda graduate in India is practicing western medicine with a mix of Ayurveda, prescribing pharmaceuticals and doing surgery. So for the purists looking for the ancient wisdom applied to its fullest extent and in its fullest capacity, this may not be what you are looking for.

For myself, with my current educational pursuits, I am attending the California College of Ayurvedic Medicine which is a state-approved educational institution; its programs are recognized by NAMA, and are accredited by the National Council.