The National Ayurvedic Medical Association (www.ayurveda-nama.org) plans to change that. "Our goal is to bring Ayurveda into the mainstream. We are deep into the process of setting national standards for Ayurvedic education, and working toward a licensure process," said Hilary Garivaltis, the organization's president.
Ms. Garivaltis, a practitioner herself, and dean of Kripalu School of Ayurveda, said existing schools reflect a range of Ayurvedic traditions and approaches. Programs vary considerably in depth and duration. Most grant trainees some sort of certification, but to date there is no uniform curriculum or nationally recognized qualification to practice Ayurveda.
MDs, nurses and other licensable practitioners who learn Ayurveda can simply fold it into their existing practices without any medicolegal or regulatory risk. Lay practitioners and non-licensed practitioners from traditional Indian communities represent something of a regulatory grey area.
States with health freedom laws provide some latitude for non-licensed Ayurvedic practitioners; those without such laws are generally less hospitable.
But Ms. Garivaltis said that as long as an Ayurvedic consultant is not claiming to be practicing medicine, he or she may legally offer consultation services. "You have to be careful that clients have a clear understanding of what you do and do not do. We don't claim to practice medicine, we're teaching people healthy life principles."
She and other Ayurvedic practitioners stress that they do not see Ayurveda as a substitute for allopathic medicine or as a competitor.
"As long as we stay within our own diagnostic paradigm, we're okay. I tell someone that I'm not going to diagnose or treat their "diabetes," I'm going to diagnose their doshic imbalances according to the Ayurvedic paradigm. My protocols are going to be specific to doshic imbalances, not Western disease classifications. We believe that the "disease" manifestation is a reflection of imbalances that I'm able to help correct."