Honorable Delegates and Senators
Chair and Members of the Health and Environmental Issues Committee:
I am a friend and supporter of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and I am in favor of the recognition and appropriate regulation of Ayurvedic medicine in this country. Ayurveda is an important holistic, integrative and complementary health care discipline that benefits untold Americans on a daily basis. We have recently become aware that efforts are underway to legislate Ayurveda in the state of Maryland and we would like you to consider our position on this matter.
The National Ayurvedic Medical Association represents the Ayurvedic profession in the U.S. and has been actively doing so for more than six years [501,c,6]. NAMA is the strongest Association in the country representing Ayurvedic practitioners, researchers and educators trained in the United States. The NAMA Advisory Board includes highly distinguished members of the profession: Dr. Deepak Chopra MD, Dr. David Frawley OMD, Dr. Robert Svoboda BAMS, Dr. Vasant Lad MASc. The NAMA Board of Directors includes highly credentialed and experienced individuals in the areas of Ayurvedic medicine, research and education: Shekhar Annambhotla, BAMS, MD (Ayu); Aparna Bapat, BAMS; Kumar Batra, PhD; Saraswati Buhrman, PhD; William Celentano, DO; Cynthia Copple; Vishnu Dass; John Douillard, DC, PhD; Light Miller; Jennifer Rioux PhD; Vivek Shanbag, BAMS, MD Ayu, ND; Wynn Werner, of the Ayurvedic Institute.
When Ayurveda becomes regulated it must be carefully considered to include the diversity of individuals, methods and public benefit, not just Ayurvedic Physicians trained in India.. Ayurvedic knowledge and Ayurvedic practice have found a home in the United States and many professionals, organizations, educational institutions and companies depend on the proper legislation of Ayurvedic practice to protect their investment of time, money and effort in developing the profession as a legitimate American endeavor, not a replication of the current Indian system. Please look to The National Ayurvedic Medical Association for information and expert opinion in formulating any legislation that impacts Ayurvedic professionals.
Ayurvedic medicine was introduced to the United States approximately 25 years ago and although Ayurveda originated in India as a form of traditional medicine, it has undergone many permutations in modern times. When India was colonized by the British, this traditional system was largely integrated with Allopathic medicine and moved away from its original grassroots emphasis on natural therapeutics. With its more recent importation to the West, Ayurveda has gone back to its roots. With a healthy and thriving Allopathic community in the United States, Ayurveda offers an opportunity for integration with conventional Western health care paradigms as it emphasizes non-invasive diagnostics and holistic treatments, including herbalism, nutritional counseling, lifestyle modification and self-care practices. Ayurveda is being practiced safely in the United States. American practitioners’ use of herbs and Ayurvedic medicines is almost exclusively from domestic distributors who follow FDA guidelines for dietary supplements. NAMA and the Ayurvedic community work with existing herbal associations like the AHPA (American Herbal Products Association http://ahpa.org/ ) and AHG (American Herbalists Guild http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/ ), who work closely with the FDA.
The practice of Ayurveda in the USA focuses on education of the patient to increase personal responsibility for healthy habits and stress reduction. This emphasis on preventive health care and natural therapeutic modalities, working alongside contemporary doctors and treatment plans, has the potential to reduce health care costs substantially, increasing Americans’ quality of life and decreasing the burden on society for those who become ill due to preventable conditions. There have been few, if any, reports of adverse effects from Ayurvedic treatments dispensed by trained practitioners who meet the educational criteria and standards developed by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.
In the United States, there are close to 30 registered educational institutions teaching varied Ayurvedic curricula, from personal enrichment programs for laypeople to increase their knowledge of self-care, to programs that currently meet the 500 hr. NAMA standards for practitioners and those that offer PhD degrees with a stronger research emphasis. The National Ayurvedic Medical Association has established minimum practitioner standards and they are being adhered to by the major schools of Ayurveda in the United States. These standards have also been adopted by the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.
Ayurvedic care in the United States is dispensed and accessed by a wide and diverse population and its economic impact has grown considerably over the past 20 years. Ayurveda is now a well-known complementary medicine modality and some of its treatments have been incorporated by the Spa Industry which generates millions of dollars of revenue each year. Many more millions in revenue are generated by Ayurvedic education, integrated healthcare practice and consulting. In the United States, the practice of Ayurveda is being offered by a variety of qualified practitioners, some of whom are licensed in other disciplines or have degrees not offered in the U.S. The National Ayurvedic Medical Association is developing a tiered structure of Ayurvedic professionals with continually increasing levels of education coupled with expanding scopes of practice. This structure will be aimed at including, rather than excluding, the largest number of qualified individuals. This document is currently being authored by NAMA and will be submitted for approval by various governing authorities within a year’s time.
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