An Indian American ayurveda practitioner has proposed that ayurveda practitioners should get licences to practice this ancient system of Indian health care in the US.
Lakshmi C. Mishra, director of the Ayurvedic Health Care Center in Rockville, Maryland, has proposed to Maryland's Board of Physicians to introduce an official licensing programme, according to the Indus Business Journal (IBJ).
The ayurveda system of medicine is based on the theory of balance between the body, the soul and the mind. Though it is believed that this system is as old as humanity, it was recorded down in texts between 4000 BC and 6000 BC.
He has proposed that the system should include four and a half years of education followed by a year of internship in a hospital. This is similar to the programme followed by the 200-odd ayurveda medical colleges in India.
"The home of ayurveda is India, and that's where it developed for the last thousands of years. So I'm taking that as the model," he told IBJ.
As of now, there is no law in the US which requires practitioners of ayurveda to have a licence.
Explaining that ayurvedic medicine considers the patient more important than the disease, he said that those who practice this system without proper training might end up making wrong diagnoses and prescribing wrong treatments, making the patient sicker and delaying correct treatment.
Mishra has also expressed concern over the prescription of ayurvedic drugs by people who are not formally trained. Ayurvedic drugs use animal, mineral and vegetable-based products.
Pointing out that a chiropractor in the US needs to have at least 3,000 hours of training before starting to practise and even a masseur needs 500 hours, he said there was no such law for ayurveda. The Indian programme includes 2,900 hours of education and 700 hours of lab work.
There are around 20-odd ayurveda training institutes in the US, most of which offer short-term courses.
Karen Wuff, a member of the Maryland Board of Physicians, was quoted in the report as saying that the board was aware of the issue of licensing ayurveda practitioners.
However, this was a new area and legislation could take years.
Mishra is planning to contact the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Maryland and the Maryland Insurance Administration over this issue. The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) is backing him.