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Careers: Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic Medicine depictionOne of the world's oldest healing systems, Ayurveda defines life as the joining of body, mind and spirit in divine consciousness. The word translates to the Sanskrit ayuh, meaning life, and veda, meaning knowledge. Grounded in a holistic understanding of human health, Ayurveda seeks to maintain health by balancing body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurvedic practitioners believe health and healing can be found through daily living practices and, when needed, the application of gentle healing modalities. While many modern medical disciplines focus on pathological changes in specific organ systems, Ayurveda treats each individual as a whole person.

Imbalances in various elements can lead to disease. Ayurveda seeks to maintain a balance to prevent disease. Likewise, gentle remedies that restore balance allow the body to heal from illness. Such remedies include nutrition, breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, massage, and medicinal herbs.


Ayurvedic healing derives from the ancient sages and scriptures of India known as the Vedas (bodies of knowledge). Thought to be more than 5,000 years old, the Vedas focus on a variety of topics including spirituality, art, astrology, health, government and military. There are four main books of knowledge: the Rig [Rik], Yajur, Atharva and Sama Vedas. Ayurveda is believed to be a secondary Veda to the Rigveda, which was written about 3,000 BCE.

By 1500 BCE, Ayurveda had grown into a respected and widely used system often referred to as the "mother of all healing." Ancient healers such as the Persian physician Avicenna and the European Renaissance physician Paracelsus traveled to India to study Ayurveda. During the years of British rule in India, Ayurvedic medicine was rejected by many in favor of the western medical practices. Nevertheless, traditional Ayurvedic practitioners preserved their knowledge, passing it from generation to generation.

Today, newfound awareness of traditional healing has revived Ayurveda's popularity. In India, Ayurveda is again commonly used in both maintaining health and treating illness. In the U.S., recognition of the complex interplay of body, mind and spirit has enhanced receptivity to holistic systems such as Ayurveda.


The Integrative Therapeutic Practices program at MSU Denver offers an introductory class on Ayurveda (ITP 3400 as of the 2019-2020 academic year). 

Two nationwide Ayurveda organizations, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and the Association of Ayurvedic Professional of North America (AAPNA) have established educational standards for various levels of practice, recognize particular schools as providing training at those levels, and certify graduates of those training programs. The International Association of Yoga Therapists likewise has standards, approved schools, and certifications for yoga therapists. 

Local, NAMA-approved options for education in the field of Ayurveda include:

Licensure & Average Income

Ayurveda is not a licensed healthcare practice in the United States. Several states, including Colorado, have Health Freedom laws that regulate complementary and alternative health modalities, including Ayurveda. A growing number of individuals have created successful private practices as Certified Ayurvedic Practitioners.

Author Information

Adrienne Arnold is a major in the Integrative Therapeutic Practices Program at MSU Denver.

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