Certification, Accreditation & Licensure of the Ayurvedic Profession

  1. Universal Global Recognition
  2. Definitions / Glossary of Terms
  3. Licensing of the Ayurvedic Profession
  4. Accreditation of the Ayurvedic Profession
  5. Certification of the Ayurvedic Professional
  6. Registries & Recognition Bodies
  7. Health Freedom in the USA
  8. Future & Outlook

When you’re considering a program in Ayurvedic Medicine, you’ll quickly notice all of the terminology surrounding certification, recognition and accreditation of the profession.

Terms referencing professional qualifications are important to understand in any profession, and more so in Ayurveda.  The language used by associations and schools is often intentionally vague.  A tactic used to further the agenda of any particular organization, association, or institution.  

It’s important to do your due diligence when beginning any professional program.  As terms such as “Certified by”, “Recognized by”, “Accredited by” are often used interchangeably, and incorrectly.  Sometimes due to a lack of understanding of the true definitions of each of these terms, and unfortunately, more often than not, to intentionally mislead prospective students.  

Are there any Global Recognitions of Ayurveda?

It is important to understand how Ayurveda is governed, or more accurately, not governed in order for prospective students to understand what it means to be a new student in an emerging field. 

The first thing we are often asked by prospective students is if our program is “certified” or “accredited”.  

What these prospective students really want to know, as I am sure you do, is:

Can I practice Ayurveda where I live when I graduate?

Ayurveda is not unlike any other professional qualification.  There is no universal certification that allows you to practice globally.  

Each country, state or province, county and town may have unique rules and regulations surrounding any given profession. 

For all students of Ayurveda, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your country’s Ayurvedic bodies, and if they do not exist, with any laws surrounding the practice of Alternative Medicine in your country.  

Even highly regulated professions, such as law and medicine, do not award universal diplomas.  Upon graduation from law school, you are by definition, a lawyer.  You still must, however, must pass the Bar exam, and become licensed in your state in order to formally practice law.  

If you, with your law degree, ace the bar and are licensed in California and decide to move to neighboring Nevada, you are not eligible to practice law in Nevada, without first meeting the requirements set by your new state.  The requirements may be the same, or they may be slightly different.  The responsibility lies with you to determine what is required in your state. 

If you move from California to Mexico or Canada – you would also be required to register and do your due diligence with that country’s governing bodies.  You may be required to meet additional requirements to make sure you are practicing legally there as well.  

In any profession, it is up to the individual practitioner to be sure you are 100% in compliance with your country, state and local laws and familiarize yourself with the local authorities, associations, organizations. 

Definitions & Glossary of Terms

Let’s discuss the difference between Registries, Certifications, Accreditations, and Licensing and what that means when applied to Ayurveda in the United States of America.

Let’s break down the details, step by step.

First, let’s take a look at the most common terms, and what they mean.

Registered is a listing of individuals who meet a set of requirements and experience level and have completed their training at a registered school.  These programs typically pay to be listed on a website (or other registry) and pay yearly dues. These are voluntary.  

eg. International Yoga Alliance

Recognized programs are individuals or organizations who meet a standardized set of requirements.  These are not certifications.  These are voluntary.  

eg. National Ayurvedic Medical Association

 

Certifications are credentials for individuals and organizations that seek to prove their proficiency in certain specializations.  These are typically issued through a school or university certification program or through a certification body.  These are voluntary.

eg. National Ayurvedic Medical Association Certification Board

 

Accreditations are recognitions for organizations or programs (not individuals) from non-governmental, third-party agencies.  These demonstrate that the organization or program have met predetermined standards.  These are voluntary.

eg. International Association of Yoga Therapists

 

Licensure is a formal recognition by a regulation agency that an individual or an organization is proficient in a skill to practice it in an area, often a state.  Licensure is typically run by the state in which the individual or organization is going to be practicing in and will vary from state to state. These are typically mandatory at the state level. 

eg. There is currently no state or national requirement for licensure of the Ayurvedic profession

Licensure Bodies in the USA

Licensure is the process whereby a governmental unit (national, state or local) grants an individual permission to pursue an occupation or carry out a business subject to governmental regulation. Those who practice without a license or whose conduct violates a jurisdiction’s licensing law may risk punishment, though many U.S. states now tacitly allow unlicensed healthcare practitioners—such as homeopaths and Ayurvedic professionals—to practice. In some states, there are “health freedom laws” that give legal status to unlicensed professionals, provided they comply with the provisions of the law.

There is currently no licensing for individuals who practice Ayurveda in the USA.  Schools may choose to apply with their state Department of Education for licensing as an institution of higher learning.

Accreditation Bodies in the USA

If an organization is accredited this means they conducted a thorough self-assessment and compared themselves to recognized standards of best practice. Accreditation means that the organization, or program was able to demonstrate evidence of implementation to all of the relevant standards. It is a rigorous process conducted by a third party organization.

The process is voluntary; however regulating bodies often require accreditation in order to be licensed or certified. The accreditation process typically repeats every 2-4 years, depending on the accrediting body. Normally, individuals or private practices are not able to become accredited; however, some exceptions may exist.  

There is currently no Accreditation available of Ayurvedic Medicine in the USA. 

Certification Bodies in the USA

Certifications are typically credentials that you seek to prove your proficiency in any certain specialty.  In the case of Ayurveda, certification is typically awarded by your school.  

Your school is responsible for making sure that their program is up to date with the current recommended standard.  This recommended standard is typically set by the school itself, and will align with the recommendations of various bodies of recognition. 

The National Ayurvedic Medical Association Certification Board (NAMACB)

To further its mission, NAMA established the NAMA Certification Board (NAMACB) in 2017 to:  Develop and revise as needed standards, policies, and procedures for certifying Ayurvedic professionals • Process and review certification applications; and • Oversee the administration of certification exams and • Issue the certification credential. The members of the NAMACB are appointed by the NAMA board of directors. While the NAMACB is housed within NAMA, it has autonomy in decision-making for all essential certification policies, procedures and activities.

Currently, the NAMA Certification Board certifies the following two categories of Ayurvedic professionals:

• Ayurvedic Health Counselor

• Ayurvedic Practitioner

NAMACB certification is voluntary and means that a candidate has demonstrated the entry-level competencies for her/his category of practice by completing a NAMA-approved course of study and passing a rigorous certification exam, and is engaged in ongoing self development as a professional through continuing education and other activities.

Registries in the USA

Registries are typically online databases of which a school or member pays to join, and pay a yearly fee thereafter to maintain their registration.

Some schools may choose to register with none, one, or all of these recognition bodies.  There is typically an application + annual fee associated with membership.  Recognition is always a voluntary process for the schools and professionals who choose to register with any recognition body.

A school that has voluntarily opted to seek additional recognition for their program by an outside entity is declaring that their program meets the criteria of that specific organization. 

These recognitions are not mandatory for schools.  Smaller schools will typically seek recognition, while larger, more established schools may forgo this process and rely often on their internal certification requirements. 

A good example of this is the Sivananda School of Yoga, one of the largest, most recognized schools of Yoga in the world, is not recognized by any outside organization.  A certification from that school holds its own weight and recognition.  A smaller, newer school may choose to seek outside recognition, as a means of social proof or credibility that it would not otherwise be able to attain on its own merits.  

National Association of Ayurvedic Schools & Colleges (NAASC)

The mission of the National Association of Ayurvedic Schools and Colleges (NAASC) is to bring Ayurvedic professional educational schools together for the purpose of expanding Ayurvedic education in the United States in order to improve the health and well-being of society.

www.ayurvedanaasc.org

Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA)

The vision of the Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America (AAPNA) is to bring the healing science of Ayurveda and its modalities to the forefront of integrative medicine in the West. AAPNA strives to: Build bridges of knowledge across all health professions to incorporate the healing approaches and modalities of Ayurveda into mainstream health care • Bring together all Ayurvedic and integrative health professionals to offer each other support, academic discussions, professional development, and friendship. • Strengthen the awareness of Ayurveda as a healing science, thereby contributing to bringing the wisdom and knowledge of Ayurveda to everyone.

www.aapna.org

International Yoga Alliance (YA)

The YA Membership Registry is for both schools and graduates who have paid a fee and met a certain set of requirements set forth by the International Yoga Alliance.  Individuals who wish to join must have completed a program that is “recognized by Yoga Alliance”. Schools submit an application detailing their curriculum and are required to pay a yearly membership fee. 

www.yogaalliance.org

National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA)

Founded in 1998, The National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) is a national organization representing the Ayurvedic profession in the United States of America. NAMA’s mission is to preserve, protect, improve and promote the philosophy, knowledge, science and practice of Ayurveda for the benefit of humanity. More information on NAMA can be found at: www.ayurvedanama.org

Health Freedom in the USA

Health freedom is a concept based on the belief that medicine, as it is practiced in the United States, is a narrowly defined modality and that individuals have the right to seek other forms of health care that may not fall within the definitions and scope of conventional medicine. 

A brief history of the progression of Health Freedom in the USA.

In 1847, the American Medical Association was formed.   This important stepping stone started the beginning of strict oversight of the practice of medicine in the USA.  Because medicine was the first profession that required licensing, states began to outline strict rules & regulations.  Anyone who did not adhere to these standards could be charged for practicing medicine without a license. 

As each state established their own laws governing medicine in their respective states, other healing professions such as naturopathy, homeopathy, and herbalism came under increased scrutiny, and, in some cases, were shut down completely.

Many of the laws are still evolving, and each state has a unique set of laws surrounding health freedom.  

Most alternative health care practitioners are unaware of the legal ramifications of practicing their chosen profession. Practicing medicine without a license is a misdemeanor; in some states, it is a felony. This still holds true in the 40 states in the USA that do not currently have health freedom legislation.

If you live in a health freedom state, you have much more latitude and can practice without the threat of a criminal charge. Ayurvedic professionals who live in a state without health freedom must continue to practice with great caution and follow the current laws in your state.

For more information on health freedom legislation in the United States, visit the National Health Freedom Coalition: www.nationalhealthfreedom.org. If you reside in a state without health freedom, consider getting involved with passing a health freedom law in your state.

Health freedom legislation was created to open the doors for more healing professionals to practice openly without the threat of being prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license.  

Current health freedom laws provide the following limitation and requirement to practice:

  1. Ensure that the practitioner does not perform any actions that pose an imminent risk of harm to a consumer by clearly stating what the practitioner cannot do.
  2. Require the practitioner to disclose certain information about him/herself.

Although initial health freedom legislation began in 1976, it did not take root until 1999, after which several states enacted legislation every few years. 

Until now, state-by-state licensing of health care professions was the only legal and respected process. Fortunately, the healthcare climate is changing and health freedom laws are providing additional opportunities to practice legally.

The Future & Outlook

of accreditation & licensing of the Ayurvedic profession in the USA

In the United States, institutions and programs that provide post-secondary education operate with a considerable degree of independence and autonomy. As a consequence, the character and quality of American post-secondary educational institutions and programs can vary widely.

To ensure a basic level of quality, there are accreditation bodies in the process of formation that arose as a means of conducting nongovernmental, peer evaluation of these institutions and programs.

The National Ayurvedic Medical Accreditation Council 

The primary mission of the National Ayurvedic Medical Accreditation Council is to accredit schools and programs of Ayurveda offering Ayurveda Health Counselor (AHC), Ayurveda Practitioner (AP), and Ayurvedic Doctor (AD) education. A secondary mission is to continuously improve Ayurvedic education in collaboration with stakeholders of Ayurvedic medicine to ensure the quality, integrity, and refinement of its accredited educational programs.

www.ayurvedicaccreditation.org

Status Listed as “Application Coming Soon”