Dr. Marc Halpern (Dr. Shiva), President: California College of Ayurveda, in an e-mail interview to Ninu Susan Abraham, Editorial Co-ordinator, Ayurveda & Health tourism Magazine, reveals his interest in Ayurveda, the most ancient medical practice originated in India, the treatment of cancer in Ayurveda and his activities to promote Ayurveda in the US
Excerpts from the interview:
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your current position?
Creating a successful College of Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States is my biggest accomplishment. Most recently, the college’s Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine program was approved by the State of California and accredited by the National Council on Ayurvedic Medicine. This is the first of its kind program in the United States.
Who has been the greatest inspiration in your life?
I am inspired by personally by my father whose heart was very big. He had a beautiful capacity to love. Professionally, I have been inspired by Dr. Subhash Ranade and Dr. David Frawley, both of whom supported me in establishing the college. Spiritually, I am inspired by Swami Sivananda, the great teacher from Rishikesh who was both a Medical Doctor and a spiritual master.
Where do you see yourself in Ayurveda, in the next five years?
Over the next few years, I will complete my textbooks on Ayurvedic Medicine and the College’s Doctor of Ayurveda program will be fully established. This will then allow me to explore more opportunities around the World.
Tell us about your tryst with Ayurveda? When and how did this love affair happen?
My journey, since I was 13 years old was to understand the cause of disease and suffering. This journey first led me to study Chiropractic Medicine but I did not find what I was looking for here. I continued my post graduate studies in other forms of holistic medicine including Chinese Medicine, Homeopathy and Ayurvedic Medicine. It was in Ayurvedic Medicine that I found what I was looking for. A clear, complete and well-articulated system that truly understood why we suffer on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and how to address each of these levels of dis-ease. Once I came to learn Ayurveda and I knew that I’d be devoting the rest of my life to this knowledge.
In addition to my professional journey, I was crippled with Lyme Disease in 1987 and that took me on a personal journey to heal myself. That journey led me to many places but it was through Ayurveda and Yoga that I was able to restore my balance, rebuild my immune system and completely heal from this devastating disease.
Since this is a cancer special issue, tell us about the philosophy behind the treatment of cancer in Ayurveda?
We take a five-part approach to managing cancer patients at our center.
- Support the patient to establish a harmonious lifestyle that is appropriate to their prakruti and vikruti and which reverses the nidana of the condition.
- Follow a diet that is not only harmonious to their nature but also one that is very high in vegetables and low in processed foods and sugar.
- Utilize herbs that have shown in laboratory studies to be beneficial in fighting cancer. Some of the herbs are cytotoxic, some have immune modulating actions and some help to restore natural apoptotic processes working in a manner similar to molecular medicines. The specific medicine as well as the mode of administration depends upon the type of cancer as well as the dhatu and srotas involved.
- Patients who are strong enough are brought through Pancharkarma in order to eliminate ama as well as excess dosha.
- We utilize the practice of Yoga Nidra to stimulate the patients innate ability to heal themselves.
How is diagnosis of cancer done in Ayurveda?
We diagnose the prakruti and vikruti of the patient. We utilize Western methodologies to understand the type of cancer and its stage. Patients who come to our center have already been diagnosed and we review the findings.
Do you do Ayurvedic treatments at your institute or is it just restricted to academics?
Our College has a clinic which provides treatments to the community. We have a pharmacy with more than 250 herbal raw ingredients. We make 90% of the medicines for our patients at our pharmacy as we mix together individual formulations for each patient. We also have a panchakarma center on campus with overnight facilities.
How do you convince people in the West that this system is as good or even better than Allopathy?
We do on-going community outreach and public education. We hold introductory classes for the community and educate them about the principles of Ayurvedic Medicine. Many people are not happy with the mechanical nature of Western Medicine and are ready to take greater responsibility for the healing of their own bodies.
Which do you think is the most common Ayurvedic treatment that people opt for?
The most common treatment is not a spa therapy. It is a detailed consultation and on-going follow up visits as we support patients to implement Ayurveda into their lives. These visits include support changing their diet, daily routines and adjusting how they utilize their senses.
Is there any rationale behind integrating Ayurveda and western medicine?
Of course,. Each system has strengths and weaknesses. Western medicine excels in emergency medicine. Ayurveda excels in the management of sub-acute and chronic disease. For many disease, Ayurveda can be the only medicine. When Western Medicines are needed, Ayurveda still plays an important role in maximizing the potential of the body to heal through diet and lifestyle.
Any plans to promote Ayurveda globally? If so, how?
My focus has been in the United States. Perhaps in 5 or more years, my work will shift but at this time my dharma keeps me here.
What are the legal regulations that you face for teaching Ayurveda in California?
We work within the guidelines of the Bureau of Private Post-Secondary Education and under the umbrella of the Health Freedom Act. So long as we comply, we do not have any challenges. There are some limits to what we can do. Education does not include Western Medical Diagnosis and treatments do not include surgery.
Which are the other well-known institutions/hospitals of Ayurveda in the USA?
There are several established institutions of Ayurveda in the United States. Along with the California College of Ayurveda, other institutions include: The Ayurvedic Institute, Kerala Academy of Ayurveda and the Mount Madonna School of Ayurveda.
Moving ahead, what are your future plans for Ayurveda, your institute and personally for yourself?
I am very excited about continuing the development of the Ayurvedic profession in the United States, I plan to continue my work with the National Council on Ayurvedic Education as we establish National Board testing and formalize the accreditation of Ayurvedic schools and colleges. The college plans to continue to improve its education programs and eventually offer post -graduate specialty training certifications in areas such as oncology, dermatology and so on. Personally, I hope to spend more time in ashrams in sadhana and continue my service to the Yoga community as well as the Ayurveda community.
About Dr. Halpern
Dr. Marc Halpern is the founder and President of the California College of Ayurveda, the oldest school of Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States. A leader in the development of Ayurvedic Medicine in the United States, he is the co-founder of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, the National Council on Ayurvedic Education and the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. He has written three textbooks on the principles and clinical practices Ayurvedic Medicine used at colleges across the United States.
Marc Halpern received his Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine in 1987 and his post-graduate certification in Holistic Medicine in 1991. In 1991 he began his studies of Ayurveda with Dr. David Frawley and went on to continue his studies Dr. Subhash Ranade. He has received awards for his service to Ayurveda in both the United States and India including the Best Ayurvedic Physician Award presented by the Hakim Ajmal Khan Society and the Indian Minister of Health and Welfare. He also received the Dhanvantari Award for Excellence in Ayurvedic Practice and the Caraka Award for Excellence in Ayurvedic Teaching by the American Association of Ayurvedic Professionals of North America.
Dr. Marc Halpern (Dr. Shiva) is President: California College of Ayurveda. President: National Council on Ayurvedic Medicine.
Author: Healing Your Life; Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda.
Author: Recording; Yoga Nidra and Self Healing
Founding Director: National Ayurvedic Medical Association
Founding Director: California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine
Editorial Board: Alternative Therapies Journal
Advisory Board: Journal of Research and Education in Indian Medicine (India) and Advisory Board: Ayurveda Journal of Health (USA)
Board of Directors: The HeartWay ~Embracing Life, Honoring Death~
Facebook (Personal):: facebook.com/Ayurvedadoc
Facebook (College): facebook.com/AyurvedaTraining/