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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 82-85

Anchoring ayurveda in European health system: Barriers and opportunities

European Academy of Ayurveda, Rosenberg Society for Holistic Health and Education non for profit, pvt. ltd., Forsthausstrasse 6,63633 Birstein (Germany),Tel +49 (0) 6054-9131-11,Fax -36, Germany

Date of Submission13-Apr-2023
Date of Acceptance17-Apr-2023
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Mark Rosenberg
Rosenberg Society for Holistic Health and Education gGmbH, Rosenberg Society for Holistic Health and Education, European Academy of Ayurveda, Birstein
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_89_23

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How to cite this article:
Rosenberg M. Anchoring ayurveda in European health system: Barriers and opportunities. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;7, Suppl S1:82-5

How to cite this URL:
Rosenberg M. Anchoring ayurveda in European health system: Barriers and opportunities. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 8];7, Suppl S1:82-5. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/7/5/82/374514

  Introduction Top

European people and doctors appreciate natural treatment, yet Ayurveda is not commonly recognized as a Medical Act. Indian Ayurveda practitioners seeking to practice in Europe face significant legal hurdles. Ayurveda may fill a void in the European health system with its comprehensive, patient-centered approach. Thus, European patients’ quest for effective natural therapy, quality health professional training, and safe Ayurvedic drugs may drive Ayurveda.

Ayurveda appears to have garnered tremendous appreciation in the recent years, specifically attributed to the support given by the Government of India, which is trying to elevate India into a global wellness and Ayurveda Hub. The results of the initiatives taken up are seen globally, especially with the setting up of WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in India. I have heard that the Prime minister of India, in his public interaction platform “Mann Ki Baat”, has highlighted the growing interest in Ayurveda and Indian medicine around the world and has recommended the citizens to adopt Ayurveda and Yoga as a way of life.

Ayurveda is becoming more popular in German-speaking Europe and is widely known for its wellness and health-prevention benefits, but increasingly, also as a comprehensive holistic system of medicine that uses indigenous and effective therapeutic methods to help patients, especially those with chronic ailments. Ayurveda is now regarded as an evidence-based science in medical circles. Doctors in Italy, the UK, and Germany can study Ayurvedic medicine in postgraduate medical programs accredited by medical authorities and institutions. I encounter this daily as the director of an Ayurveda Academy health and treatment center with over 1,000 patients per year. I expect that experience sharing with Ayurveda practice and therapy will facilitate the growth of Ayurveda and also improve its global recognition and visibility..

Germany’s traditional European medicine and modern medicine are now coming together socially, academically, and scientifically. This is a tremendous scope to improve strategies to alleviate human and environmental suffering through effective integration strategies. Instead of blending the different systems of medicine and practice randomly, it would be apt to evolve strategies focusing on the merits and limitations of each type of system to cater to the benefit of the patient in a patient centred care platform.

  European law regarding Ayurveda practice Top

As of today, Ayurveda is not yet recognized as a European medical system, despite its merits. Europe is still wary about combining traditional and contemporary medicine.

The CAMbrella project, a European research network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), divided European countries’ acknowledgement status into three groups:

  • i. Countries that allow only official “Medical Acts” in therapy. Ayurveda cannot be officially performed without recognition.

  • ii. Free therapy nationsDoctors can use non-conventional therapies in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands. Physicians can use CAM, including Ayurveda.

  • iii. Countries with CAM-integrated healthcare

Only Switzerland (non-EU) officially recognizes CAM as part of healthcare.

Even in nations where physicians can legally practice Ayurveda, therapies are frequently not covered by government health systems and must be paid for by individuals or private insurance, which can be considered as a limitation that prevents wider use among the common man.

EU-wide, CAM is under pressure, owing to lack of clarity regarding the active ingredients and difficulties in ascertaining the efficacy, especiallyHomeopathy.

But Ayurveda has specific advantages owing to the visible and measurable effects of its interventions, which include manual, phytopharmacological, and nutritional..

The Allensbach demographic institute has reported that almost 70% of Germans think naturopathic treatments are good supplemental therapies and 20% of the respondents wanted alternative or traditional medicine only for treatment.[1] This applies to most European countries. Hence, the EU Parliaments’ response to patients’ request for alternative treatment is long overdue.

It has also been reported that, 63% of German doctors treat their patients with natural medicine. About 13% of German physicians have alternative healing qualifications, according to 2021 Federal Medical Association data.[2] Over 50% of cancer patients have reported to have used complementary medicine. Patients and doctors believe that ancient systems, like Ayurveda, may treat many diseases, especially chronic and psychosomatic ones.[3]

  Patients drive European Ayurveda Top

Focusing on patients’ preference and needs, helpspread Ayurveda worldwide. Thus, the crucial question is, where do patients benefit from supplementary medicine?

The crux of the issues faced by the patients is that they face health systems that prioritize medical technology and allopathic pharmaceuticals, while they really crave doctors’ and therapists’ attention and desire to know how their illnesses started. As director of an Ayurveda competence center, I can attest to the gratitude of our patients, who have found relief and often cure for chronic and psychosomatic illnesses that modern medicine could not treat.

The major advantage of Ayurveda is that, it fills a vacuum in healthcare systems by meeting patient expectations, especially when they suffer from chronic ailments like neurological, stress-related, diabetic, musculoskeletal, etc.

Benefits of Ayurveda:

  • Rational (Yukti-vyapasraya), psychological (Sattvavajaya), and spiritual (Daiva-vyapasraya) therapies.

  • Patient involvement through self-reliant, health-promoting behavior, food, and lifestyle (Ahara, Vihara)

  • Fast results with thorough Panchakarma therapy.

  • Clinical practice of Ayurveda has grown in the Europe and clinival projects have also been initiated, recognizing the potential of Ayurveda as a supplemental medicinal therapy.

    To integrate with Western medicine, Ayurveda should be practiced and presented as a holistic system of medicine. The Habichtswald Hospital (https://www.ayurveda-klinik.de/), the Bad Ems Maharishi Clinic (https://ayurveda-badems.com/), the Rosenberg Health and Treatment Centre in Germany (https://www.rosenberg-ayurveda.de/), and also many Indian hospitals that attract Western patients use this approach. The success of these model institutions show that patients are willing to pay for Ayurveda treatments (10-20,000 patients per year). The wide array of interventions that range from medicinal, dietary lifestyle and behavioural interventions that cater to the whole human being rather than symptom/disease based therapy, makes Ayurveda distinctly unique.

    Many Western patients prefer Ayurveda over modern medicine because it is holistic. Their wish for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle may result in spreading Ayurveda globally.

      Ayurveda in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges Top

    Europe has several seminars and training programs for Ayurvedic medicine, therapy, nutrition, and treatment to meet the demand of Ayurveda enthusiasts.

    Thousands of graduates from leading European teaching institutions like Ayurvedic Point School (Italy) (https://www.ayurvedicpoint.it/), Rosenberg European Academy of Ayurveda (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) (https://ayurveda-akademie.org/en/), and Delight-Ayurveda-Institute (Netherlands) https://delightacademy.com/) now make a full-time livelihood from their fulfilling work with Ayurveda as health and nutrition advisors. Approximately 70% are self-employed and 30% are employed.

    Since Ayurveda therapy is not yet fully recognized as a profession, graduates should develop their career slowly, but they have a good chance of successfully offering their skills to patients.

    Vaidyas with BAMS degrees or Ayurvedic specialists with MDs cannot practice medicine in Europe. In Switzerland and Germany, they can do so after becoming a “Heilpraktiker” (natural medicine practitioner). Language abilities are important because the German state-regulated Heilpraktiker exam is only in German.

    Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Portugal have regulations in place for massage, nutrition, herbal medicine and Ayurveda therapists. They vary by countries and control Ayurveda graduates who want to work in paramedicine, open centers, or officially practice under medical supervision.

    In other European nations, Ayurvedic experts from India can only operate in wellness and healthcare centres, and cannot diagnose or prescribe, limiting the scope for wider acceptance and practice of authentic Ayurveda.

    Despite the challenges, the EU needs more Ayurvedic doctors. India could help relocate Vaidyas by selecting and advising competent doctors. When a critical mass of several hundred EU Ayurveda doctors is attained, bilateral government talks on their state-regulated authorization will have a high probability of starting or reaching a significant size.

      Ayurveda Education for Success Top

    Basic, undogmatic education can help establish Ayurveda in other nations. Moreover, it is important to adapt to modern language and medical science. As Director of the European Academy of Ayurveda in Birstein, Germany, I know this is achievable without compromising educational complexity.

    The Academy offers the only Master of Science degree in Ayurveda and models a curriculum that incorporates western physicians’ experience and interests without diminishing traditional teaching. Over the past 12 years, hundreds of doctors and physicians have enrolled in our 4-year (3,200-hour) course, which we provide with Middlesex University, London.

    These strategies may help assure high-quality Ayurveda training courses:

  • To develop and worldwide synchronized curricula content, learning objectives, and competences for different credentials and levels of education.

  • To develop multiple-choice and standardized exam questions.

  • To introduce overseas students to preferred Ayurveda texts.

  • To assess Ayurveda teachers who want to teach overseas in current didactics and language.

  • The establishment of a chair for Ayurveda, the inclusion of elective courses for physicians and therapists, and research projects at European academies and universities are currently possible and would matter in the long run

    Innovation in state-regulated institutions is difficult. As with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda risks being limited to a few essential features to fit Western medicine’s tight corset.

    I have come to appreciate a non-governmental, independent teaching and research organization with a hospital that can completely consider Ayurveda’s intricacy.

    As a non-scientist, I think more research is needed. One of my dreams is to establish a non-profit organization where leading Ayurveda personalities and institutions from India and abroad can globally coordinate research projects.

      Trusting quality and safety Top

    Ayurveda’s success as a medicine depends on its quality and safety.. For EU legalization, European GMP Good Manufacturing Practice, excellence in clinical treatment, and high-quality education, research, and literature must be examined.

    The pharmaceutical industry should strive for stability and anchoring. My advice is:

  • Use EU routes available. Two parallel methods can be used to introduce Ayurvedic medicines to Europe:
    • ○ To test the registration of Ayurvedic products under THMPD (Traditional Herbal Medical Products Directions) or other EMA standards in a pilot study to set a precedent with EU authorities.

    • ○ To supply Ayurvedic herbs and simple combination preparations as dietary supplements in the EU.

  • Accurate laboratory tests for Quality Control and Quality Assurance for Ayurveda medicines/products

  • Herb documentation/Drug Dossier/Product profile

  • Quality seal

  • Identify and support European exporters and startups agency and create avenues for the same.

  • To conclude, three criteria are crucial to globalizing Ayurveda by using a bottom-up approach:

    • i. Effective patient care

    • ii. Good Ayurveda education

    • iii. Quality AssuredAyurvedic herbs and treatment.

    Finally, every growth demands active, professional communication and teamwork. We have taken some strides for practice and promotion of Ayurveda here. Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have Professional Ayurveda organizations, in addition to EU groups. ADAVED (Ayurveda Umbrella Association Germany) was added two years ago and will strengthen the movement.

    The launch of the first Global WHO Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar (Gujarat) is all the more welcome in this context. This is another sign of the global AYUSH movement.

    Financial support and sponsorship


    Conflicts of interest

    There are no conflicts of interest.

      References Top

    Allensbacher Archive, IfD survey 10056, June 2010. https://www.ifd-allensbach.de/fileadmin/studien/7528_Naturheilmittel_2010.pdf. [Last accessed on 17 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 1
    Bundesärztekammer (Berlin): Ärztestatistik 2021. Available from: https://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/fileadmin/user_upload/BAEK/Ueber_uns/Statistik/Statistik_2021/2021_Statistik.pdf. [Last accessed on 18 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 2
    Berger DP, Obrist R, Obrecht JP: Tumorpatient und Paramedizin: versuch einer charakterisierung von anwendern unkonventioneller therapieverfahren in der onkologie.. DMW-Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 1989; 114(09): 323–30.  Back to cited text no. 3


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