Beginning in the Fall 2014 semester, the Health and Physiology department celebrated the opening of the new Integrative Wellness Center, offering Maharishi Ayurveda wellness consultations to students, faculty and staff. The center is run independently by Dr. Jim Davis, an Osteopathic physician, and was created to provide practicum internship opportunities for the Physiology and Health students, as well as offer free or low-cost health services to the university community.
Appointments are structured so that during each consultation a student intern takes the lead discussing the client’s health concerns and past history, then takes the client’s pulse. From the subtle variations in the pulse the intern can detect health imbalances in the body. Dr. Davis oversees the appointment, and he is assisted by Vaidya Dinesh Gyawali, an ayurvedic physician from Nepal. Together with the student intern, they work as a team to prescribe changes in diet, daily routine, herbs, aroma therapy, whatever is required. Appointments usually take 45 minutes to one hour.
“This is a major accomplishment for our department to be able to provide students this level of practice.” said Dr. Liis Mattik, program director of the BS in Health and Physiology and teacher of the pulse diagnosis courses. “I am very happy with the students’ proficiency with pulse diagnosis,” she continued. “During their coursework they learn three levels: surface, sub-dosha and the deep level. I am very happy with how they are able to feel specific qualities from specific locations and derive conclusions from it.”
Students can take up to four months of practicum internship at the clinic. Each month they also write up case studies about different conditions and how they can be treated. The clinic provides the students with a foundation so they can open their own practices as Maharishi Ayurveda Health consultants after they graduate, or they can continue their health education by attending medical, naturopathic, or chiropractic school, or a wide range of other opportunities.
Peter Chojnowski, a Physiology and Health sophomore, describes his experience. “It was good. I got some useful suggestions. I didn’t go because I had any major complaints. They gave me recommendations to pacify my pitta. That wasn’t something I was complaining about. They recommended herbs and spices that I can put on my food.” Pitta is an ayurvedic term referring to the amount of heat in the body. The balancing of heat/cool, dry/wet and more, are fundamental to ayurveda. Restoring and maintaining balance is the key to good health.
Both Dr. Davis and Vaidya Gyawali are experienced ayurvedic physicians. Dr. Davis has been incorporating ayurvedic wisdom into his practice for 25 years now. And Vaidya Gyawali has worked as an ayurvedic doctor in Nepal for many years. Nepal is the only nation in the world that recognizes ayurveda as its national medical system, equal to modern medicine. Vaidya Gyawali would see up to 50 patients a day working for an ayurvedic hospital. He also gained fame in the ayurvedic world when he published a paper describing how to incorporate the Chinese herb Cordyceps into the ayurvedic tradition.
Currently Vaidya Gyawali is a PhD student in Physiology and Health at MUM, working with a renowned cardiologist on the effect of ayurvedic medicines on cardiovascular health. “There are so many wonderful results from our study,” said Vaidya Gyawali. “Some of the herbs are really very potent. It could be very ground-breaking research when it is finished.”
When Vaidya Gyawali is not working on his research, he is happy to be involved with the clinic. “The interns are wonderful and surprisingly good,” he said. “They received a lot of knowledge from their courses for their Maharishi Ayurveda Wellness Consultant degree. And they are very enthusiastic to learn more and more.”
Tara Villavicencio, a senior from San Francisco, felt lucky that the clinic opened just before she was scheduled to graduate in December. “I like the clinic. It brings together all the knowledge of all the previous courses, and puts it altogether into one complete wholeness. To be able to work with people and hear their problems and concerns, and talk things over with Dr. Davis and Vaidya Gyawali, I am really happy that I’m able to participate.” After graduating, Tara plans to gain a degree in occupational therapy, so she can work with autistic children in schools.
Yancy Morgan and David Aranda, both majoring in the Maharishi Ayurveda Wellness Consultant degree track are also enthusiastic about their experience at the clinic, “Taking the pulse is a learned skill,” said David, “and as we gain the opportunity to practice it, we understand what we are feeling more.” “Yes,” agreed Yancy. “And the clinic provides that opportunity.”
“The student interns are very knowledgable,” said Dr. Davis. “And I’ve been very impressed with their ability to engage the patients and make meaningful contributions to their health and wellness. This is a great beginning towards the ultimate goal of fulfilling Maharishi’s desire of having a Consciousness-Based Medical school here at MUM.”
For more information about the Maharishi Ayurveda Wellness Consultant track of the Physiology and Health department, please see https://www.mum.edu/physiology-and-health/