Your Herbal Journey at the California College of Ayurveda

California College of Ayurveda is known to have the most comprehensive herbal training in the United States. CCA’s herbal training begins with a student’s very first program at the College and continues to build throughout their education. Whether you see yourself running your herbal apothecary (herbal pharmacy), prescribing custom formulations, or utilizing pre-prepared herbal formulations, CCA has a training program to meet your needs.

In this article, we hope to give you a picture of what you can expect. 

Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine:

During this first course, students are introduced to herbal terminology and come to understand the many actions of herbs. In addition, students focus on how to use spices and herbs that impact the digestive system to help restore balance to the doshas (physiological forces that impact digestion). Ayurveda recognizes that disease begins in the digestive system and that keeping the digestive system healthy is essential to preventing more serious conditions in the body. 

Clinical Ayurvedic Medicine:

During this course, students advance their knowledge and learn about the herbs that impact disease within each system of the body. Students learn about the qualities, energetics, and actions of each herb. Most importantly, students begin learning how to develop herbal formulas to address the needs of each patient.

Ayurvedic Health Counselor Internship:

During this internship, students gain experience by recommending specific spices to be added to foods that balance the digestive system. In addition, students learn to use pre-prepared formulations to balance the doshas (physiological forces) of the digestive system, optimizing both digestion and elimination. 

Clinical Ayurvedic Medicine Internship:

During this advanced internship, students begin formulating to meet the specific needs of each patient as they address the symptoms and diseases that the patient presents with. In addition, students learn to make a variety of herbal preparations including medicated oils and salves. This program is essential for students who wish to incorporate their own apothecary (herbal pharmacy) into their practice. 

Medical Ayurvedic Specialist:

During this additional 1 year of training, students advance their herbal skills, gaining additional experience formulating for their patients. Students take on the most difficult disease conditions and work closely with other healthcare professionals. Students do additional research into herbal literature. 

Ayurvedic Herbal Apprenticeship

All students have the opportunity to participate in our Ayurvedic Herbal Apprenticeship, though only a limited number of students are allowed into the apprenticeship program each year. This program is held onsite only, and students work in the garden and herbal pharmacy, as they learn to take plants from seed to medicine. This program lasts one full growing season, from March to November. Students also learn plant identification. This program gives students the most hands-on herbal education.

The Very Best Ayurvedic Herbalist

By Dr. Marc Halpern

It was 1999. I landed in Mumbai and traveled throughout India to places like Pune, Delhi, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, and Cochin.  My travels were focused on Ayurveda and my hosts took me to the best Universities to observe Ayurvedic education in action. We also visited the best Ayurvedic Doctors. I had the opportunity to observe the entire process of bringing herbs to market. I observed them growing in the wild and being picked. I observed trucks bringing them into villages and larger cities. I observed Ayurvedic Doctors selecting the best specimens for their practices.  I watched as the Doctors saw patients and then put together their herbal formulations. During some of my travels, I visited rural doctors who grew and utilized their own herbs. Some had small gardens while others had large plots of land dedicated to growing. It was a moving experience and set the foundation for cultivating the herbal training program at CCA.

The very best Ayurvedic Herbalist is the one who has the most knowledge and forms the closest relationship to the plants. Relationships develop through growing the plants, studying, and formulating. I came to learn, through experience, that plants are more than inert substances. They are energetic beings that communicate with us. Some refer to these “beings” as “plant spirits.” Indeed, practitioners cultivate relationships with herbs. They become close friends and colleagues. Just as we make friends in life, herbal practitioners make friends with the herbs and even have favorites. The best Ayurvedic Herbalist is the one with the deepest relationship with herbs.

In practice, I have often asked the plants what I should do. Yes, I talk to plants. As the relationship develops, we develop our own language and they become my teachers.  The knowledge they impart goes beyond the knowledge in textbooks. It’s difficult to put that into words. 

My journey with plants, beyond intellectual study, began when I opened my practice. I placed 50 jars of herbs on the shelves. Through sharing space with them daily, we cultivated our relationship. In various combinations, those 50 herbs could treat nearly any condition. At the end of each day, after seeing patients, I designed my formulations. My assistant and I worked together on making the medicines. 

At the California College of Ayurveda, herbal training has always been a core component of the student’s education. Whether you plan to use pre-made formulations or make your formulations, the training at the California College of Ayurveda will assure you of reaching your goals.