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Monday, 3 August, 1998, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
University offers degree in ancient Indian medicine
herbs spices
Ayurvedic medicine involves a combination of herbs, dietary advice, yoga and meditation
An English university has announced the UK's first degree in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient Indian system of healing which combines yoga, meditation, herbs and dietary advice.

The four-year course will start next year and Thames Valley University says it is already attracting a great deal of interest from potential students.

Lois Crooke, head of the university's Health Studies department, said that although a lot of people were supporting the course, "there are a lot of sceptics around".

"But we are working towards helping people interested in Ayurvedic medicine to develop their knowledge base."

Yoga, herbs, diet and meditation

fruit veg
Diet plays an important part in Ayurvedic treatment
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of healing practised in south Asia for more than 3,000 years.

Inderjeet Singh, 63, says that Ayurvedic therapy cured him of the painful skin disease psoriasis, from which he had suffered for a decade.

"I have undertaken Ayurvedic treatment for more than a year and it had a very positive effect, and I have got very little disease left," he said.

Highly skilled

In recent years the system has become increasingly popular in the west, as more people seek alternatives to conventional medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners stress, however, that it is a highly skilled trade.

Gopi Warrier, from the Ayurvedic Company of Britain, said that successful Ayurvedic treatment depends on the skill of the person dispensing it.

"It comes back to the question of the education, the training and the experience."

In India an Ayurvedic therapist will have trained for at least seven years before qualifying as a practitioner.

Little regulation

There is little regulation of Ayurvedic medicine in the UK. A registered Association of Ayurvedic Practitioners does exist but membership is voluntary. The result is that some therapists can practice after just a small amount of training.

The General Medical Council has agreed to recognise medical schools that incorporate vedic principles as long as their students gain conventional qualifications as well.

Thames Valley University responded by introducing its Bachelor of Science degree in Ayurvedic therapy.

The university hopes the course will strengthen links between complementary and conventional medicines.

Graduates will not be fully-fledged Ayurvedic practitioners but will be able to enter further, more advanced courses in south Asia.

BBC News
Breaking new ground: Lois Crooke knows there will be sceptics
BBC News
Cured: Inderjeet Singh on how the treatment helped his psoriasis
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