Conference 2024 Highlights

By Rupa Raj, CAP and Parija Patel, CAP

From March 15th to 17th, 2024, Ayurvedic doctors, practitioners, researchers, and enthusiasts gathered to explore ancient wisdom and modern applications at the annual Ayurvedic Conference hosted by the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM). Hosted with enthusiasm and reverence for Ayurveda, the conference served as a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue, sharing groundbreaking research, and fostering connections among experts from around the globe.

Honoring Our Hosts: Opening Session with Dr. K. Srikar Reddy and Dr. Romesh Japra

The conference commenced with an invocation by Manju Kolli, with our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. K. Srikar Reddy and Dr. Romesh Japra for their instrumental support. Dr. Reddy and Dr. Japra’s dedication to promoting Ayurveda was acknowledged, with attendees expressing appreciation for them commencing the conference.

Dr. Ish Primary Schools: Unlocking Wellness: Introducing Ayurveda in Primary Schools – Impacting Future Generations – Dr. Ish Sharma, MD 

Dr. Ish Sharma emphasized the importance of introducing Ayurveda in primary schools to positively impact future generations. If we can “Catch them Young,” we can change the trajectory of their lives and our collective future. Dr. Sharma stressed the significance of targeting the age group of 6-12, noting that the habits developed during this age are the habits that will “die hard.” Sharma advocated for healthy eating practices, humorously remarking, “Leave dinner for the enemies,” and highlighted the relevance of autophagy, stating, “Professor Ohsumi’s groundbreaking work showcased the body’s innate ability to eliminate negative entities.” Overall, his presentation made a compelling case for integrating Ayurvedic teachings into primary education for a healthier future.

Healing Eye Disorders Using Ayurvedic Wisdom – Dr. Vedhas Kolhatkar, MD (Ayu)

Dr. Vedhas Kolhatkar provided comprehensive insights into Ayurvedic strategies for maintaining optimal eye health and offered many treatments and solutions for most common eye problems and injuries. With a focus on combating the adverse effects of prolonged screen time, Dr. Kolhatkar recommended a gentle eye wash infused with triphala, known for their soothing properties. Additionally, he highlighted the therapeutic potential of ghee, a staple in Ayurvedic medicine, in nourishing and protecting the eyes from environmental stressors. By integrating these Ayurvedic remedies into daily eye care routines, individuals can proactively support and preserve their ocular health for the long term

From Bench to Bedside & Back: A Deeper Understanding of Majja – Dr. Rammohan Rao, PhD, CAP, RYT

Dr. Rammohan Rao’s presentation delved into Ayurveda’s connections with neuroscience, focusing on the Majja Dhatu, or the nervous system.

He shared fascinating insights, revealing that neurons originate from bones and emphasizing the brain’s reliance on fats for function. Dr. Rao highlighted the collaboration between adipose tissue and bone marrow in brain health.

Furthermore, he discussed the skin-brain connection, noting how external oil application induces relaxation. Dr. Rao advocated using nasal and oral cavities to influence the brain, as they serve as ancient gateways to sensory organs.

Lastly, he underscored the gut-brain connection, emphasizing the importance of dietary practices for overall brain health.

Yapya: Ayurvedic Insights into Navigating Incurability in Clinical Practice – Kashyap Jared Fisher (Ayurvedic Physician): Kashyap Jared Fisher

In his enlightening presentation, Kashyap Jared Fisher shared profound Ayurvedic perspectives on managing incurable conditions.

Fisher emphasized the significance of addressing patients with Ojas imbalances. He recounted compelling anecdotes, including the story of a patient struggling with sleep, highlighting the importance of sleep as one of life’s three essential pillars.

Moreover, Fisher reflected on the limitations of treatment, stressing the need to acknowledge instances where interventions may be ineffective.

Throughout his session, Fisher offered invaluable insights into compassionate and holistic patient care, navigating the complexities of clinical practice with wisdom and empathy.

Unlocking Longevity: The Essence of Rasayana Therapy for Healthy Aging – Dr. VL Shyam, BAMS, MD (Ayu), MPhil (Business Mgmt.)

Dr. VL Shyam shared profound insights into Rasayana therapy, focusing on its role in promoting healthy aging.

He emphasized the dynamic nature of health and disease, highlighting how Doshas await triggers for imbalance. Dr. Shyam also discussed the vital role of Dhatus, comparing it to a sponge that absorbs nutrients crucial for the body’s well-being.

Moreover, he underscored the importance of Ojas, the body’s true strength, and advocated for the inclusion of Rasayana foods like Haritaki, Amalaki, Honey, Cold Water, Milk, and Ghee in daily life. Additionally, he pointed out Amalaki’s role in supporting telomerase activity, essential for cellular health.

Overall, Dr. Shyam’s talk offered valuable insights into Rasayana therapy, encouraging attendees to embrace it for enhanced vitality and longevity.

Ayur-Yoga Combinations for Health and Diseases: Koshtha-Shakha Gati for Pranayama – Dr. Dilip Gadgil, BAMS, MD (Ayu), MPhil (Sanskrit)

Dr. Dilip Gadgil delved into the synergies between Ayurveda and Yoga, offering insights into their combined benefits for health and well-being.

He introduced Ayur-Yoga combinations, highlighting the transformative power of consistent practice. Dr. Gadgil emphasized dedicating substantial time to practice, suggesting a regimen of 3 hours a day for a minimum of 2 years to achieve profound concentration.

Furthermore, Dr. Gadgil discussed specialized breathwork techniques, emphasizing their therapeutic effects on the mind and body. In essence, Dr. Gadgil’s presentation underscored the holistic approach of Ayur-Yoga, encouraging attendees to integrate these practices into their daily lives so they can bring doshas hidden in the shakha into the koshta so that it is easy to remove from the body.

Nurturing Life from Conscious Conception to Birth in Ayurveda – Dr. Sarita Shrestha, MD (Ayu, Gynecology and Obstetrics)

Dr. Sarita Shrestha emphasized the importance of pre-conception cleansing in Ayurveda, likening it to “dyeing a clean cloth.” She introduced Panchakarma as a vital detoxification process before conception. Attendees learned about Ayurvedic practices for menstrual and ovulatory health, essential for hormonal balance (Rajaswala Charya and Ritumati Charya). Dr. Shrestha discussed Pumsavana Karma for gender selection, showcasing Ayurveda’s understanding of physiology.

She highlighted the impact of thoughts during conception on the baby’s development and discussed signs of successful conception (Sadhyo Gruhita Garbha Lakshanas). We also learned about women’s intuitive connection with conception and the benefits of lotus seeds during pregnancy. The embryo communicates with the endometrial lining tissue before implantation and discussed signs of successful conception (Sadhyo Gruhita Garbha Lakshanas). Dr. Shrestha’s teachings provided a holistic understanding of Ayurvedic principles in preparing for parenthood, empowering individuals on their journey to conceive and nurture life.

Harmony in Healthcare: Integrating Ayurveda and Western Medicine through Evidence-Based Research – Dr. Tanuja Nesari, MD (Ayu), PhD – Online

Dr. Tanuja Nesari delivered a compelling discourse on the critical role of evidence-based research in bridging the gap between Ayurveda and modern healthcare. Recognizing the growing interest in integrative medicine, Dr. Nesari underscored the significance of Ayur-Visa accreditation as a hallmark of authenticity and quality in Ayurvedic treatments. By advocating for evidence-based practices and accreditation, attendees were empowered to embrace Ayurveda as a credible and valuable complement to conventional medical approaches, thus promoting synergy and collaboration across diverse healthcare modalities.

Comprehensive Approach to Diabetes Management: Ayurvedic Insights and Preventative Protocols – Dr. Gopa Kumar, MD (Ayu), PhD – Online

Dr. Gopa Kumar emphasized holistic diabetes management through Ayurvedic principles, focusing on addressing underlying imbalances. He recommended remedies like Garlic Milk (contraindicated in hyperacidity), medicated Buttermilk, Gruel, Triphala, Ragi, Amla Juice, Turmeric Powder and Bitter Gourd juice for managing blood sugar levels. Dr. Kumar highlighted the importance of sleep (5-6 hours minimum) and balanced diet, exercise, and stress management in preventing diabetes. He introduced the concept “Bitter to Better” for personal health improvement and cautioned against indiscriminate use of shilajit, except in Kapha type of diabetes. Dr. Kumar’s approach provided practical Ayurvedic tools and preventive strategies for managing diabetes and improving overall health.

Globalizing Ayurveda in the 22nd Century: A Unique Perspective: The Confluence of Wisdom and Contemporary Biology – Dr. Madan Thangavelu, PhD

Dr. Madan Thangavelu explored the fusion of quantum physics, epigenetics, and Ayurveda, advocating for Ayurveda’s globalization in the 22nd century. He stressed Ayurveda’s holistic perspective, stating “To know the nature of [human], one must know the nature of all things.” Attendees learned about the transformative power of yoga and pranayama in re-engineering the human system and the limitations of models in understanding complex systems. He emphasized Ayurveda and yoga’s ability to deconstruct and reconstruct the human experience, likening it to transforming a hamburger back into a filet.  Dr. Thangavelu discussed the limitations of models in understanding complex systems, noting that while all models are flawed, some are still useful in guiding our understanding of reality. Dr. Thangavelu’s talk provided attendees with a thought-provoking exploration of Ayurveda’s potential in the modern world, encouraging them to embrace its timeless wisdom while adapting to the challenges and opportunities of the 22nd century.

Navigating Life’s Battlefield: Vedanta, Trauma, and Ayurvedic Counseling Insights – Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, BAMS, MD (Ayu) 

Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar delved into the modern-day struggles individuals face, highlighting alarming statistics such as the daily suicide rate among veterans and the prevalence of suicidal ideation. In the fast-paced modern world, Dr. Kshirsagar underscored the detrimental effects of unresolved stress from various sources like career pressures, relationship dynamics, and financial stressors

Drawing from ancient wisdom, Dr. Kshirsagar outlined the four great goals of life: Duty, Prosperity, Desire, and Liberation, as depicted in the Bhagavad Gita. He highlighted the therapeutic journey depicted in the text, from despair to inner peace. Dr. Kshirsagar highlighted the transformative power of meditation, noting its positive effects on sleep, eating habits, and relationships. He discussed therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and hypnosis, emphasizing their motivational and perceptual aspects. Dr. Kshirsagar concluded with the importance of attention, appreciation, affection, and acceptance, emphasizing their impact on mental and physical health.

Conscious Longevity – Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP

Dr. John Douillard discussed Ayurveda’s holistic approach to longevity, emphasizing the intricate connection between the human body, consciousness, and spiritual perceptions. He highlighted Ayurvedic insights into DNA health and spiritual evolution, stressing the importance of nurturing both physical and spiritual well-being for optimal longevity. Attendees gained valuable insights into holistic practices aimed at promoting conscious longevity, encouraging a balanced approach to health that honors the mind-body-spirit connection.

Ayurvedic Insights on Osteoarthritis: A Holistic Approach to Management – Vaidya Anupama Kizhakkeveettil, BAMS, LAc, CMT, PhD

Dr. Anupama Kizhakkeveettil discussed Osteoarthritis (OA), noting its significant impact on women and its widespread prevalence, affecting 67 million Americans annually with a burden of $136.8 billion. She highlighted growing interest in alternative therapies like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine. Dr. Kizhakkeveettil introduced the “4 Ps” approach: Predict, Prevent, Participate, and Personalize, emphasizing personalized treatment based on OA stage and Doshas involved. Attendees learned Ayurvedic strategies, including dietary changes and specific yoga poses like Pawanmuktasana 1. Her insights provided practical tools for OA management, empowering proactive steps toward holistic treatment.

Upgrading Ayurveda for the 21st Century: New Treatment Protocols with Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum, DC, CAP – Online

Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum discussed the evolution of Ayurveda in the West, noting its introduction by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1970s and subsequent popularity in the 1990s. She highlighted Maharishi’s role in adapting Ayurvedic texts for Western understanding and shared insights gained from her internship with him in 1998.Key points included Maharishi’s teachings on pulse reading, which revealed four types of toxins—Cold, Hot, Slow, and Vibrational—and methods for their detection and removal.Dr. Teitelbaum’s presentation emphasized the ongoing refinement of Ayurvedic practices for modern contexts, offering practitioners innovative treatment protocols.

Discussion on Herbs, Laws and Quality Care So the Patient and Practitioner are Protected – Gary Grewal, Vaidya Jaygopal Parla, Prashanti de Jager

The herb discussion began with the profound statement, “Who you are matters for the life of the herbs,” emphasizing the importance of intention in herbal medicine. Vaidya Parla stressed, “Herb is your intention,” highlighting the practitioner’s mindset in herbal therapy. Attendees were urged to verify official distributors for authenticity.

Prashanti De Jager emphasized the direct connection from spirit to plant, underlining the role of intention and energy in herbal healing. Attendees were reminded of the ancient wisdom held within plants, which are 1700 times older than humans. They were encouraged to perceive plants as living beings, deserving of respect and reverence.

We were also reminded of the importance of ensuring that herbal manufacturers have product liability insurance,  for accountability and quality control.

An Unusual Dialogue – The Golden Phase of the Feminine: Menopause – Dr. Ashlesha Raut, BAMS, MD (Ayurveda) and Dr. Sarita Shrestha, MD (Ayu, Gynecology and Obstetrics)

Dr. Raut and Dr. Shrestha emphasized menopause as a transition into a new life phase, deriving its beauty from the Sanskrit term “Rajo” meaning “Rajas” and “Vrutti” meaning “Retirement.” They encouraged attendees to embrace menopause as an opportunity for personal growth, focusing on the positive aspects of Vata.

The concept of Swabhava, inherited genetic makeup, was introduced, urging attendees to honor their innate nature during this transition. The DEAR approach to menopause management was presented, advocating for holistic self-care practices including Detox, Exercise, Attitude adjustment, and Rest.

 Pancha Karma and Chronic Diseases – Dr. John Douillard, Dr. Vedhas Kolhatkar, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar

Dr. John Douillard, Dr. Vedhas Kolhatkar, and Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar discussed the efficacy of Panchakarma (PK) for chronic diseases, highlighting its success in treating conditions like Osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. They stressed its role in addressing long COVID symptoms and emphasized the need for adherence to local regulations regarding certain PK procedures and massage therapy licensing.

Ayurveda & Yoga: Dealing with the Challenges of the Digital Age – Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) – Online

Dr. David Frawley shared insights on coping with the digital age using Ayurveda and yoga. He warned of the mind’s addictive nature and the risks of overstimulation, leading to conditions like depression.

Attendees were advised to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, emphasizing the mind’s need for space and natural surroundings. Dr. Frawley stressed embracing nature’s Satvic qualities for mental clarity.

The discussion provided practical strategies for managing technology’s impact on mental health, promoting a return to nature and Satvic living through Ayurveda and yoga.

A Dialogue & Collaborative Exchange on Research between Medical Oncology & Ayurveda – Dr. Jeffery D. White and Dr. Dilip Gadgil

Dr. Jeffery D. White and Dr. Dilip Gadgil discussed the fusion of Western functional medicine and Ayurvedic research in cancer treatment, bridging evidence-based science with ancient wisdom. They highlighted study findings on breast and rectal cancer, emphasizing the role of diet and lifestyle changes in treatment. The dialogue advocated for collaborative approaches in oncology, aiming to enhance holistic healing and drive innovation in cancer care.

Clinical Challenges Solutions and Contraindications for Mental Health – Vaidya Jayarajan Kodikannath, BSc., BAMS, AD

Vaidya Jayarajan Kodikannath emphasized the interconnectedness of health and disease, advocating for practices like meditation, breathing exercises, and proper sleep for health while cautioning against stress and irregular sleep as precursors to illness. He discussed the impact of toxins on vital energy (Ojas) and introduced the concept of mental Ama, recommending Rasayana therapies like Brahmi and Kalyanaka Ghritam for mental well-being. Attendees gained practical insights into managing mental health through Ayurvedic principles, empowering them to cultivate holistic well-being and resilience.

Artavavaha Srotas: Research and Clinical Approach – Dr. Rucha Kelkar, BAMS, PT, DPT

Dr. Rucha Kelkar explored the alignment between lunar and menstrual cycles, stressing their profound connection. She explained how lunar phases affect the body’s water content, correlating them with menstrual phases. Dr. Kelkar discussed the psychological effects, noting the introspective New Moon’s link to menstruation and the social Full Moon’s association with ovulation. Attendees learned to leverage this knowledge for holistic menstrual health management.

Treating Chronic Skin Diseases with Ayurvedic Psycho-somatic Methods – Dr. Vivek Shanbhag, ND, MD (Ayurveda), BAMS, CYEd & Vaidya Jayarajan Kodikannath, BSc., BAMS, AD

Dr. Vivek Shanbhag shared Ayurvedic methods for treating chronic skin diseases using Ayurvedic psycho-somatic methods. Collaborating with Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath, they emphasized similar modalities involving herbs, diet, and lifestyle adjustments. Attendees learned about integrative approaches to managing skin conditions, emphasizing Ayurvedic principles and collaborative healthcare

Thank you to our soulful cultural performers: 

At the CAAM conference, attendees were treated to soulful kirtan melodies on Friday night, creating a serene atmosphere filled with devotional music. The cultural richness continued on Saturday night with captivating performances of Indian classical dancing, mesmerizing the audience with graceful movements and traditional rhythms.

Thank you for our nourishment: 

During the conference, participants savored the flavors of India with a delectable spread of Indian cuisine. The culinary journey continued with a fusion of Italian-inspired dishes, adding a delightful twist to the dining experience and offering a taste of diverse culinary traditions

A Note of Gratitude 

The CAAM conference has been an enriching journey through Ayurveda thanks to our esteemed speakers who shared valuable insights. We deeply appreciate the active participation of all attendees, which made this event vibrant and insightful. Special thanks to our volunteers for their dedication behind the scenes. As we conclude, we anticipate more enlightening conferences ahead, fostering community and growth.

About the Authors

Rupa Raj, CAP

Rupa is a former healthcare consultant and medical device marketer. Rupa completed the AP program at SCU, is NAMA certified and will continue to deepen her knowledge this summer as an intern with Banyan’s Living Ayurveda Intensive program. Rupa continues to provide market strategy consulting to health tech startups while running her Ayurvedic Coaching Practice. In her practice, Rupa provides 1:1 coaching, leads a wellness community program for high-performing executive women, guides groups through Ayurvedic Cleanses, and speaks at corporate wellness events & retreats.

Parija Patel, CAP

Parija is a former attorney. She was drawn to holistic practices and the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. She completed the Ayurvedic Practitioner program at the Southern California University of Health Sciences. Parija is a NAMA Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. Parija is passionate about integrating ancient wisdom with modern wellness. Currently, she is focused on crafting an Ayurveda skincare line and creating an educational program in skincare to offer natural, holistic solutions for vibrant health and well-being. She is continuing her learning in natural skincare by pursuing a diploma in organic skincare formulation.

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