American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Administrator Diana Eve Swisher awarded Master of Arts in Ayurveda

It is with distinct pleasure and honor that AHP inform you that AHP's Administrator Ms. Diana Eve Swisher graduated on June 21, 2009 from the first accredited Master's Degree program in Ayurveda in the United States.

Diana has been the administrator for AHP for 12 years. Studying Ayurveda and living Ayurvedically has been a lifelong pursuit of Diana. While raising three children, Diana successfully obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California-Santa Cruz specifically with the goal of one day engaging in graduate studies in Ayurveda, but for the past number of years no such program existed. In universal serendipity, just such a program was initiated in AHP’s very backyard at the Mt. Madonna Institute in nearby Watsonville, CA.

Mt. Madonna is a conference and retreat center in the mountains overlooking the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For more than 30 years, Mt. Madonna, under the tutelage and guidance of renowned yogi and spiritual leader Baba Hari Das, has been providing certified yoga training and building a conscious community dedicated to service to humanity. One of the original goals of the Mt. Madonna Center was to develop an educational program in Ayurveda. Over the past three decades, some of the leading proponents of Ayurveda in the United States, including RP Trivedi, Robbie Svoboda, and Vasant Lad, in addition to Baba Hari Das, have been keeping the spark of Ayurveda alive in the community. After much work and hundreds of hours in working with the State of California Board of Education, the Mt. Madonna Institute and College of Ayurveda was born. Diana was in the first graduating class and awarded a Masters of Arts degree in Ayurveda, thus fulfilling a long standing personal goal as well as fulfilling a long-term vision of the Mt. Madonna community.

The program included some of the most renowned Ayurvedic instructors in the world, including Vasant Lad (Ayurvedic Institute, Albuquerque), Dr. Sarita Sresta (Nepal), RH Singh (Banaras, India), and John Douillard (LifeSpa, Boulder, CO).

One of the goals of AHP is to increase its development of monographs on botanicals used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Diana's focused knowledge and interest of Ayurveda will greatly contribute to this process. Currently AHP is working on Ayurvedic herb monographs for Phyllanthus emblica (amalaki), Terminalia belerica (bibhitaki), and Terminalia chebula (haritaki), as well as for Bacopa monnieri (brahmi) and Centella asiatica (gotu kola). Diana's thesis work focused on a review of the botanical, morphological, chemical, energetic, therapeutic, and pharmacological differences between Bacopa and Centella due to the two herbs often being confused because of the sharing of the common name brahmi.

This awarding of the first Master's Degree in Ayurveda in the US is a historical landmark in the development and evolution of Ayurveda in North America. The graduates, as well the administrators of the Mt. Madonna Institute, most notably Cynthia Ambika Copple, dean of the program, are to be congratulated for this historic accomplishment.

Roy Upton
Executive Director
American Herbal Pharmacopoeia

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