Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Anupama Kizhakkeveettil
Dr. Anupama Kizhakkeveettil, affectionately known around campus as Dr. Anu, has been part of SCU since 2004. Dr. Anu’s diverse educational background as a doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Yoga teacher, and a Ph.D. in Public Health, has allowed her to play an integral part of growing the institution into a truly integrative health campus. Dr. Anu recently took time from her busy schedule to sit for an interview with us.
Dr. Anu, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you describe your role at SCU?
I am the Program Director for the Ayurvedic Medicine programs. Additionally, I am a Professor in the College of Science and Integrative Health (CSIH) here at SCU. I love what I do, teaching, clinical practice, and research!
As part of your role as supervisor of the academic and clinical section of Ayurveda, you spend a great deal of time in our on-campus clinic—The SCU University Health Center—as a clinical faculty, and practitioner of Ayurveda. What types of patients do you generally treat?
I treat a variety of patients from different walks of life. I often help patients with stress, anxiety, depression, joint pain, low back pain, women’s issues, and wellness care. The majority of my patients are referred to me—which I think is great! It shows me that people find value in the work we’re doing here at SCU.
What tools do you offer to your patients?
I offer diet and lifestyle recommendations, Ayurvedic therapies, herbs, Ayurvedic detox, and yoga. What I recommend varies as each individual is unique and deserves personal attention.
What advice do you offer to all of your patients?
Being busy is part of modern lifestyle and stress is inevitable. I try to educate my patients on the value of limiting their feelings of stress. Mind and body are connected, so it’s important to control the mind and thoughts. Simple factors such as diet, sleep, exercise, and timely detoxes keep us vital, healthy, and happy. Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to health and wellness. Training in Chinese medicine, which is another ancient system of healing, also helps me to understand the value of a holistic approach to health and disease management.
Ayurveda continues to grow in popularity, yet is not as popular in the United States as other forms of treatment. What is your vision for the future of Ayurvedic medicine?
My dream is to bring Ayurvedic medicine to be part of the mainstream healthcare practice in the US. Awareness and education about Ayurveda can play a pivotal role in creating healthy families and communities. I believe that Ayurveda, as a holistic system of healing, has a lot to offer in promoting health and preventing diseases, and will play an important part in the future of healthcare in the US.
You’re a very active advocate for the Ayurvedic Medicine field. Can you please tell us some of the ways you’re involved in moving the profession forward?
I have the honor of working with a number of local and national organizations. I am a Board Member of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, a nonprofit devoted to promoting Ayurvedic education and practice in California. I am working with others in the Ayurveda community to compose the first position paper on Ayurveda in California—in hopes of establishing a state licensing program that would proliferate the practice of Ayurveda and benefit patients throughout the country. I am one of the founding members of the Council of Ayurvedic Credentialing, and currently serve on the Academic Committee of this organization, which is committed to the standardization of Ayurvedic education in the United States. I serve as an Executive Committee member of the Council of Ayurvedic Research, which is an independent organization mainly working to encourage, educate and facilitate research in Ayurveda.
I served as an Ambassador of Ayurveda for the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, which engages with healthcare professionals and health seekers to embrace all global healing traditions and promote the creation of health through delivery of evidence-informed person-centered care.
Finally, I serve on the Research Working Group of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health, and as an Action board member of American Public Health Association (APHA), helping to coordinate grassroots and grass tops advocacy activities of APHA. For the past four years, I have visited Capital Hill to meet with members of Congress on public health priorities.
Not to mention your research work! Can you tell us more about research and presentations?
I have presented more than 80 scientific papers in various conferences/seminars and published more than 23 scientific journal articles. This year we have completed a study where we found that gender is a modifying factor for treatment effect among the patients receiving integrative care for low back pain. This study received a DC 2017 clinical research award. Last year we received an AIHM award for a study on integrative care that combined Ayurveda and conventional medicine for wound care.
You’ve won numerous research awards. Can you name some of the recent awards you’ve won?
I was honored to receive various awards for research related activities. Last year, one of my clinical studies received an ACC-RAC clinical research award. Recently we published that article in JMPT. This year we received a DC 2017 clinical research award and we are working on the manuscript for publication. A few times I was also the recipient of an outstanding researcher award and Excellence in research award from SCU.
You are working on some on-campus initiatives that will directly benefit the Ayurvedic field. Can you elaborate?
I have the honor of working with and helping to influence future Ayurveda practitioners through our program here at SCU. I am always looking for ways to expand our program. This year we are offering Ayurveda selective courses for Doctor of Chiropractic students. We will also be offering Ayurvedic classes for CEU credit for Doctors of Chiropractic and Naturopaths. Currently, we are in the process of developing new Ayurveda certification programs. When it comes to Ayurvedic education, I would like to see SCU become a pioneer in this field.
Can you tell me why you feel SCU stands out amongst other universities of its kind?
SCU is emerging as a pioneer in integrative medicine practices with a key focus on alternative medicine education and practice. Students are educated about various alternative and complementary systems of medicine to integrate into their practice. It is beautiful to see how various modalities of healing come together in helping the promotion of health and managing diseases. SCU prioritizes good teaching practices, and we are dedicated to providing students with many amazing opportunities and resources.
With such a busy schedule, what do you like to do in your rare free time?
I love spending time with my family. I enjoy gardening and classical Indian dance.
In closing, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share?
I’m very thankful to my family, teachers, colleagues, and the students. Each and every one of them helped me to be who I am right now. I learned a lot from each of them. The key to the success of our Ayurvedic program is our faculty, students, and staff. We have a great team here, and I’m blessed to have them in my life!