Helpful Tips For NAMACB Exam Preparation

I was asked to share how I prepared for the NAMA board examination. Like you probably are, I was nervous about taking the boards and knew that my Ayurvedic training was so different from anything I had learned from my Western education that I would need to give myself a lot of time to allow this information to sink into my psyche.

I knew that I needed to be able to accurately and appropriately apply the principles of Ayurveda to specific case scenarios when responding to exam questions about how to bring the body back to a state of balance. Here are the study tips that helped me the most:

  • Review the NAMACB study guide provided on the NAMACB website during your training so it will be easier to home in the concepts when they’re presented in class. The study guide also places everything in the proper context and order for preparing for the boards.

  • Reread all of your notes and study aids from your training, including old quizzes and exams. During my training, I made a study guide for each quiz that we had to take after completing a module. When I was preparing for the boards, I consolidated all of them into one study guide.

  • Review your textbooks, and use the figures in them to reinforce concepts that may have been confusing like: (a) dosha movement (dosha gati) of vata, pitta, and kapha throughout the body, how this is pathogenic (kostha—> sakha), and how this is used for treatment (sakha—> kostha) and (b) internal srotas (mula, marga, mukha) and the formation of tissue emphasizing the malas and upadahtus. I also made notecards to aid in the understanding of the mulas, margas, and mukhas. I used arrows to point to the area of each tissue that formed the mula, marga, and mukha. These diagrams helped me visualize the concepts, which made them easier to grasp and retain. Drawing and studying diagrams that show how vata, pitta, and kapha imbalances manifest in the tongue, skin, hair, and eyes will help you prepare for diagnosing cases on the boards, especially when using the astavidha pariksa (eightfold diagnostic method).

  • Make sure you understand and can apply the concept of ama as it relates to disease characteristics and symptom management: (a) characteristics = sticky, slimy, foul odor—> clogged channels, loss of strength, mental/physical heaviness, loss of motivation, indigestion, lethargy, excess salivation, constipation, loss of appetite fatigue, and foul smell; (b) symptoms by dosha: vata = constipation/intestinal gurgling/impaired agni/drowsiness/pain and stiffness/swelling and body aches; pitta = foul odor, green or blackish discoloration/sour taste/heartburn/stagnant digestion/elimination; kapha = viscous/sticky mucus in throat/impaired hunger/foul odor/absence of belching.

  • Create notecards with a picture of each herb, their indications and contraindications and anything else that was special about them, consolidating information from your class notes, manuals, and textbooks. See examples.

  • Make sure you understand the meaning of Ayurvedic pulse readings and what they mean with respect to cause and disease pathology (roga nidana and samprapti). I always use the pulse in my consultations to support my recommendations. In numerous cases, pulse readings have  uncovered imbalances during my consultations that were not initially revealed in the intake form. They are a very powerful aid to diagnosis.

  • Study prajnaparadha and how dhi (intellect), dhriti (self-control) and smrti (memory) factor into diseases of the body and mind and examples of excessive (atiyoga), insufficient (ayoga), and inappropriate (mithyayoga) uses of the senses and time. At NAMA 2018, these issues were one of the top areas of discussion, and we will all face them in our practices.

  • We are not testing on essential oils.

I hope these tips are helpful!

Namaste, Paula 


Dr. Paula Witt-Enderby is a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, NIH-funded melatonin research scientist and Board Certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor. She blends Western and Eastern medicine into her research on bone and breast cancer.    

Paula A. Witt-Enderby, Ph.D., Pharmacology and Toxicology

Ayurvedic Health Counselor, NAMACB CAHC