Amidst of the waves of information on local, national and global developments related to COVID-19, efforts stand out of a few organizations to capture and bundle content that targets the integrative practice communities. Among the entities that have established resources pages are the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and the American Nutrition Association. In contradistinction to the advisories of the United States’ federal agencies and state governments, these organizations have in common that their leaders believe that there is more that an individual can do than “healthy waiting” (sleep, exercise, don’t smoke, limit sugar) as the virus continues its course through their communities. Each organization directly suggests multiple steps that might be indicated, and the science supporting it.
The Weil Center at the University of Arizona, the most influential academic center for integrative medicine, has once again stepped into the breech and developed a page called “Integrative Approaches to COVID-19”. Center executive director Victoria Maizes, MD, MPH clarifies in a cover letter announcing the action that the site “is intended to augment (not replace) public health measures of handwashing, physical distancing, and seeking testing/medical care should you become sick.” It’s focus is on the individual consumer and practitioner.
The site, developed with leadership from associate director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine Lise Alschuler, ND, is evolving. As of March 26, 2019 the site housed 4 sections: a downloadable “Integrative Approaches” PDF, a set of short videos, and links to well-being resources and additional resources from the Center’s extensive library. The exceptional PDF, 1.5 pages long with another 2 pages of 57 scientific references, is divided into 3 segments: 8 practices and products for risk reduction, 5 products to avoid and 10 “likely safe” agents. The 7-author team has published this primer through the peer-reviewed Explore! journal. Quick action! They make a strong point in their disclaimer: “No integrative measures have been validated in human trials specifically for COVID-19.” Then they add: “Notwithstanding, this is an opportune time to be proactive.” The teaching focuses on wellness strategies.
On March 23, 2020, the AANP issued a press release “urg(ing) authorities to include and use licensed naturopathic doctors in plans to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.” In parallel, the organization mounted its evolving “COVID-19 Resources and Clinic Guidelines for NDs”. The pages include details for instance on telemedicine, on how to manage a clinic in the time of the virus, guidances from state and federal authorities, and much more.
The AANP chooses to use the phrase “Clinical Resources for Naturopathic Approaches to Supportive Therapies” to denote the potential value that multiple naturopathic therapeutics might offer. This portion of the site is open to non-members (although a log-in is required). The organization makes a point of both reigning in claims, and urging members to contact those who they believe may be making claims not supported by the evidence:
All healthcare providers should refrain from making health claims or proclamations about a “cure” or product that can “prevent” or successfully treat COVID-19. There are currently no nutrients, botanicals, vaccines, pills, lozenges or other prescription or over the counter products available to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 specifically … If you see misinformation from other providers, assume best of intentions and reach out to the individual privately or contact the AANP.
The development of the extensive site is being led by AANP president Rob Kachko, ND, LAc and executive director Laura Farr and a task force from the ND community. The dialogue among task force members regarding a segment of the resource where members are invited to share insights led to the separate development of the Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine COVID-19 Support Registry. Check it out and participate!
The umbrella-organization for personalized nutrition professionals, the American Nutrition Association, on March 26, 2020 announced the launch of its Personalized Nutrition & COVID-19 Resource Hub. The development of the resource was led by Corinne Bush, MS, CNS, ANA’s director of nutrition science and education.
The centerpiece is entitled “Personalized Nutrition and Covid-19: A Rapid Review for Healthcare Professionals”. The work, the product of the ANA’s 10-member COVID-19 Task Force, is dutifully caveated: “The following information is not intended as medical treatment, but rather a review of the current science. This information is not comprehensive and will be updated as new information emerges in the literature. The addition of any nutrient or compound may impact viral replication or human cellular function differently during prevention and over the course of disease progression.” The resource includes examination of inflammatory targets, cytokine inhibitors, viral enzyme targets, potential viral enzyme influencers, and multiple supplements and behavioral choices.
The release from the ANA echoes that of the AANP in that it asserts the value of nutrition professionals as part of the workforce available to help address the pandemic. Says CEO Michael Stroka, JD, MBA, MS, CNS, LDN: “The work of the American Nutrition Association is more relevant than ever. All personalized nutrition health professionals are critical members of the healthcare workforce.” The site includes a useful page of “Other Trusted Resources” (including a link to the Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Health and Medicine COVID-19 Support Registry – credit ANA for moving on this quickly). Also included are various public and professional resources. The latter, for instance, begins with a link to the “Intelligent Medicine” podcast of long time integrative leader and ANA board member Ronald Hoffman, MD in which he interviews author and fellow integrative pioneer Leo Galland, MD. Others on the site are with David Perlmutter, MD, a member of the ANA Task Force.
Credit these organizations for seizing the moment to hoist these resources into being, and in the case of Lise Alschuler, ND and the Weil Center, to get their perspectives out into the peer-reviewed literature via the Explore column. Credit also the AANP for creating the task force that prompted member and NIH-funded researcher Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH to initiate development of the Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Health and Medicine COVID-19 Support Registry. Credit now goes to any of you who click into the Registry, learn about it. Then, if you are a clinician, start using it; and if not a clinician, make a point of letting integrative practitioners in your circles know about it. The Registry can be a change agent if sufficient numbers of practitioners participate.