By Mary-Ellen McKenna, ND (Inactive)
Manager, Professional Practice

College Members and the public have both asked us about why naturopaths are not allowed to provide immune support for patient during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The College has never said that Members are not allowed to provide immune support to patients, including those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The College, however, does say that any statements by naturopaths about their ability to prevent and/or treat COVID-19 (beyond the information currently available from public health authorities) are inappropriate, potentially harmful, and likely to violate the College's Standard of Practice for Advertising.

During a patient visit, naturopaths (NDs) may discuss the use of naturopathic treatment, such as supplements and botanical remedies, to support a patient's immune system. If the patient has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the ND must use their clinical judgment to determine if they have the clinical knowledge and training to treat the patient (just as they would with any patient).

"Immune support" can mean many things depending on a patient's current health concerns and any underlying conditions. Treatments provided for patients who have autoimmune conditions will differ from those provided to patients with healthy immune systems and who have no additional conditions that could increase their risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

Providing individualised care that may include immune system support is different from advertising that an ND can provide treatment or prevention for COVID-19. There is a concern that if a Member advertises or advises that they can provide treatment to boost the immune system in relation to the novel coronavirus, it may imply that this will prevent infection from COVID-19 or possibly cure someone who has the virus.

The College's Standard of Practice for Advertising prohibits marketing and/or advertising that is false, inaccurate, reasonably capable of misleading the public, unverifiable, or contrary to the public interest in the practice of the profession. While research is underway to find treatments to prevent and cure COVID-19, none have proven effective yet.

If you have other practice related questions, please e-mail me (maryellen.mckenna@collegeofnaturopaths.on.ca) and I would be happy to answer.