Posts by: Carly Barrett

Why Sports Nutrition is Changing and Becoming a Required Subspeciality

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by Dr. Oscar Coetzee – Associate Professor/Clinician/Researcher

What is Sports Nutrition?

Nutrition is one of the fastest growing professions in the world according to the Bureau on Labor statistics. It will grow as a profession between 15% – 22% in the next five years, and it is estimated due to the chronic illness in the USA, the demand will outweigh the supply. The integration of the Functional Medical Paradigm all over the world in education, is setting nutritional professional apart from any other medical specialty, as the true success of functional medicine lies in the nutritional intervention and lifestyle modifications. Thus, many subspecialities are forming in nutrition, and the one still on the outside looking in, is sports nutrition. 

The Importance of Sports Nutrition

Every aspect of sport performance enhancement today is at the highest level through the evolvement of computer science and high-level biomedical research. Yet, in sports nutrition it is still about macros and calories, and pretty much a one size fits all approach. Some diets like Carbohydrate loading, Ketogenic or Paleolithic and certain nutraceuticals are highly touted for sports performance, but none of these have been truly investigated through proper research in the scientific literature. Bio-individuality seems to be left out when it comes to sports nutrition specifically. Various electrolytes, antioxidants, fatty acids and branch chain amino acids are frequently promoted as the all-encompassing nutrients for top athletes. But are they? Is it possible that for one athlete a specific amino acid or antioxidant can be a friend and for another a foe? As a part of my practice, I have worked with professional athletes for more than 15 years. I have sculpted my assessments and interventions through trial and error and created a new area of sports performance that I term Psychonutrigenomics. In collaboration with Diagnostic Lab Solutions, my team and I have been able to take sports performance, sports nutrition and sports immunity to a level of total athletic individuality. Through the implementation of this approach, we have had various international victories and successes, taking our athletes to the peak of individual achievement. 

It is time that we march to a different drummer, time to truly evolve the field of sports nutrition and performance by integrating the individual assessments of metabolic, physical, genetic, biochemical and psychological markers. As an example, mental clarity and anxiety control can come from proper nutrient absorption through the conversion of amino acids like tryptophan and tyrosine. They convert into neurotransmitters (NT) serotonin and dopamine, which in turn convert into some catecholamines like epinephrine and norepinephrine. These NT and catecholamines have everything to do with focus, motivation, concentration and athletic performance and they require, iron, vit. C and B6, and SAMe.  These micronutrients can only be obtained through food and supplementation, of which most humans in the USA are deficient. In addition to this, some people have issues genetically in converting these, and others are just in a state of malabsorption due to overtraining or intestinal permeability, thus they cannot have these intermediates convert properly. The science of nutritional assessment has come very far, and today we can determine if you have a genetic shortcoming, if you are immunocompromised, if you are malnourished, if you have an energy conversion deficit or all the above. 

In order to evolve athletes to optimal performance from a bio-individual perspective; the athlete needs to be assessed at 5 levels:

  1. Psychology of performance – assessing personality performance profiling. 
  2. Proteomicsthe large-scale study of proteins, and their involvement in human performance. 
  3. Metabolomicsthe scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites, the small molecule substrates, intermediates and products of metabolism, as it relates to energy and athletic performance. 
  4. Nutrigenomicsthe scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the optimizing performance.
  5. Microbiomesthe study of the totality of microorganisms and their collective genetic material present in or on the human body and the effect on human performance, recovery and immunity. 

In partnering with Diagnostic Solutions Lab, we incorporate various functional tests, to determine the origin and baseline of each athlete, in order to design the appropriate intervention strategy not only for performance but also recovery, something that is very often overlooked in professional athletes. 

Various tests we use from DSL to assess the above criteria: 

  1. The GI-MAP’s accuracy and reliability allows practitioners to create personalized treatment protocols to address gut dysfunction. Although qPCR is becoming more commonplace in in-vitro diagnostics (IVD), DSL is the only laboratory in the United States exclusively using qPCR technology for advanced comprehensive stool testing. This technology is used routinely in clinical and academic research because it provides highly-accurate quantification, as well as high levels of sensitivity and specificity. Standard PCR technology doesn’t offer the same level of sensitivity, or the ability to express precise numerical results.
  2. GenomicInsight provides a global view of the interconnectedness of SNPs and offers access to informatics that reveal lifestyle and therapeutic recommendations that may influence a gene’s expression and function. The role of genomics and epigenetics is recognized as an important tool in monitoring, preventing, and treating dysfunction. Furthermore, medical literature supports that epigenetics (the impact of the environment on gene expression) plays a critical role in human health. GenomicInsight with Opus23 Explorer identifies how the function or dysfunction of one gene impacts the expression and function of a separately-related gene or SNP. 
  3. Labrix introduced neurotransmitter testing in 2012, meeting the need for non-invasive solutions for practitioners who wanted a more comprehensive view of the body’s functional neuroendocrine status. Doctor’s Data neurotransmitter testing utilizes HPLC Triple Quadrupole MS/MS technology which is proving to be the most sensitive and accurate methodology for measuring urinary neurotransmitters. This testing has higher sensitivity and has stronger results reproducibility than has been available through other methodologies; this gives you far greater confidence in the reported results.
  4. Functional Blood work overview. All our athletes are also screened through their CBC and CMP panels from a functional perspective to review any underlying, or early-stage chronic inflammation or metabolic issues that can inhibit performance. Looking at conventional blood markers and assessing based on optimal levels.  Too often people fall into “normal” ranges on their blood work performed by their doctors, and although they feel sick, they are told everything is normal.  By taking a deeper look, and combining regular blood work with additional functional markers, a more comprehensive assessment can be made regarding one’s current performance and in the future. In a 2019 review article by Pedlar et al. they found that serial blood test data can be used to monitor athletes and make inferences about the efficacy of training interventions, nutritional strategies or indeed the capacity to tolerate training load. Via a profiling and monitoring approach, blood biomarker measurement combined with contextual data has the potential to help athletes avoid injury and illness via adjustments to diet, training load and recovery strategies. Since wide inter-individual variability exists in many biomarkers, clinical population-based reference data can be of limited value in athletes, and statistical methods for longitudinal data are required to identify meaningful changes within an athlete. 
  5. Organic acids are chemical compounds excreted in the urine of mammals that are products of metabolism. Metabolism is the sum of chemical reactions in living beings by which the body builds new molecules and breaks down molecules to eliminate waste products and produce energy – understanding energy is vital in athletes. Organic acids are most commonly analyzed in urine because they are not extensively reabsorbed in the kidney tubules after glomerular filtration.  Thus, organic acids in urine are often present at 100 times their concentration in the blood serum and thus are more readily detected in urine.  

How to Use Sports Nutrition in Practice

Once we have reviewed all the above information, we can build a nutritional protocol for athletes, around their genetic makeup, assisting in the weaker areas of the genetics, through a strong nutritional prevention strategy. We can assess inflammation, metabolic energy status, and the levels of immune suppression by looking at the other markers, and design intervention strategies to address those issues. 

This level of scientific precision and assessment on an individual nutritional level, is not going to be the exception but the rule for future professional athlete intervention. The change of a higher level in the standard of care has already begun for competitive athletes and weekend warriors. Using these tools to our disposal will help us in the future better understand the different needs of different kinds of athletes, and the level of stress and depletions these sports put on our bodies. 

Maryland University of Integrative Health is one educational institution that is taking the lead in enhancing this new subspeciality. They have launched a 13 credit Sport Certificate Program, that investigates all these concepts at baseline. Their Masters of Nutrition and Integrative Health also trains the future nutritionist at a level of superior functional assessment by investigating all the above biochemical assessments in some of their core courses. The best way to become a good sports nutritionist is to have a very good base education in the overall nutritional sciences. 

In conclusion as biochemist Dr. Roger J. Williams states in his book “Biochemical Individuality”: There is no such thing as an average person, we are all genetically and biologically unique. But when sperm meets egg, our characteristics are not locked in stone, bad genes do not necessarily cause disease by themselves, and nutrition and environment can alter the outcome.

Interested in our Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Sports Performance & Integrative Nutrition program? Learn more information today and /bookings/">Contact Graduate Admissions for questions.

Resources

Pedlar, C.R., Newell, J. & Lewis, N.A. Blood Biomarker Profiling and Monitoring for High-Performance Physiology and Nutrition: Current Perspectives, Limitations and Recommendations. Sports Med 49, 185–198 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01158-x

Integrative Health at MUIH

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Integrative health is commonly defined as the coordinated use of multiple health approaches in health care, and it also describes a holistic perspective of what it is to be healthy.

At MUIH, we promote integrative health as a holistic approach to health and well-being. We consider the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual domains of health and wellness. We also consider a range of contributing factors including the environment, personal behaviors, and genetics. Our educational and clinical practices are grounded in a whole-person and relationship-centered perspective that supports collaboration between the patient and the healthcare team. We aim to empower individuals to become informed, take personal responsibility, tap into their inner resilience, and choose the best options for themselves. We use approaches that are evidence-informed and tailored to each individual.

Trauma Recovery in Our Collective Pandemic Experience

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Trauma Recovery in Our Collective Pandemic Experience

We have been living under the spectre of a global pandemic for a long time. To varying degrees and in diverse ways, we are all feeling it. Whether you are grieving lost loved ones, suffering long stretches alone, rising to the demand of being a front-line worker – even if you are enjoying the chance to slow down – the constant bandwidth of following protocols wears at resilience. 

Continue reading…

The Difference Between a Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Teacher

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What’s the difference between a yoga therapist and a yoga instructor?

 

Yoga Therapist Yoga Instructor
Audience Work one-on-one and in group settings with clients in a therapeutic relationship. Work with groups of people and teach general yoga classes.
Approach Help clients address health concerns and achieve relief from physical and emotional pain through the practice of yoga. Helping clients to cultivate greater wellbeing through the practices of yoga. Teach students how to perform yoga poses and practices.
Focus Focus on the individual goals and needs of clients and use therapeutic practices tailored to mitigate symptoms, restore wellness, improve function, and avoid re-injury.  Focus on yoga poses and alignment, breathing, meditation, and relaxation for general maintenance of well-being and exercise.
Emphases Emphasize personal empowerment of clients in self-care. Emphasize correct yoga technique.
Progress Measure the impact of therapy over time and adjust therapeutic practices based on clients’ progress. Provide opportunities for the structured and regular personal practice of yoga.
Collaboration Collaborate with other health care and medical practitioners to provide integrated care. Collaborate with other yoga instructors in learning and designing classes.
Settings Private practice, conventional health care and medical settings, hospitals and hospital systems, and health and wellness centers. Yoga studios, fitness clubs, gyms, and corporate settings.

 

Which Type of Yoga Therapy or Yoga Program is Best for Me?

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MUIH’s Post-Master’s Certificate is best if you …

  • See yourself primarily as a licensed health care provider in a field other than yoga.
  • Want to add therapeutic yoga practices to your current licensed health care work.
  • Want to incorporate yoga’s mind-body protocols in individualized plans tailored to clients’ needs.
  • Want to continue in your licensed field in conventional medical and health and wellness settings.

 

MUIH’s M.S. Yoga Therapy program is best if you …

  • See yourself primarily as a yoga therapist.
  • Intend to establish a private practice as a yoga therapist.
  • Want to work one-on-one and in groups with clients in a therapeutic relationship using yoga therapy.
  • Want to develop individualized yoga therapy plans tailored to clients’ needs
  • Want develop group yoga series for populations with specific needs.
  • Want to work in conventional medical and health and wellness settings as an integrative health professional.

 

A Yoga Teacher Training program (not offered by MUIH) is best is you …

  • See yourself primarily as a yoga teacher/instructor.
  • Intend to teach yoga classes.
  • Want to work with groups of people.
  • Want to use standardized sequences of yoga poses.
  • Want to work in studio settings.

Integrative Health Resources in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

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Today marks the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. The MUIH team would like to highlight ways integrative health is impacting the community.Below are articles related to herbal medicine, nutrition, and health and wellness coaching. Thanks to Herbal Product Design and Manufacture Student and Yoga Therapy Alumna Monce Boston, MS, C-IAYT for putting this research together for our community.

A Systematic Review of the Prevalence of Herb Usage Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities in the United States:

“The reasons for herb usage were perse but fell into: treatment for an ailment, overall health promotion, personal belief, attitudes about medications, or familial usage.”

Gardiner, P., Whelan, J., White, L. F., Filippelli, A. C., Bharmal, N., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2013). A systematic review of the prevalence of herb usage among racial/ethnic minorities in the United States. Journal of immigrant and minority health, 15(4), 817–828.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-012-9661-zhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4401997/?report=reader

The Use of Herbal Medicine by Older Mexican Americans:

“Chamomile and mint were the two most commonly used herbs. Users of herbal medicines were more likely to be women, born in Mexico, over age 75, living alone, and experiencing some financial strain. Having arthritis, urinary incontinence, asthma, and hip fracture were also associated with an elevated use of herbal medicines, whereas heart attacks were not.”

Loera, J. A., Black, S. A., Markides, K. S., Espino, D. V., & Goodwin, J. S. (2001). The use of herbal medicine by older Mexican Americans. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 56(11), M714–M718. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/56.11.m714https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/56/11/M714/591122

Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos:

“The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos is a population-based cohort study… Variations in diet noted in this study, with additional analysis, may help explain diet-related differences in health outcomes observed in Hispanics and Latinos.”

Siega-Riz, A. M., Sotres-Alvarez, D., Ayala, G. X., Ginsberg, M., Himes, J. H., Liu, K., Loria, C. M., Mossavar-Rahmani, Y., Rock, C. L., Rodriguez, B., Gellman, M. D., & Van Horn, L. (2014). Food-group and nutrient-density intakes by Hispanic and Latino backgrounds in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 99(6), 1487–1498. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.082685https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4021787/

Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002–2012:

“Although the use of inpidual approaches varied across the three time points, nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements remained the most popular complementary health approach used. The use of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong increased linearly across the three time points; among these three approaches, yoga accounted for approximately 80% of the prevalence. The use of any complementary health approach also differed by selected sociodemographic characteristics. The most notable observed differences in use were by age and Hispanic or Latino origin and race.”

Clarke, T. C., Black, L. I., Stussman, B. J., Barnes, P. M., & Nahin, R. L. (2015). Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002-2012. National health statistics reports, (79), 1–16.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573565/#:~:text=Overall%20use%20of%20complementary%20health%20approaches%2C%20by%20selected%20characteristics,most%20recently%2033.2%25%20in%202012.

Health Coaching for the Underserved:

“This case report illustrates how the motivational power of coaching conversations was a modestly useful methodology in breaking through the social isolation and loneliness of street-dwelling adults with chronic health problems. It also was a useful methodology for developing capacity for accomplishing short-term goals that were self-identified. Additionally, health coaching presented an opportunity for transitioning poverty-level inpiduals from passive recipients using public health sector services to more empowered actors with first-stage awareness who initiated preventive health actions.”

Jordan,M. (2013). Health coaching for the underserved. Global advances in health and medicine, 2(3), 75–82. https://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2013.025https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3833542/

Tips to Evaluating Integrative Health Information

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Professional and Continuing Education

Trusting the Experts – 3 Tips to Evaluating Integrative Health Information

Author: Daryl Nault

If you have ever attended an educational seminar, clinical workshop, or read an editorial written by a clinical professional, you’ve likely been exposed to expert advice. More than ever, experts may also share information online through blogs, vlogs, and even social media. Policymakers and the general public also place stock in expert advice, so it can also have considerable influence on public health measures too.

Expert advice (or opinion) generally refers to evidence, information, or guidance given by someone who’s work has made them an authority in their field. Clinical experts could be academics, specialists, or practicing clinicians, who have spent a considerable amount of time studying one area of interest. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone calling themselves an expert truly meets these criteria.

So, how do you know whether a piece of so-called expert advice is worth implementing in your practice? 

When experts present valid, relevant, evidence-based information, it can be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, not all expert advice meets these criteria, so it is up to you to critically appraise the information being provided.

On the other hand, you may also find that others look to you for expert advice, and you want to be sure you’re giving valid and reliable information to them too. Luckily, the same appraisal guidelines can be broadly applied in both situations.

Whether you’re appraising or giving expert advice, your foremost concerns should be on three things: transparency, balance, and accessibility.

Transparency 

Good expert advice should be clear on what is fact, and what is simply an opinion. If this is difficult to discern, proceed cautiously. Ideally, expert advice should only rarely be based on opinion, if at all. The information or facts being claimed should be well supported by relevant and applicable scientific evidence, rather than subjective findings like testimonials. The information provided should also be accurate and verifiable. If there is any question, check out similar resources. Do they align with what is being reported? If not, consider seeking out an additional reference or two to be sure.

You want to look for resources that are clear about the reason they are presenting the information. For example, the purpose of this resource is to provide a general guideline for a clinical audience in writing and appraising expert advice. At the end of this piece, we will also invite you to join us for a more comprehensive Professional and Continuing Education course if you would like to further improve your ability to write evidence-based information as an expert in your field.

Balance 

Alternative viewpoints, limitations, and methodologies should be discussed. If the expert or website is only providing positive or negative evidence in support of their claims, important information is possibly being omitted. Clinical applications should also be considered. Providing warnings where a modality or treatment is not evidenced to work well, or caveats to seek out the advice of your medical practitioner, shows that the author understands the relationship between clinical application and research evidence.

This may go without saying, but the expert should have some authority in the field they are reporting on, and the credentials to match. No matter how expert someone is in a field though, they should never insist that their answer is the only answer available. Red flags should go up if the expert is not open to the possibility that they may be wrong, or if they expect others to follow their lead without question.

Accessibility 

The advice should be intellectually accessible for the target audience. Be aware when experts use overly technical or complex language. This could indicate poor communication skills at best, or at worst, it could be a sign that the authors are trying to obscure the details.

The evidence authors reference should also be physically accessible to the intended audience. If the evidence being cited is entirely behind a paywall or otherwise inaccessible, readers are left without the ability to cross-reference the information being conveyed. Once information is no longer verifiable, and readers can only take the author’s word at face value.

Technically, anyone can call themselves an expert and give advice. As a clinician, others may naturally look to you to be the expert. Your clinical responsibility as an expert is to share information in a way that is transparent, balanced, and accessible.

 

Establish Yourself as a Credible Resource in Integrative Health

If you are looking to hone your evidence-based writing skills, you may be interested in our online, mentor-led Scientific Writing for Integrative Health Professional and Continuing Education course. This unique course is designed to help you improve the way you communicate evidence-based research with a lay or clinical audience, to help you become a trusted, educated, and authoritative resource for others in the field of integrative health.

Communicating Evidence-Based Research: Scientific Writing for Integrative Health

Online, Self-Paced, Mentor-led Course

Translating evidence-based health information is difficult, even for experienced health practitioners. Join this comprehensive six-module course with the support of an experienced mentor, and we’ll get you started in creating evidence-based compositions that you will be proud to share with your clinical community.

LEARN MORE AND ENROLL NOW! 

 

 

References and Additional Resources:

Investigating Public trust in Expert Knowledge: Narrative, Ethics, and Engagement. Journal of bioethical inquiry14(1), 23–30. doi:10.1007/s11673-016-9767-4

Massicotte A. (2015). When to trust health information posted on the Internet. Canadian pharmacists journal : CPJ = Revue des pharmaciens du Canada : RPC148(2), 61–63. doi:10.1177/1715163515569212.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Finding and Evaluating Online Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/webresources

National Institute on Aging. Finding and Evaluating Online Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/webresources

Nault, D., Beccia, A., Ito, H., Kashdan, S., & Senders, A. (2018). Health Information Discrepancies Between Internet Media and Scientific Papers Reporting on Omega-3 Supplement Research: Comparative Analysis. Interactive journal of medical research, 7(2), e15. doi:10.2196/ijmr.8981

Sbaffi, L., & Rowley, J. (2017). Trust and Credibility in Web-Based Health Information: A Review and Agenda for Future Research. Journal of medical Internet research19(6), e218. doi:10.2196/jmir.7579Camporesi, S., Vaccarella, M., & Davis, M. (2017).

Health and Wellness partnership announced between MUIH & Saldago de Saude

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Maryland University of Integrative Health and Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral announce international partnership

Laurel, Md.— Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) and Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute) announced today that they have signed an international health and wellness partnership agreement.

MUIH and Salgado Institute (Brazil) have entered into this partnership with the shared goal of working across international borders to positively impact the health and wellness of individuals and communities. Plans include collaboration on a variety of initiatives including educational programs, research, and health promotion.

Among the first collaborations was MUIH’s participation in Salgado Institute’s International Congress on Integrative Health Therapies in October 2019 (https://ihtcongress.org). The Congress provided a review of evidence-based integrative approaches to health through a program developed in collaboration with European, North and South American integrative therapy universities, institutes and professional associations. MUIH’s Marlysa Sullivan, associate professor of yoga therapy, presented her work on the role of yoga therapy in pain management. Rebecca Pille, chair of MUIH’s health and wellness coaching department, spoke about the benefits of health and wellness coaching in integrative health practices and settings.

“We are excited to begin a partnership with the Salgado Institute, and we look forward to learning from the unique expertise of Salgado’s scientists, practitioners, and educators. By sharing and combining our perspectives, we hope to enhance health and wellness practices in both North and South America,” says Marc Levin, MUIH’s president and CEO.

“It is truly a blessing to work with such an amazing institution and excellent group of professionals. We consider it a great opportunity for our students and professors to network with peers, learn and teach about integrative health therapies,” says Afonso Salgado, Salgado’s Institute founder and CEO.

About Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH)

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) is a leading academic institution focused on the study and practice of integrative health and wellness and one of the few universities in the U.S. dedicated solely to such practices. Deeply rooted in a holistic philosophy, its model for integrative health and wellness is grounded in whole-person, relationship-centered, evidence-informed care.

Since 1974, MUIH has been a values driven community educating practitioners and professionals to become future health and wellness leaders through transformative programs grounded in traditional wisdom and contemporary science. MUIH has more than 20 progressive, graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, offered on-campus and online. In the on-campus Natural Care Center and community outreach settings, MUIH provides compassionate and affordable healthcare from student interns and professional practitioners, which delivers more than 20,000 clinical treatments and consultations each year. For more information visit www.muih.edu.

About Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute)

Instituto Salgado de Saúde Integral (Salgado Institute) is the largest integrative health school in Brazil and is composed by clinicians and researchers in many health-related areas sharing the same view, to promote excellence in knowledge and patient care, evidence-based information, innovative trainings and workshops in Brazil as well as overseas. Salgado Institute is the result of more than 30 years of acquired knowledge and professional expansion engagement of its founders Afonso and Nilma Salgado. For more information, please visit http://integralhealthbrazil.com.

MUIH Introduces Services at Howard County General Hospital

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MUIH for the Howard County General Hospital

Maryland University of Integrative Health’s Natural Care Center introduces a new collaboration with the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital. The expanded range of therapies will support members in the local community, including cancer patients.

“One of the most beneficial aspects of the Natural Care Center is its deep connection to the Howard County community,” said Dr. Michelle McNear, Ph.D., director of the Natural Care Center. “We’re excited to bring our integrative health services to those in need of ways to manage chronic pain and other chronic conditions such as cancer treatment.”

Services available in the center at Howard County General Hospital include:

· Acupuncture

· Clinical nutrition

· Massage therapy

For more than 40 years, the Natural Care Center at Maryland University of Integrative Health has provided powerful, meaningful, and effective healing experiences for patients and clients that arrive with a wide array of health challenges.

About Maryland University of Integrative Health

Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) is a leading academic institution focused on the study and practice of integrative health and wellness and one of the few universities in the U.S. dedicated solely to such practices. Deeply rooted in a holistic philosophy, its model for integrative health and wellness is grounded in whole-person, relationship-centered, evidence-informed care.

Since 1974, MUIH has been a values driven community educating practitioners to become future health and wellness leaders through transformative programs grounded in traditional wisdom and contemporary science. MUIH has more than 20 progressive, graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, offered on-campus and online. In the on-campus Natural Care Center and community outreach settings, MUIH provides compassionate and affordable healthcare from student interns and professional practitioners, which delivers more than 20,000 clinical treatments and consultations each year.

For more information visit our website.

Medicare Coverage for Acupuncture Holds Promise for Patients

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acupuncture for chronic back pain

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced some historic and exciting news: In CMS’ January 21st decision memo it formally announced it would reimburse acupuncture for chronic low back pain for Medicare recipients. This is a significant milestone on the path to getting acupuncture widely recognized for its ability to help the public with a persistent and difficult chronic condition. The fact that CMS, one of the largest federal agencies, has acknowledged the effectiveness of acupuncture holds promise for patients and acupuncturists.

CMS included licensed acupuncturists as one of the providers under its “auxiliary personnel” clause. This is currently the only way CMS could include acupuncturists as they are not listed as an approved provider of Medicare services in the Social Security Act (SSA). CMS used the avenue available to it at this time to include acupuncturists and acupuncture services in Medicare.

Acupuncturists will be allowed to provide these services under the “appropriate level” of supervision by either a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist. While this is not ideal, it is still a step in the right direction as the supervision is not required to be “direct”, and again this reflects the SSA limitations CMS is working within. As the American Society of Acupuncturists highlighted in their press release regarding CMS’ decision:

“While nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and physician assistants may not practice acupuncture, their supervisory availability also vastly expands the potential for collaborative agreements. It is implicit in this that these providers are not specifically directing the nature of the acupuncture treatment, but rather are collaboratively assuring patient diagnoses, safety, follow-up, and connection to the established care system.” https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Breaking-News–ASA-and-NCCAOM-Joint-Letter-regarding-CMS-Acupuncture-Determination.html?soid=1129429298898&aid=s70PLhiLpGk

This first step provides the most advantageous way under the current law to provide acupuncture to more Medicare recipients, recognize and include acupuncturists, and further elevate acupuncture as an effective treatment for chronic low back pain which, when not appropriately addressed, can lead to opioid misuse and addiction.

MUIH will continue to lend its support to efforts – big and small – that ensure the public has access to effective health and wellness opportunities and its graduates have a robust and fulfilling professional environment to step into when they graduate.