Minnesota is different from most states because, while it provides for the licensure of dietitians, and nutritionists, there is a separate “safe harbor” complementary and alternative health care practices law. (Chapter 146A, Section 146A.01.4)
Under the dietetics law you cannot advertise or be perceived as “assessing nutritional needs of individuals and groups” etc. You also cannot do or say anything that would give the impression that you are licensed, registered, or call yourself a nutritionist or dietitian.
You may provide a general program for weight control without a license if it is reviewed by, consultation is available from, and no change to the program can be initiated without approval of a licensed or registered dietitian.
If you are employed by certain programs or businesses, you are not restricted from providing services and information related to nonmedical nutrition. This includes if you are employed by a:
- Federal, state, county, or municipal agency
- Elementary or secondary school
- Regionally accredited institution of higher education
- Nonprofit agency
- A medicine practice, including nursing, optometry, psychology, pharmacy, dentistry, or chiropractic
An animal nutritionist may use the title “nutritionist,” so long as the provided services are only for animals.
You are allowed to provide nutrition services to family members, so long as no remuneration is provided.
You can also practice nutrition with the supervision of a licensed dietitian or licensed nutrition. This includes:
- Anyone pursuing a degree in dietetics, provided that person holds a title indicating status as a student or trainee
- Anyone fulfilling the professional experience requirements needed to obtain licensure, provided that person holds a title indicating status as a student or trainee
- Anyone working in a program supervised by a licensed dietitian or nutritionist
If you are a home economist with a baccalaureate or graduate degree, you can practice dietetics.
The law also allows any person who is recognized in the community as a provider of nutritional advice according to or based on traditional practices to do so. The law does not elaborate on “community” or “traditional.” Traditional could apply to religious, cultural, or historical practices.
You can market or distribute food, food materials, or dietary supplements and further explain how to use or to prepare those products.
That’s where the dietetics law ends and a safe harbor opens up for holistic practitioners. Under Minnesota law, an unlicensed complementary and alternative health care practitioner may not provide a medical diagnosis or recommend discontinuance of medically prescribed treatments. It specifically identifies an unlicensed, complementary and alternative health care practitioner, as someone who “is not licensed or registered by a health-related licensing board or the commissioner of health…” (CHAPTER 146A)
The law further defines someone who is an unlicensed complementary and alternative health care practitioner as someone who:
(3) is engaging in complementary and alternative health care practices; and (those practices listed here in statute); or
(4) is providing complementary and alternative health care services for remuneration or is holding oneself out to the public as a practitioner of complementary and alternative health care practices.
This is important because it means you can charge for your services. It then goes on to list specific areas of complementary, and alternative help which qualify under the safe harbor, the the state keeps it open-ended and does not limit this list. Some of those specific areas that protect holistic practitioners are bolded.
(3) aroma therapy;
(5) cranial sacral therapy;
(6) culturally traditional healing practices;
(7) detoxification practices and therapies;
(8) energetic healing;
(9) polarity therapy;
(10) folk practices;
(11) healing practices utilizing food, food supplements, nutrients, and the physical forces of heat, cold, water, touch, and light;
(12) Gerson therapy and colostrum therapy;
(13) healing touch;
(14) herbology or herbalism;
(16) nondiagnostic iridology;
(17) body work, massage, and massage therapy;
(19) mind-body healing practices;
(21) noninvasive instrumentalities; and
(22) traditional Oriental practices, such as Qi Gong energy healing.”
Source: Chapter 148, Section 148.632