Health Disclaimer
Editorial Page, Health Matters, October 2023

Health Disclaimer

By Caitlin Rothermel

Last month, the Loop Editorial Board reviewed and updated the “Health Disclaimer” run in every issue. We made changes based on input from a writer who pointed out that its language – applied to be legally protective, and typical of what you would see in a health disclaimer – was actually off-putting when viewed alongside a person’s hard-wrought writing and research efforts.

Our discussion led us to ask questions like, How broad is the concept of health? Isn’t health actually part of almost everything? If health considerations exist when discussing an herbal or exercise regimen, aren’t we also treading into health by publishing recipes? Given that, how far do we want to go in terms of self-protective language, and how come we aren’t equally focused on the language of self-benefit?

Although conventional healthcare is becoming more fragmented and harder to obtain (and our Island location leads to additional accessibility issues), alternative healthcare in Washington State is a bright light in a dimming room. We have a real paradigm shift in preventative health happening right here, and it’s not discussed often enough. 

First, in Washington state, naturopathic doctors are covered by commercial insurance. Theoretically, patients on Medicaid (low-income) can also get ND coverage. Because of this, people are incentivized to become NDs, and NDs are less likely to be considered second-class practitioners. My ND provides me with integrated, attentive care – a perspective that’s often missing from conventional medical settings. 

This acceptance of NDs has led to an increased openness to a range of alternative, preventive therapies like massage, acupuncture, neurofeedback, and nutrition counseling. Exercise instruction that targets your fascia to strengthen and improve the resilience of aging and/or sedentary bodies. Chiropractors whose multifaceted and careful techniques bear no resemblance to the fearful neck-cracking that’s often assumed. 

The value of this was brought home recently when I visited one of my oldest friends. She lives in a village in the Adirondacks in New York. In many ways, her little town is similar to ours. Both places have an artistic and independent vibe, are off the beaten path, and have gone through big population and income changes in a process that’s sped-up considerably in the past few years. 

My friend and her husband own and run a restaurant, but their bodies ache, they are tired often, and they have to travel about 100 miles to see their doctor. I had ideas for alternative treatments that could help, and I was so certain that something useful would exist in their village because it felt like this was a place where such things belonged. But I researched, and there was almost nothing – no fledgling alternative health community that I could see. Not even an acupuncturist.

Our “woo woo” West Coast lifestyle is joked about, but the health modalities we have access to bring pleasure, improve functioning, and provide us with real and ongoing benefit. We also support one another in researching and obtaining this care – we respect and are curious about each other’s health choices.

Since The Loop was restarted, we have been running regular columns talking about health and written by our Island’s practitioners. If you provide a health service here, we would love to learn more about what you do. Write us at

October 11, 2023

About Author

caitlin I’m a member of the Vashon Loop Editorial Board and write about medicine, health, and society. I’m a research geek and an MPH, and I’m also a mom, farmer, teacher, and apocalypse librarian. I edit things. If I’m not doing something, it’s probably because I am asleep.