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Welcome to Tonic

A letter from the editor-in-chief

by Kate Lowenstein
Nov 17 2016, 9:14pm

We're at a crazy moment in health. Science and technology have brought about paradigm shifts in the way we understand our bodies and the world. The pursuit of wellness has shaped our generation almost as much as the internet has.

As I've prepared for today's launch of Tonic, VICE's new health channel, I've thought a lot about both health (my own​yoursDonald Trump​'s) and the internet. In combination they often go wrong, as evidenced by my own occasional cyberchondria and the overabundance of green smoothies in all of our newsfeeds. But, having worked in health media for the past ten years, I have come to believe that there's room for a new approach. 

VICE isn't new to health storytelling. In recent years we've tackled cutting-edge cures, sidelined communities, mental health​, and of course recreational drug use—delving into global health issues and matters of personal wellness alike. Tonic will continue and amplify this coverage, in the process becoming a destination for the stories that are so central to our lives.

And actually, I wish there were a word other than health to describe our focus. Health is niche, health is juicing and CrossFit and the latest weight-loss study. Tonic will tap into something broader than that, messier, more inspired, and sometimes angrier. We'll report on the crazy new research that's bringing us closer to treating difficult cancers and chronic diseases, dig into the recent spike in STDs among young people across the country, and regularly revisit the double-edged sword of big pharma. We'll touch on why jogging sucks and how to get fitter while either having fun or exerting the least amount of effort. We won't scold or speak from on high; we'll face the reality that sometimes the most valuable health advice comes in the form of damage control after a night out or tips on how much coffee you can drink before getting heart palpitations.

Tonic will take you to the bottom of the ocean​, where the search is on for cancer cures and Zika vaccines. We'll take you 14,000 feet up to Pike's Peak with an endurance runner who nearly died of an affliction that still mystifies scientists. We'll venture into migraines and marital strife, heavy periods, pills, hemorrhoids​, and sex​. We'll probe people's psyches, exposing the dark realities of depression, and take you inside surprising leading-edge progress toward relief. 

About the aforementioned anger: Tonic will also focus on the challenging days ahead. Health has always been political, but now, more than ever, as the rights of women, people of color, disabled people, and those in the LGBTQ community have come under siege, we have a responsibility to focus our anger, and transform it into change. At Tonic, we won't hide our outrage at the global disparities in access to treatment, which, in the US, are threatening to only worsen. We'll keep watch on trans healthcare, reproductive rights, and the myriad ways climate change threatens our future. We'll give you advice for protecting yourself, physically and mentally, in this uncertain time. We'll work every day to sidestep complacency and shine a bright light on the injustices happening around us. 

Everyone is welcome here, and nothing is off limits—aside from fearmongering, body-shaming, and green smoothies. So settle in, text in your health questions​, and enjoy the ride.

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