Usually people go to see a doctor because they’re experiencing some symptom that they want to treat. According to Tammy Kohlschmidt, a certified clinical thermographer at Thermography for Health New York in New York City, that’s entirely the wrong approach. As she explained to WellBe, thermography offers a way to catch dysfunction before it becomes symptomatic, helping people to prevent rather than treat disease — which is key to maintaining your health.
Thermography, also known as digital infrared thermal imaging, is a screening method that uses camera images to measure your body temperature and blood flow, looking for patterns and variations that can screen for dysfunction and precursors to disease. These variations are very telling, because, as Kohlschmidt says, “your temperature does not lie.”
Thermography screenings look at all sorts of different parts of the body, as well as our different “flow systems” — lymphatic, digestive, hormonal, nervous, energy — looking for blockages, stagnation, and imbalances. The basis for the screening is tracking inflammation, which is the origin point for many disease processes. Thermography can be used to detect a wide range of issues, from TMJ to gum and sinus infections to liver distress to cancer and beyond, though Kohlschmidt is quick to point out that, when thermography detects them, they’re not diseases yet. Rather, thermography picks up the signs that a dysfunction is developing, that might in turn become a disease. As she says, “Oftentimes, our dysfunction starts years before we feel it.”
Because of the way the screening works, it’s also able to detect abnormalities and dysfunction before other tests. Kohlschmidt explains that thermography can pick up cancer cells when they’re about the size of a grain of rice, or around two years old, whereas a mammogram won’t pick it up for eight years. Thermography also differs from assessment tools like mammograms or ultrasounds in that it’s a functional test, which looks for the normal functioning of various regions of your body, rather than a structural test that looks for deformities (like a tumor). Though conventional medicine tends to encourage test like mammograms and ultrasounds — likely because they bring in a lot of money and fit in with the biopsy-diagnose-prescribe or perform surgery protocol of many hospitals — thermography brings in new information at an earlier stage, and offers different pathways in terms of treatment. It’s also radiation-free, non-invasive, and doesn’t touch you. (Note that thermography is not a replacement for mammograms and shouldn’t be solely used to diagnose breast cancer, according to the Food and Drug Administration.)
Watch our full interview with Kohlschmidt to learn about how thermography helps you understand what’s going on with your body, what to expect during a thermography appointment, and how to find qualified thermography professionals.