By PAUL MARYNIAK, GSN Executive Editor
When your overall health is an issue, there’s no such thing as too much information.
Jennifer Douglass is bringing another conduit to such knowledge with her new business, East Valley Thermography.
The Gilbert woman has forged partnerships with Healing Point Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine Clinic in Ahwatukee and On Being Well Naturopathic Medicine in Chandler to make thermography more accessible to area residents.
Those partners “offer a natural complement to one another, particularly for individuals seeking a more holistic or natural approach to their healthcare,” she said.
Thermography also is known as digital infrared thermal imaging, or DITI. A non-invasive, radiation-free diagnostic tool, “its main utility is to detect abnormal physiology. As inflammation is commonly at the root of most disease processes, thermography easily identifies these areas of the body where inflammation is present,” Douglass says on her website.
It also is a point of contention in the medical community, with some professionals deriding its claims and sometimes calling it “quackery” and others calling it a non-toxic approach to picking up early signs of cancer and other diseases long before they become a major problem.
The federal Food and Drug Administration has weighed into the battle, particularly where breast cancer diagnosis is concerned.
But Douglass is careful to underscore the fact that the FDA states thermography is no substitute for a mammogram.
What she does assert is that it can become an early-warning system in a way “because thermography provides a snapshot of the vascular, neurological and musculoskeletal systems, it has the ability to detect disease in its infancy and many years earlier than other forms of diagnostic imaging.”
And she’s passionate about thermography, noting “It is not a new diagnostic tool. It’s been around for about 30 years and very common in Europe. The U.S. is just very far behind other countries in terms of other alternative therapies.”
Thermology focuses on the physiology of a body while all other diagnostic tests focus on anatomy – which explains why thermology proponents say it can detect a potential problem before it begins to affect a person’s anatomy.
A volunteer coordinator for Hospice of the Valley, Douglass stumbled on thermography as a result of her own battle with breast cancer.
When she was diagnosed in 2014, she said, she was stunned.
“For a healthy person, it was a shocking diagnosis,” she recalled.
As she elaborates on her company’s website, “I don’t think most people ever really contemplate receiving that kind of news. What I can tell you is that it’s a very vulnerable place to be. With so much fear and uncertainty, I put my health in the hands of my healthcare professionals and followed their advice for surgery and X-rays followed by oral chemotherapy drugs.”
But she was also aware that the effects of radiation stay in the body and develop a cumulative effect so that for every CAT scan, MRI and radiation treatment, the danger of damage to cells and the DNA in those cells can lead to new cancer.
Because she needed to get annual screenings, she was concerned about those cumulative effects and began researching alternative methods of monitoring whether her cancer had returned.
“I was looking for ways to get my body into good health and try to eliminate as much radiation as possible,” she said.
“For the average 50-year old woman, cancer cells double in size every 90 days on average and thermography has the ability to detect pathology eight to 10 years before the same pathological change is seen through mammography,” Douglass says on her website, adding:
“Many women utilize breast thermography as an adjunctive or complementary tool to ultrasound and mammogram. Women with implants are also ideal candidates for thermography, as there is no compression of tissue involved.”
Douglass, who was trained at the American College of Clinical Thermography in Florida, said thermography has uses beyond its potential to pick up early signs of breast cancer that might then motivate a woman to seek a more comprehensive diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment.
“Diseases and conditions such as heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, thyroid conditions, spinal injuries and DVT are just a handful of the conditions easily identified through thermographic imaging,” she said.
That means both men and women could find a potential benefit in a thermographic screening, which Douglass does either for a half or all of a person’s body or for a more localized region, such as breasts, that might be of special concern to a person.
Once she takes the thermographs, she sends them to a physician who is trained in reading them.
“I am like the radiologist,” she explained. “I send the images to board-certified physicians who have received additional training in reading thermograms. Only one in four doctors makes it through the testing in learning to read them.”
The doctor then provides the client with a written report and the color images and it’s then up to the client to decide what, if anything, he or she wants to do next.
Though she is just getting her business off the ground, Douglass said she sees it as especially popular among millennials.
“They’re not as trusting of the medical establishment,” she said. “They’re shifting to getting to the root of problems and recognize that thermography can help.”
Information: evthermology.com or 602-730-1644