About Our Guest- Caitlin Wells Ignatowski- Using Thermography For Your Preventative Health Care

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski is a Certified Thermography Technician. Her main lab is at Blatman Health and Wellness Center in Blue Ash, Ohio and has traveled all over to educate about Thermography and provide screenings.

Caitlin’s father passed away in 2010 from oropharyngeal cancer and it prompted her to start her own business and bring forward the understanding of our bodies through Thermography.

This state of the art technology you’ll hear about today, gives you a way to be proactive about your health, actionable information to empower you on your health journey, and could be a key piece that helps you attain and maintain true vibrancy in your life..

Full Podcast Transcription

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 00:00

So when we take these specialized cameras and use it for medical purposes, you know, we are emitting infrared heat all the time. We’re energetic beings, we have all kinds of things going on at times. And so your body is giving you that information. And so now we have the infrared spectrum that we can see, you know with the camera, not just our own eyes to really look inside the body and see what it’s telling.

Diva Nagula 01:54

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of From Doctor to Patient. Today I’m joined with Caitlin Wells Ignatowski, who is a certified thermography technician. Her main lab is at Blackmon Health and Wellness Center in Blue Ash, Ohio. She’s traveled all over the world to educate about thermography and provide screenings, her father passed away in 2010, from oral pharyngeal cancer. And it prompted her to start her own business and bring forward the understanding of our bodies though thermography this state of the art technology that you’ll hear about shortly, gives you a way to be proactive about your health, actionable information to empower you on your health journey, and could be a key piece that helps you attain and maintain true vibrancy in your life. Caitlin, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 03:01 I’m doing great. Thanks for having me

Diva Nagula 03:04

You know, I have to be honest with you is that as a physician as a person in the medical field, you know, I’ve heard of thermography. But as a doctor, I’ve never utilized it and seen it in action. So I’m going to be very blind during this conversation. So let’s just go ahead and start off the bat is what is thermography?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 03:24

Absolutely. So thermography is an infrared screening of the body. And what we’re looking at is the physiological, so we’re looking at heat and blood flow in the body. And then if you had something like the anatomical screenings of a mammogram and MRI, a ultrasound, you’re looking at the anatomical side of the body. So you’re looking for lumps and bumps. So what we do is we use state of the art infrared cameras, and I will take images of the body and will then send that imaging session to a team of clinical thermolysis. And these people have years of experience in oncology, and then incorporating thermography into that equation to help with the diagnosis of breast cancer. And we also do full body screenings as well. So we’ll take those images and they’ll do two things. One, they’ll look at your vascular system with their own eyes. And over a course of time research has shown that there’s certain patterning of your vascular system that can indicate that there’s something going on. So that’s the first clue. The second thing that they’ll do is actually do computer analysis. And they’ll do what’s called a bilateral comparison where they’ll take measurements from one side of the body to the other. All of those measurements are based on a threshold of one degree Celsius. So that’s our base point. When you have temperatures on one side of the body that are higher than the other, when your body is supposed to be in that state of health, you’re going to be about the same on both sides. So they’ll take a measurement, and then that will determine that there may be heat above the threshold or below the threshold. And the higher numbers that you see above the threshold may indicate that there’s more of a process called angiogenesis, which is where there’s blood vessel formation and heat that’s coming from a tumor, perhaps, that’s making itself a living part of your body. And it’s drawing nutrients to itself through your bloodstream. So by doing the computer analysis of the images, and the visual analysis, they’ll write a full report, and they’ll make recommendations for further treatment. A lot of people will use thermography, not only if they feel like they have a lump, or they feel like there might be something going on. But what we like to focus on is breast cancer prevention, and also overall wellness. So I like to see people come in for thermography screenings. And these start not in our 40s. But we would want to start them as soon as you have an adult body, that an individual has gone through puberty, and that we can then see how their vascular system is going to be as an adult, because it’s not supposed to change. And so we use this to track these measurements that are taken over the course of time to see how the healing of those treatments and wellness journeys are going. And also track things that might show up as inflammation or heat. And as people make lifestyle changes, we start to often see a diminishment in that heat.

Diva Nagula 06:50

That’s fascinating. So I mean, I guess, when we’re talking about breast cancer, and if we do indeed have a genetic component with the bracket gene, and you can track, you can do this sort of tracking at a very early age. And if there’s any discrepancies or changes from one side or the other, or from baseline, you can then determine the next course of action, as in whether or not it can be a complete mastectomy, as a prophylaxis, or you know, even before the cancer actually takes place and sits in the body.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 07:23

Exactly. So it seems to give you the physiological side of the heat and blood flow side and combine that with your other anatomical screenings. And now you have a much more well rounded view of what’s going on in your body so that you can make those steps forward and make your decisions based on as much information as you can possibly have.

Diva Nagula 07:41
So really, I mean, it’s an accessory tool, it’s not a tool that you can use on its own, Correct?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 07:50

Correct. No cancer screening that we have today is 100% accurate at assessing cancer. So we use a multi modal approach, we use all of the tools at our disposal, and all of the technology at our disposal to get the information. So thermography is FDA cleared to be an adjunctive screening tool to an anatomical screening. And so just like we use it as taking a temperature with a thermometer, we can tell you that there is excess heat there, and then you’re going to need to go to your medical professionals to map out, you know, what is causing that heat?

Diva Nagula 08:27

Sure. So there’s very interesting things that this technology can be applicable to because, you know, as you said that it can indicate angiogenesis, which in a lot of cases, when there is angiogenesis, we’re talking about cellular formation and turnover that goes along with cancer. But angiogenesis could be also occurring in patients who’ve had vascular injury, right? You know, and so it takes an expert like yourself, along with physicians, who can distinguish the two and can utilize this technology and combine it with other mapping schemes utilizing like radiography to clearly determine what the situation is for that particular patient. So how long has this technology been around? Is this going to become something not necessarily a gold standard, but something that is going to be utilized on a regular basis to assist with the diagnosis of breast cancer?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 09:27

Absolutely. So the idea of thermography and using some type of mechanism to search for heat and inflammation, the body goes back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, right? And what he did was, of course, they didn’t have all the technology we have today. So back then what they did was they actually rubbed wet mud onto the skin and a thin layer and they observed how it dried. And what would happen was it would dry faster in the places that had more heat And more inflammation. So they use that in their diagnosis even back that. So fast forward to the military has always use thermography. NASA uses thermography, I just read an article recently where they actually put this thermography camera on a telescope on the back of a 747. And we’re able to view that we have water that’s on the moon. So science, even in industrial situations, they use this to assess. So when we take these specialized cameras and use it for medical purposes, you know, we are emitting infrared heat all the time, we’re energetic beings, we have all kinds of things going on at times. And so your body is giving you that information. And so now we have the infrared spectrum that we can see, you know, with the camera, and not just our own eyes to really look inside the body and see what it’s telling us.

Diva Nagula 10:58

What’s fascinating. And obviously, we’re talking about breast cancer, but are there any other applications for the use of thermography for a person’s health, that may be something related to a chronic disease or another organ dysfunction? Other than breasts?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 11:15

Yes, it’s really fascinating to see that in thermography, we can also see the lymphatic system and also lymphatic drainage from perhaps infection of the mouth, for instance, a lot of research is suggesting that. And a lot of naturopathic physicians and physicians I know are actually drawing the parallels between infections in the mouth and, and dental health and the health of the rest of our bodies. So I saw thermographic screening where a woman actually had an infection very severely in her mouth, and it was actually draining down the side of her face in the thermography, you could see that it actually had created its own lymphatic drainage channels down into her breast tissue. Oh, wow. So you start to understand that if you’re seeing these drainage patterns, you’re seeing blocked lymph, we understand that we need to have our lymph flowing really smoothly through our bodies to be eliminating properly. And so when you can see that there’s things going on inflammation, lymphatic congestion in the upper body, that can give you some really great information. And then you can start doing protocols to really help with that, because it’s really imperative to have that all functioning well.

Diva Nagula 12:35

Yeah, it actually kind of comes to it comes to mind, how our bodies require a full functioning, elimination process systems, whether it’s through our kidneys through our liver, you know, those are typical mechanisms that we use to detoxify our bodies. But what we don’t really talk about is the lymphatic system. And honestly, yeah, this is huge, because there’s not really a mechanism that we can determine whether the lymphatic function is compromised or not. And if this is compromised in any fashion, shape or form, it can actually contribute to the increase in toxic burden an individual may carry. And so you know, you may be able to jumpstart detoxification systems. But if you’re not able to jumpstart the lymphatic systems, you’re not gonna be able to fully detoxify the body in which in which the patient needs. So it’s really unique. It makes a lot of sense. And that makes sense to me. Why are you working with a lot of people in the naturopathic field and functional medicine field, because this this tool is quite handy. And lymphatic channels is is so important to help the detoxification and the purification, it really is our body’s sewer system. So we need to purify this and open these channels up as quickly and easily as possible. So that’s, that’s quite interesting. I mean, myself, and it’s really unique because I wish I had this tool. Back when I was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkins lymphoma. And lymphoma is a is a cancer of the lymphatic system. So yeah, I mean, good lord. I mean, I’m just thinking out loud here. I mean, all those lymph nodes that were enlarged and were tumorous. I mean, they probably weren’t able to eliminate properly. So it was contributing to the toxic burden that I was already that already had.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 14:24

Yes. So when you are able to see these things, with your own eyes, it’s very colorful, and you’re seeing these images that we get them in black and white, but we also see the color and the color palette of your body and the different patterns it’s emitting. And so it’s actually quite wonderful. It’s a very unique way to view your body. And it is empowering when I’ve had clients who have come in and they had say, a focal point and just one of their breasts that was much higher in temperature. And one of my clients had been doing incredible things with her lifestyle. And she had cut out everything except on the weekend, she allowed herself her cup of coffee. And she did eat sugar on the weekends. That was her thing. So she’d cut everything else out. She was doing wonderful things. But she said, You know what, after this thermography screening, I’m going to do this for six months, I’m cutting it out all the coffee and all the sugar. And she said, I’m doing it, I believe you. And so she did. And so she scheduled that thermography session, she came back in. And when she got her report back, the doctors had noted and compared her to screenings, which is actually the best thing you can do. Because now you’ve got data points, now you’ve got comparison, and then you really have good information, she ended up taking that focal point of hyperthermia down through lifestyle changes by half a degree, which is huge. So it was just so exciting to her that after all her hard work. And the giving up and the really sacrificing for your health and taking those significant lifestyle changes, which feel tough, she did it. And so it was a wonderful moment for her where she really saw that her work was effective. So that’s incredibly wonderful.

Diva Nagula 16:20

It’s huge. I mean, it really shows you objective data, you know, and sometimes, certain tools specifically bloodwork and markers aren’t that sensitive, you know, that could be within the normal range. But you know, you really may not be normal for your own self, you know, it could be elevated, but within that normal window, but it’s still indicative of inflammation. However, if you start looking at thermography, as a tool to see where the inflammation lies in the body, make lifestyle changes, and then have serial thermography scans to see where you’re at. It’s just an awesome tool to really kind of follow the stages of inflammation.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 17:02

Absolutely. It’s really exciting. And there have been many studies done on thermography. Over the years, I think there was a period of time where I mean, it’s been accepted by the FDA. And it’s been accepted in a lot of different communities. I think that in the 80s, there was a doctor, Dr. William Hobbins, who had been doing a lot of research and work in mammogram, and mammography. And then he ended up switching to spend most of the rest of his his career really bringing thermography forward and doing a lot of research. And so he was one of the ones who created a board. And this is actually one of the physician that I work with mainly actually turns out to have been personal friends. And on this board in the 80s and synchronistically. I ended up working with this person in Cincinnati, but he told me that they were the ones – and I learned in school about this, that they were the ones who set forth the standards that we have today for accurate screening, and the procedures that we follow. So the reason that we keep the room, a very consistent low temperature is to make sure that we’re only seeing heat emitted from the body itself. And then we also have protocols to follow about, you know, not compressing the tissue of the body, not having any lotions or deodorants on the skin to block that heat, pretty sensible things. But they’re the reason that we have the standards for thermography that we have today. And so the company I work with, does incredible things to with continuing research. And so I think as time goes on, we need to be advocates of this. We need people doing the work and seeing how it’s working and progressing it forward. Because it’s an incredible tool. And at this moment, it’s not part of the standard of care, like so many many amazing things. So it just requires us to be talking about it and doing it and you know, making it something that’s affordable and available to everybody.

Diva Nagula 19:13

That’s wonderfully said. One thing I wanted to ask you was, is this becoming the more mainstream now because so many people are switching gears, you know, toward the avenue of functional medicine, integrative medicine, naturopathic medicine, you know, I see a few of these practitioners, myself, and I practice integrative medicine myself, right, are more and more people ordering these, you know, testing tools to determine, you know, if there are hot spots in the body, like, I mean, I would imagine, like, screening for thyroid disease is something that you can actually pick up pretty quickly for from thermography. In addition to that, obviously, the breast cancers, but inflammation in general, I mean, that’s, we’re all plagued with inflammation. And that’s what it’s all about. That’s what leads to chronic diseases and cancers. So, are you seeing a more uptick in people ordering? thermography?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 21:11

Absolutely. There are lots of people that are choosing to add thermography to their wellness plan, because it does give you that wonderful data. We have lots of people, like you said we’re coming in to, we can see diffuse heat, often over the thyroid or little spots of heat, which might indicate and they’ll recommend that you go have some thyroid work done to determine what’s going on. We’ll also often see heat, or cold perhaps in the carotid arteries. That can be vascular issues too. You can see nerve impingement through the body, perhaps gait conditions that might be diagnosed by your doctor or chiropractor. There’s many, many things. Some people when they have autoimmune issues present with cold extremities. And so that’s an interesting little clue there. So when you’re working with your naturopathic physicians or integrative doctors, they can use all of those things as clues to help further you know, the plan.

Diva Nagula 22:29

In that case where you’re looking for cold extremities or Raynaud’s phenomenon. Is that something where you’re going to see temperature changes below the threshold? Is that what you’re looking for?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 22:41 Yeah.

Diva Nagula 22:42 Okay, that makes sense.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 22:43

Not only are we seeing heat in the body, but we might be actually seeing places where there’s too much. There’s, there’s too little heat there, which might indicate that there’s lack of blood flow flow, or whatever reason.

Diva Nagula 22:56

Any other applications of thermography that we haven’t discussed yet? But I’m just curious. I mean, what about obviously vascular, so is it sensitive enough to determine any issues with the heart.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 23:07

would be more overall in the body, because it’s a surface screening, we’re not actually seeing anything below skin. So we wouldn’t see anything below bone, we don’t see anything fairly deep. I think the the benefit of it is the vascular system in places of the body where it’s more surface is going to give you a lot more. Now we do have screenings that include the abdomen, and sometimes you can see patterns of heat that might suggest that there’s things going on with various organs. And so again, you know, you would use thermography, to maybe start to pinpoint maybe where you should start to look, if you’re if you’re wondering. And that could be really, really great information, too. And like I said earlier, I think that the dental aspect, understanding that there might be some things going on in the mouth that you weren’t aware of, and then how that can impact your health as well is really key.

Diva Nagula 24:04

And I think this is what’s really important is this is not to be used in lieu of traditional diagnostic tools, markers and scans is just simply used as an adjunct. But it’s a very important piece of the puzzle and it’s utilization can provide a lot more information than just a simple X ray ultrasound or any other radiograph can provide.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 24:27

Absolutely. So as I’ve been saying, we want to make sure that you’re using all tools at your disposal and not just sticking with one thing. So there are some alternatively minded clients who say that they don’t want to have the radiation exposure. So we would say that at least have thermography and then as needed, you know, definitely and have further screenings as indicated and don’t rely on one thing to get all the information. It’s just not possible.

Diva Nagula 24:54
Right. Does insurance cover this?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 24:58

At this point, it’s not covered by most insurances in the United States. There have been some patients who verified it, and they actually paid through their HSA. But I always recommend people check with their HSA before they try. And then I also have some partnerships with different organizations that if someone is going through a cancer treatment, and they need some funding, there’s possibilities for us to help them with that.

Diva Nagula 25:29
Perfect. And most hospitals do carry thermography or are there specific institutions, or centers that have thermography onboard?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 25:39

I have not seen it any hospitals. I hope to see it in the future. But we do a standalone. The company I work with is a wonderful organization. It’s called Breast Thermography. International. We also have locations all around the United States. So you can check for that. And you might have a screening center very close. And I’m located in Blue Ash, which is in Cincinnati, Ohio. And so we provide screenings, a Dr. Blattman who I work with has been providing thermography for 20 years here.

Diva Nagula 26:14
Yeah, fantastic. And lastly, if people want to find more information about thermography, or about yourself, where How can they find you online?

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 26:25

I am online, I’m on Facebook, you can find my Facebook page. It’s Caitlin Wells CTT. That’s my maiden name. And I’ve most recently gotten married in the last year. So I’m transitioning. So you’ll always find me as Caitlin Wells. And then Ignatowski is there too. I have a website. So you can visit me at my website. It’s healthyimageholistic.com. There, you’ll find information about thermography and all the services that we offer as well. And I’m on Instagram, I’m on LinkedIn. So you’ll find me if you Google my name, I’m around.

Diva Nagula 27:04

Well, thank you, Caitlin, for all the information. This is fascinating information. I had no idea the extensive utilization of this specific technology so I’m really interested in I’m going to try and look for to see where it’s around me so I can go and take a look in have it performed on myself.

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 27:21
Absolutely. And after all of this craziness in the world is over perhaps we can meet and I can travel to you because I have a portable little camera.

Diva Nagula 27:34 Thank you so much!

Caitlin Wells Ignatowski 27:35 Thank you!