Using Thermography to Identify Stress in the Body

Research shows that stress contributes to 80 percent of all illnesses. Aside from causing other serious health problems, chronic stress can wear down the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to cancer and disease, significantly increase our risk for heart attack and stroke, disrupt our hormones and reproductive systems, affect our metabolism, create sleep deprivation that can change our blood and gut pH, and rewire our brain and nervous system. When the body’s natural reaction to stress is stuck in the “on” position, the healthy adrenaline and cortisol response turns against us causing all kinds of unintended negative consequences.

This chronic stress puts individuals at risk for developing depression, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, sugar cravings, fatty liver, brain fog, reduced bone density, hormone disruption, increasing symptoms of both PMS and peri-menopause, anxiety disorders, cancers, chronic fatigue and aches and pains.

In the practice of digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), or thermography, the inflammation expressed by chronic stress is evident. Inflammation or dysfunction shows as a temperature gradient out of the norm reflected on the surface of the skin. It shows as a hotter or colder range than the normal baseline. This information allows people to garner information about their bodies and be proactive in creating healthier bodies and healthier lifestyles.

Some proven strategies that help reduce stress, thereby reducing inflammation in the body, include meditation, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, listening to calming music, practicing breathing exercises, hypnosis, massage, guided imagery, emotional freedom technique/tapping, art therapy, acupuncture, journaling and progressive muscle relaxation technique. The use of a BEMER machine can improve micro-circulation and increases oxygen in the tissue, reducing inflammation.

Other helpful lifestyle changes to reduce stress include examining life’s priorities and learning to say “no”, participating in physical activity, eating right (lots of vegetable and limiting fat and sugar intake), fostering healthy friendships and getting plenty of sleep. It is also critical to learn to forgive ourselves and others when, on occasion, we can’t meet certain standards. Learn to accept help. Improve time management and practice positive thinking; think with gratitude. Professional counseling or psychotherapy is another option.

We may not be able to do much about some of the common external causes of stress such as financial problems, major life changes, trauma, commuting, being too busy, children and family, or internal causes of stress, for example, fears, uncertainty, caffeine, illnesses/ viruses and bacterium, poor diet, over and underuse of the body and sleep disorders, but we can do a lot for ourselves to improve our current situation by choosing to add into our lifestyle a few of these suggestions.

Susan Saari, LicAc, MAOM, is a certified health educator, acupuncturist and certified clinical thermographer. She practices at Metrowest Thermal Imaging, located at 25 Grant St., Waltham, and 364 Boston Turnpike Rd., Shrewsbury. For more information, call 781-899-2121 or visit

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