Don’t be the Smelly Kid!
Under arm odor is probably recognized as a common problem thanks to commercials with all sorts of deodorants, antiperspirants, body washes and powders. However, odors can emanate from many areas of the body including feet, groin, vaginal and rectal area.
Your skin has two main types of sweat glands: eccrine glands and apocrine glands.
Eccrine glands cover most of the body and produce salty water to help keep you cool when you sweat. Apocrine glands are in areas primarily with a lot hair follicles, such as your armpits and groin. While sweat itself is virtually odorless, bacteria use it as a breeding ground and multiply rapidly. What you smell is the products related to bacteria breakdown of keratin protein on the surface of your skin.
Apocrine glands secrete an oily fluid with proteins, lipids and steroid hormones that is odorless. The sweat travels up the hair follicle to reach the skin and commonly occurring bacteria in the area eat the fatty sweat molecules, which causes it to smell a lot. Apocrine glands don't go into action until puberty and hormonal stimulation begins. These glands also kick into high gear every time emotional stress/anxiety occurs. In fact, the more you experience emotional stress, the more your apocrine glands contract and release sweat increasing body odor.
Lots of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription can cause excessive sweating and body odor. Medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, NSAID’s (motrin etc) Naproxen, anti-depressants, (Paxil,Prozac, Effexor, Lexapro, Cymbalta etc), and diet pills have been shown to cause extra sweatiness. If you start a new medication and experience excessive sweating or odor…talk to your pharmacist!
Diet can also be factor.
Excess sugar, even in the form of fruit, fruit juices and alcohol (particularly wine and beer) can promote an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria in the armpits, groin, vaginal tract, under the breasts and rectal area causing odor. Not to mention that the by-product of all that yeast in your bowels is gas producing a whole other range of odor issues!
Too much fiber in your diet can cause stinky gas, but not enough fiber can make you constipated, which not only adds to the flatulence issues but can also affect your overall body odor. In people with significant constipation, those who don’t have a bowel movement for more than a few days, toxins released by the digestive system may seep through the pores, giving you what's affectionately known as "Poopy body odor."
Everyone knows that foods like onions, garlic, curry, and other strong spices can make your sweat pretty fragrant, but too many French fries can also cause you to be smelly too. The oils in fried and baked goods can quickly become rancid, causing poor digestion and consequently body odor.
The Basics to being less smelly:
- Start with good hygiene and try to bathe at least once day.
- Green Food Deodorizers: Parsley, cilantro and chlorophyll work wonders in neutralizing body odors from the inside. Therefore eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables which are rich in chlorophyll, and have a powerful deodorizing effect on the body. Powdered green foods are sold in most health-food stores and can be added to beverages or smoothies for convenience. Supplements containing chlorophyll, barley grass, spirulina and chlorella have the unique ability of binding to various odor causing compounds in the body. These compounds are then neutralized and removed from the body. Chlorophyll has been used as a means to control not just body odor, but breath and foot odor as well. It was first used in the 1950’s for colostomy and ileostomy patients to control fecal odor.
- Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial / antiseptic which can kill bacteria and fungi present on the surface of skin. Desert Essence makes it in different forms oil, soap, ointment, skin pads which can be used topically to reduce odor. You can also add a few drops of Tea Tree into a few ounces of water and spray on your feet and the inside of your shoes to help prevent stinky feet. Tea tree ointment can be used topically in the groin or vaginal area daily to stay fresh. Tea tree skin pads can be used to clean under arms before applying natural deodorants. There are many other antiseptic oils such as lavender and thieves oil too.
- Detoxify yourself: Drink a gentle detox tea or take detox capsules. They typically contain herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, red clover, sarsaparilla, burdock, hibiscus, fenugreek, and ginger, which help improve liver and kidney function and remove toxins from the body.
- Lower your pH levels. Bacteria need high levels of pH to survive. Witch Hazel topically lowers skin’s PH and tightens pores. In a pinch lemon or vinegar also lowers pH and can be used to get rid of your body smell. Baking soda and cornstarch powder absorbs sweat and also kills bacteria apart from acting as a natural deodorant. (Eating greens as mentioned above also lowers pH)
- Moisturize skin with Coconut Oil. Researchers since the 1960s have known about the antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties of the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil. Research has shown that microorganisms that are inactivated include bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses.
Bottom line…you don’t want to be the person that clears a room or people try to politely back away from. If chronic odor continues after trying some of these suggestions you may have a health problem or taking a medication that needs to be addressed.
There are numerous other natural remedies to help BO issues and there is no one size fits all, so if you feel your odor issue is better, but need additional options, perhaps it is time to see your Naturopath. In-office and telephone appointments are available at The Tree of Life Wellness Center, Inc. call 508-336-4242 for more information.
Jane Jansen Naturopath Tree of Life Wellness Center
Host Holistic Healthline Radio