Armpit odor: not the loveliest of subjects, but one that many of us ladies deal with on a regular basis. We perspire and sometimes (when we forget our maximum strength deo) we end up smelling a little less “rosy” than we’d like. It’s normal…or is it? We already know that we sweat to eliminate toxins and aid in cooling the body. But, why do we sometimes experience “B.O?”
There are two kinds of sweat glands in the human body:
- Eccrine glands – a type of simple sweat gland that is located in almost all areas where there is skin. They produce sweat that reaches the skin’s surface via coiled ducts (tubes). When sweat evaporates from the skin the body is cooled. Eccrine glands are responsible for regulating our body’s temperature.
- Apocrine glands – these glands are found in the breasts, genital area, eyelids, armpits and ear. In the breasts they secrete fat droplets into breast milk. In the ear they help form earwax. Apocrine glands in skin and the eyelids are sweat glands.
Most of the apocrine glands in the skin are located in the groin, armpits and around the nipples of the breast. Apocrine glands in the skin usually have an odor; they are scent glands. Most axillary, or armpit, sweat is odorless, and comes from the eccrine glands. The small amount of apocrine secretion in the sweat, however, causes the problem. Most medical sources will agree that apocrine sweat is odorless, but develops a scent when broken down and mixed with bacteria in on the skin. This smell is mostly due to a chemical (3-methyl-2-hexenoic acid) that the bacteria release when combined with sweat.
Experts say that pheromones subconsciously influence how we react to each other; one human may find another sexually attractive because the smell of their pheromones is attractive to him/her. The apocrine glands are mainly responsible for body odor because the sweat they produce is high in protein which bacteria can break down easily. The eccrine glands produce sweat which is high in salt, making it harder for bacteria to break down the protein. In other words, a lot of our B.O. (body odor) comes from the sweat produced by our apocrine glands.
Sweating is good for you! It is a natural process that helps the body eliminate toxins and aids in temperature regulation. Don’t believe it? Read more on the benefits of sweating here. Treatments, injections (Botox in the underarm area) and products (synthetic antiperspirants) that focus on preventing sweating should be avoided in order to maintain proper balance and health. Your underarms, or armpits, have several important glands that enable them to release internal toxins while sweating. By hindering our ability to sweat under our arms, we are preventing natural detoxification process that could potentially be harmful to our overall health. This is especially true if we are not taking good care of ourselves with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Some experts also make the argument that body odor, in general, is made worse through improper diet. Therefore, there is the theory that we could decrease our need for deodorant by cleaning up our act from the inside out: eliminating toxic ingredients, manufactured and processed food, and limiting our intake of red meat. While this theory is lacking in medical documentation, it’s worth a try and will make a nice improvement in our skin as a bonus!
In addition to a healthy diet, what are the best ways to prevent or correct body odor without resorting to synthetic antiperspirants that contain heavy metals and other potentially harmful ingredients?
Here are some easy steps to take:
Keep your armpits clean by washing them regularly with a gentle, anti-bacterial soap. This will keep the number of bacteria low, resulting in less body odor.
Supplement with greens. They contain chlorophyll and other phytonutrients that cleanse you from the inside out. Some of the best foods for that include parsley, cilantro, celery and all mint species. The aromatic herbs are also excellent: sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and so on.
Use a natural deodorant. Here’s a list we found of nine natural deodorant brands that are certainly worth a try!
1.Dr. Hauschka ($23)
4.Aubrey Organics ($8.25)
5.Bubble & Bee ($8.95)
8.Burt’s Bees ($8)
Avoid potentially harmful ingredients and claims in deodorant products, such as:
- Aluminum compounds
- Aerosol products
- Unregulated claims like “natural” (most claims aren’t regulated)
- Antibacterials like triclosan
- Synthetic fragrance (which can contain hormone disruptors, usually on labels as “fragrance”)
- Petrochemicals like propylene glycol (PEG)