Bromhidrosis, Body Odour or B.O. occurs when resident skin bacteria get their hands (or comparable bacterial body parts) on proteins that are excreted when we sweat. The bacteria convert these proteins into a variety of pongy chemicals including propionic acid, which smells sour, and isovaleric acid, which has a cheesy odour. Other substances from food or the body’s own processes, can be released from the skin and also smell ugly.
A quick scrub in the shower is usually all that is required to banish body odour, however, sometimes body odour can be more persistent and may be a sign of ill health or a poor diet.
- Body odour can occur anywhere on the body.
Behind the scenes
The two major types of sweat glands are eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands located everwhere and are primarily concerned with cooling the body during exercise and hot weather. The apocrine glands are situated in armpits, feet, groin, genitals and behind the ears. These glands are more sensitive to emotions such as fear and stress, and the sweat from these areas has a stronger scent.
What causes it?
- Various proteins excreted in sweat is broken down into odiferous chemicals by bacteria that resides on the skin.
- Meat and animal fats, particularly dairy fat such as butter and cream are associated with body odour.
- Natural chemicals in certain foods are more inclined to exit via the skin, including garlic, asparagus, cumin, aged cheese, deli meats, onion, alcohol and fenugreek. Depending on the nose, these smells are either inviting or offensive.
- An overgrowth of the common yeast candida albicans can sometimes result in body odour.
- Non-smokers often complain of the smell of smokers.
- Sometimes an unusual body odour indicates an illness including untreated diabetes, kidney or liver disease.
- Time of great hormonal changes, particularly puberty can cause body odour.
- Some medications can contribute to body odour.
What To Do
- Drink 2 to 3 litres of fluid daily. Spring water is best.
- Try six weeks on a vegan diet. Animal protein and fat are the main smelly offenders.
- Avoid red meat, deep fried food, deli meats, milk products (except yoghurt), sugar and alcohol.
- Chlorophyll is nature’s deodoriser. Drink chlorophyll-rich green vegetable juice daily; mix several of the following in a base of green apple; parsley, alfalfa, cucumber, spinach, kale, beetroot tops and celery.
- Burdock, one of the blood purifying herbs mentioned below, can also be eaten as a vegetable, particularly in Japan where it is known as ‘gobo’.
- If you think you may have an overgrowth of candida albicans.
- At bedtime, wipe your body with a cloth saturated with lemon juice or vinegar (white or malt). Allow to dry before going to bed. Wash off in the shower in the morning. The reasoning behind this unusual bed-time ritual is that the acid from the lemon juice or vinegar changes the skin’s pH, thus inactivating the bacteria responsible for the odour.
- If anxiety is the reason you are sweating, take anxiety-relieving herbs including valerian, zizyphus, St John’s wort, passionflower and kava. The minerals magnesium and potassium are also helpful.
- Bach Flower Rescue Remedy will help if fear is prevalent.
- Traditional blood purifying herbs are indicated for body odour. Brew several of the following into a tea, and drink 2 to 3 cups daily, as part of your water rations. Burdock, red clover, echinacea, clivers, nettle, calendula and dandelion root.
- The tissue salt, Silicea, or the mineral silica helps excessive perspiration, particularly if you are cold and sweaty. Whereas the homoeopathic remedy, sulphur. suits the hot and sweaty individual. Take a dose of whichever is indicated each morning.
- Chlorophyll supplements help to deodorise from within. Choose from one or a combination of the following, available in tablet or powder form. Barley grass, spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass.
- Naturopathic advice is to recommend against antiperspirants as the body is designed to sweat, and the skin is our largest organ of elimination. As it is bacteria that is responsible for the odour, choose a deodorant with antibacterial properties such as colloidal silver or tea tree oil. Natural crystal deodorants made from potassium alum also work as a local antibacterial agent. Many people find them effective. They do contain aluminium, but there is no evidence this is absorbed into the body.
- Avoid clothing made from synthetics as this will trap sweat. Choose natural fibres – cotton, hemp, wool. There are sports fabrics designed to wick away body sweat. In all cases, wash clothing in hot water using bacteriocidal detergent, or one containing tea tree oil. Dry clothes out in the sunshine.
- Bathe frequently. Use soap and deodorants containing antiseptic essential oils and herbs including tea tree, lavender, rosemary, calendula or thyme.
- Wax or shave your armpits, the hair traps the smell.
- If your feet are particularly smelly, regularly pumice rough heels and areas of dead skin. This is where bacteria breed. Wipe the insides of your shoes with surgical spirit, and steer clear of plastics and synthetic textiles, except specially designed smell-free sportswear.
- If you are chronically constipated, a series of colonic irrigations may be useful.
- The apocrine sweat glands are governed by fear. If you are particularly anxious or fearful, explore avenues to reduce this distressing state. Learn and practice meditation or seek counselling.
- 4 drops of pine scotch – bactericidal, deodorant, refreshing and cleansing.
- 5 drops of cypress – antiperspirant, antiseptic, astringent, purifying and protective.
- 3 drops of lemongrass – antiperspirant, deodorant, astringent, antimicrobial, refreshing, penetrating and active.
- 2 drops of rosewood – antimicrobial, antibacterial, deodorant and fresh.
This blend can be made into a soap using a melt and pour soap base or with castile soap and used as a soft soap. For using as a body powder, blend with 125 g white clay or cornflour – put in a shaker and use accordingly.
At a glance
- Avoid meat and dairy (except yoghurt). Animal protein and fat are linked to body odour.
- Drink at least 2 litres of water daily.
- Drink a juice made from chlorophyll-rich herbs and vegetables, such as wheatgrass, parsley, spinach, kale, beet tops. Chlorophyll is nature’s deodorant.
- Take chlorophyll supplements such as barley grass, spirulina.
- If anxiety is the reason why you perspire, take kava, valerian, passionflower and zizyphus. Magnesium and potassium are also helpful.
- Take the following herbs as herbal tea or tincture; burdock, calendula, nettles, red clover, clivers, dandelion root.
- Before going to bed, wipe with a cloth saturated with either lemon juice or vinegar. This changes the skin’s pH, thus inactivating the pong-producing bacteria.
- Use deodorant containing antibacterial agents such as colloidal silver, tea tree oil or calendula.
- Wash regularly.
- Use natural fibres and wash clothes in hot water.
- If anxiety is the reason for excessive perspiration, take up meditation.