Green Armpits: Eco Beautiful Ways To Deal With BO
It’s a stinky subject, to be sure, but we are nothing if not intrepid in our approach to solving this very annoying problem. Who sweats, who doesn’t, who’s smelly, who isn’t: those are questions best left to the doctors and scientists. We are interested in figuring out what to do about it in the most practical and effective way, from an eco-beauty perspective.
Conventional wisdom suggests that perspiration is the cause of body odor. However, perspiration by itself is basically odorless, but it is the bacteria and odors coming from other sources that are the real culprits. Anaerobic bacteria, which flourish when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen, may well be the cause of your body odor. As the body’s metabolism goes to work, it gives off odors which is the body’s way of ridding itself of waste products. Any imbalances in metabolism will result in stronger odors.
Sweat glands (apocrine glands) under the arms secrete a substance that is the major non-food/drink related cause of body odor. This substance, which contains protein, carbohydrates, and lipids, often secreted in tense moments or emotional stress, is quickly attacked by bacteria, causing odor.
First off, get thee the right underarm protection.
Deodorants help destroy bacteria and disguise odors. But look out for potentially toxic, irritating ingredients. Avoid aluminum (linked to Alzheimer’s disease) which can potentially leach into the breasts and lymph glands, and products with emulsifiers (known to clog pores). Consider products with tea tree oil, known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Or use a deodorant stone, made from mineral salts. Antiperspirants reduce bacteria-feeding moisture — but they block sweat glands and contain aluminum chlorohydrate. Not so good!
These are some of the brands we’ve found at to be the safest (most non-toxic), yet effective:
Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal
Lafe’s Natural and Organic
Kiss My Face Liquid Rock
Floral Active by Terra Naturals
In addition to your deodorant, try using a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide (3%) that can be picked up at the pharmacy. Put a teaspoonful in a glass of water and wash the underarm. If that doesn’t work, increase the amount of peroxide.
Make it a point to use pH-balancedsoaps and skincare products to maintain the protective acid mantle of your skin.
There are certain lifestyle changes to make if you have a constant problem with body odor:
Clothing is an area many people overlook. Loose fitting clothes allow the body to breathe better than tight clothes. The perspiration escapes and doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. The type of fabric is also very important. Synthetic fabrics for shoes and clothes don’t allow the body to breathe, so use all natural fabrics. (Bamboo is naturally anti-microbial)
Tobacco use is a major cause of body odor. Not only does it come back through your lungs, but it comes through the skin. It probably mixes with other elements of your body’s chemistry to create a distinct odor. If you stop smoking it may take several weeks before you notice any changes in your body odor.
Dietary changes are also very important in eliminating various sources of odor. Certain foods, such as meat, onions, garlic, exotic spices, and drinks such as coffee and alcohol can lead to body odor. Try eliminating these from your diet for a week or two and see if this makes a difference.
Maintain a balanced diet. Overloading or cutting back in vital areas can throw your system off and aggravate glandular secretions. Adapt a diet of 30 percent lean protein, to help the liver develop a sufficient amount of enzymes for the detox process; 30 percent essential fats (such as flaxseed oil, nuts, avocados and seeds), to lubricate the GI tract; and 40 percent slow-acting/high-fiber carbohydrates to “clean the pipes” as it were.
Cut down on dairy products and sugar. Protect your gastro tract from yeast-enhancing sugar. Look out for hidden sugars in everything from mayonnaise and soups to nondairy creamers and frozen, pre-packaged meals.
Detoxify your system regularly. It’s the only way to keep your liver and gastrointestinal tract functioning at optimal levels — and potential body odor at bay. Try taking steam baths or saunas frequently as part of an overall detoxification program.
Include friendly flora and a fiber supplement in your regimen. Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria can reestablish the proper pH balance in your digestive system. Adding a fiber supplement will gently whisk away waste buildup in the intestinal tract.
Drink 10-12 glasses of water daily. Flush toxins from your body and keep metabolic processes humming along at peak levels.
Sweating As we mentioned above, excessive sweating may have underlying causes, so it is wise to be diagnosed to see if you have a medical problem. Women going through menopause and perimenopause may experience bouts of sweating accompanied by terrible body odor. The sweating may occur even when the woman is not warm (otherwise known as a hotflash).
Caffeine and medications may also be the cause of your sweating. Reduce your caffeine intake and note if there are changes when you stop taking medication.
Chlorophyll One or two chlorophyll tablets or chlorophyll liquid taken with each meal may also help, as chlorophyll is a great deodorizer.
Magnesium Take magnesium supplements or augment your diet with food sources high in this important mineral. Between 200-500 mg of magnesium have been recommended. You will have to try different doses until you get the amounts that are right for your body.
Vitamins A high-potency B vitamin (50 mg or higher), when combined with magnesium, will help reduce certain secretions that can be a cause of odor. Make sure you are getting 100 mg of PABA and 100 mg of B6.
Zinc If you have body odor, try taking zinc tablets. Zinc, plus magnesium, will help balance your body’s metabolism and reduce the cause of bad odor. Studies have shown that taking 30 to 50 mg daily will dramatically reduce certain body odors, although you may need less. Zinc may also reduce perspiration and sweaty feet. However, it is wise to go above 15 mg only with a doctor’s supervision as zinc may interfere with the absorption of copper, another essential trace mineral.
Apple cider vinegar eliminates under arm body odor when used in place of deodorant because it reduces the pH of the skin. Bacteria can’t live in areas with low pH. Try bathing in an apple cider vinegar wash twice a week. Pour 2 cups of apple vinegar in your bath. The vinegar smell is gone in minutes and you should be smell-free all day.
Parsley/alfalfa Chewing parsley, alfalfa and other leafy greens will help neutralize body odor, probably because of the deodorizing effect of the chlorophyll.
Sage Herbalists suggest drinking a cup of sage tea daily to reduce sweat gland activity. This is especially true for those who perspire excessively due to tension. Use 11/2 teaspoonsful of dried sage or two tea bags in one cup of water; steep for ten minutes; drink in small doses throughout the day.
• Fresh sage leaves blended with tomato juice has been found to be very effective against BO.
Wheat grass Take 500 mg of wheat grass daily on an empty stomach and wash down with a glass of water. The chlorophyll will dramatically reduce body odor.
Silicea. Homeopaths recommend dissolving three 6X tablets of the tissue salt Silicea under the tongue each morning and evening to knock out odor. Can be found at natural food grocers and pharmacies with alternative medicine sections.
All in all, we hope the next time you conduct a “smell test” on yourself, that you pass with flying colors – at least one in particular: Green!!