Genetics, diet, poor hygiene, hormonal changes and certain medical conditions can exacerbate body odour making it worse. Maintaining personal hygiene is the key to understanding the cause and how to combat it naturally. We explore body odour and look at a few natural solutions that will leave you smelling good in no time!
What is body odour? Let’s talk smells
We have between two to four million sweat glands covering our bodies. What these glands secrete and how it interacts with bacteria is largely responsible for body odour. Body odour can also be known as bromhidrosis. This is the smell that emanates from the body due to the breakdown of sweat by bacteria on the skin’s surface. While sweat itself is essentially odourless, when bacteria interacts with it, it produces a distinct smell that we associate with body odour.
The body has two main types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine glands. Eccrine glands are located throughout the skin but are mostly found on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and forehead. Eccrine glands play a crucial role in regulating body temperature. These glands are known for their role in thermoregulation, which is the body’s way of cooling us down.
When the body gets too hot due to physical activity, exposure to high temperatures, or emotional stress, the eccrine glands are activated to produce sweat. The sweat produced by eccrine glands helps to cool down the body by evaporating from the skin’s surface. As the sweat evaporates, it takes away heat energy. This process helps prevent overheating and maintains a constant core temperature.
Apocrine glands, on the other hand, are richly located in the armpits, groin, and breast areas. They are named apocrine glands due to their unique mode of secretion. Unlike eccrine glands, apocrine glands secrete a thicker and milkier substance. It contains lipids and proteins, which are odourless. However, when bacteria on the skin breaks them down, they produce a distinct smell.
The apocrine glands have a coiled structure and release their secretions into hair follicles rather than the surface of the skin, making thicker and stickier sweat. It also contains pheromones, which are chemical signals that can influence the behaviour of other people. Apocrine glands become particularly active during puberty (this is why body odour tends to become more noticeable during adolescence).
Why do certain people have body odour?
One of the leading causes of body odour is the secretion from apocrine glands. Poor personal hygiene is one of the major contributing factors. When individuals don’t regularly wash or change their clothes, bacteria can accumulate and thrive, causing body odour. Wearing tight or synthetic clothing can trap sweat and bacteria against the skin making it worse.
Diet is also a factor. Certain aromatic foods such as onions, garlic, and spicy dishes contain volatile compounds that are released through sweat. Alcohol and some medications also contribute to body odour in a similar way.
The intensity of the smell can vary from person to person due to genetic and environmental factors. Genetics plays a significant role in determining the number of sweat glands and the composition of sweat, which can influence the odour in some individuals. They may have overactive apocrine glands, or they may have a specific type of bacteria on their skin that produce more intense odours.
Who is likely to experience body odour?
Body odour affects anyone and everyone regardless of age or gender. However, people who naturally have more active sweat glands, such as teenagers going through puberty or those with hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating beyond what is necessary to regulate body temperature), might be more prone to experiencing body odour.
Also, people who engage in intense physical activities or who have inactive lifestyles may experience heightened body odour. These groups of people may be more prone as well:
- Adolescents experiencing puberty: During puberty, hormonal changes can lead to increased activity of sweat glands, especially the apocrine glands found in the underarm and groin areas. This surge in sweat production can contribute to body odour.
- Overweight individuals: Excess weight can lead to more skin folds, providing environments where sweat and bacteria can accumulate, leading to a higher likelihood of body odour.
- People with certain medical conditions: Conditions such as hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), diabetes, thyroid disorders, and certain metabolic disorders are contributing factors.
- Stress and anxiety sufferers: Emotional stress and anxiety can stimulate the body to produce more sweat, particularly from the apocrine glands, resulting in body odour.
- People with poor hygiene practices: Inadequate or infrequent bathing can allow sweat, bacteria, and dead skin cells to build up on the skin’s surface.
- Individuals with certain dietary habits: Diets rich in aromatic foods like garlic, onions, and spicy dishes can lead to an increased release of strong-smelling compounds through sweat.
- Smokers: Tobacco use can contribute to a distinct odour that mixes with body odour, resulting in a more noticeable smells.
- People in hot and humid environments: Warm and humid climates can cause excessive sweating, providing an environment where bacteria. Individuals with certain genetic predispositions: Genetics can influence the number and activity of sweat glands and sweat composition.
Is the cause of the body odour internal or external?
Did you know that when specific organs are not functioning optimally, it can lead to changes in bodily processes that might contribute to body odour?
Here are a few examples of organs that could potentially lead to heightened body odour when they are not working as well as they should:
The liver plays a crucial role in detoxifying the body by breaking down and eliminating waste products. If the liver isn’t functioning well, it might not process and eliminate certain compounds effectively, which could contribute to changes in body odour. You can support your liver’s health with A.Vogel Boldocynara.
A.Vogel Boldocynara is an herbal medicine which promotes liver and gall bladder health. Often used to support liver function by acting as a general liver tonic, it helps to treat symptoms caused by liver/gall bladder dysfunction including nausea, indigestion, the sensation of fullness, flatulence, raised cholesterol and detoxifies the liver. A.Vogel Boldocynara’s magic also extends to your skin, addressing concerns often rooted in liver imbalance.
The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and pass them in urine. If the kidneys are compromised, waste products might accumulate in the body, potentially leading to changes in body odour. Take care of your kidneys with A.Vogel Nephrosolid. It is a unique formulation of four herbs that help support healthy function of the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract.
The digestive system
An imbalanced gut microbiome causes digestive issues which can affect the breakdown and processing of food in the digestive system. This leads to the production of different compounds that are excreted through sweat, potentially affecting body odour. To support your digestive system consider A.Vogel Molkosan. It is a daily tonic for a healthy digestive system. This 100% natural whey concentrate contains L+ lactic acid which is known as a prebiotic and has a beneficial effect on the environment of the gut.
The endocrine system
The endocrine system produces and regulates hormones that influence various bodily processes including sweat production and composition. Hormonal imbalances can impact body odour. A.Vogel Menoforce is very helpful for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). It’s a convenient once-a-day tablet comprised of fresh sage extract and can be used by both males and females of all ages, not just during menopause. This Western Herbal medicine does not contain oestrogen or have an oestrogen-like action.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and regulates body temperature and excretes waste products through sweat. Skin conditions that affect sweat production or the skin’s natural barrier could impact body odour. To take care of your skin, consider using Thursday Plantation’s Tea Tree cream and oil. Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil is an antiseptic which inhibits a broad spectrum of bacteria and fungi, and cleanses and protects skin abrasions. It also helps treats fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and nail infection.
Thursday Plantation Cream, on the other hand, captures the antibacterial power of tea tree oil to treat dry or inflamed skin conditions. It contains naturally derived ingredients and is gentle on the skin.
Worried about your skin? Living Naturally recommends these solutions.
The thyroid gland
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism and hormone levels in the body. An overactive or underactive thyroid can influence sweat production and composition, which could impact body odour. A.Vogel Kelpasan Tablets are mineral and micronutrient dense and a source of iodine which are used for general wellbeing, for support of thyroid function and healthy metabolism.
The adrenal glands
The adrenal glands produce hormones that play a role in various bodily functions, including the stress response. Hormonal imbalances from adrenal gland issues might influence the types of sweat produced and contribute to body odour.
The Living Naturally way to combatting body odour naturally
Here are a few tips and lifestyle changes you might want to consider implementing if you’re struggling with body odour:
- Maintaining good personal hygiene
Regularly showering with an antibacterial soap to remove bacteria and sweat from the body. Pay extra attention to areas prone to sweat, such as the underarms, feet, and groin. Dry yourself thoroughly after showering to prevent moisture buildup.
- Using natural deodorants
Try opting for natural deodorants that do not contain harsh chemicals or aluminium. Natural deodorants can effectively neutralise odour-causing bacteria without disrupting the body’s natural processes or pH.
- Wearing breathable fabrics
Choose clothes made from natural fibres like cotton, linen, or bamboo, as they allow the skin to breathe and minimise sweat accumulation. Avoid synthetic fabrics that trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Watching your diet
Foods such as garlic, onions, and spices can contribute to body odour. Incorporate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains, which can help detoxify the body and reduce odour-causing compounds.
- Staying hydrated
Drinking an adequate amount of water daily helps regulate body temperature and eliminate toxins through sweat, reducing the chances of bacteria interacting with sweat and causing body odour.
Body odour is a natural phenomenon that can be managed. By understanding the causes and implementing the tips mentioned above, you can confidently tackle body odour and enjoy a fresh and odour-free lifestyle. Remember that everyone’s body is different, and finding the right natural remedies and practices that work for you might involve some trial and error. By adopting a holistic approach to hygiene, lifestyle, and natural remedies, you can effectively combat body odour and enjoy a more confident and fresh experience.
- Anatomy, skin sweat glands – statpearls – NCBI bookshelf. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482278/.
- Palmer, A. (2023) Why does B.O. Smell so bad?, Verywell Health. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-causes-body-odor-4154534.
- Saleem, Dr.A.M. (1970) 10 natural remedies for treating body odour, Practo. Available at: https://www.practo.com/healthfeed/10-natural-remedies-for-treating-body-odour-33708/post.
- professional, C.C. medical (no date) Body odor: Causes, changes, underlying diseases & treatment, Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17865-body-odor