Recent medical research has shown that some people with body odour (B.O.) suffer from severe problems in their personal and social relationships, as well as wrecked promotion prospects at work, educational under-achievement because of teasing and bullying along with enormous degrees of stress which is blamed for their frequent progression into alcoholism, excessive tobacco or drug use and in some cases to suicide.
Feelings of shame, embarrassment, low self-esteem, isolation, frustration, anxiety and depression are extremely common where B.O. is present.
Although sufferers and their families have been shown to gain considerable benefit from sympathetic counselling, and while learning to deal with the stress this condition causes is certainly important - long-term strategies and approaches which deal with underlying causes of increased body odour are probably a lot more important.
Certainly the answer does not lie in antiperspirant and deodorant sprays which at best only mask the problem, although safe forms of these might well prove useful in the short-term - as long as they are not adding to the person's problem - for example by increasing exposure to and absorption of aluminium - now implicated in Alzheimer's disease.
The reason why some people smell offensively can have various causes - some easily remedied others not - and it is these which need to be dealt with:
- When B.O. is simply a result of inadequate bathing (and/or cleaning/washing of clothes) the solutions are equally simple - better hygiene, regular bathing/showering as well as the regular washing of clothes - which should ideally always be of natural fibre such as cotton.
- Much B.O. is caused by skin bacterial activity on sweat which has dried on the skin - and this makes people who sweat excessively more likely to be affected. In some people (the excitable 'greyhound/racehorse' types) the sympathetic aspect of the nervous system is dominant and they tend to sweat more, whereas in others (the calmer 'bulldog/carthorse' type) the parasympathetic aspect dominates and they tend to stay calmer. So keeping stress levels low is important for people who sweat a lot.
Tactics such as learning relaxation methods and stress coping techniques along with improved nutritional balance, all help to reduce this tendency.
- In women menstruation and stress often dramatically increases the degree of body odour experienced and careful attention to personal hygiene and dietary excellence is called for.
- The efficiency or otherwise of our internal detoxification processes are commonly affected by nutrient imbalances - for example the micro-element zinc has been reported by Professor Derek Bryce-Smith, of Reading University, England, as being deficient in people with body odour1.
A thorough review of nutritional status of anyone with B.O. should be undertaken by a suitable professional nutritional adviser.
- B.O. is sometimes associated with specific health problems including liver dysfunction, diabetes, digestive problems (parasites etc) and yeast infections and these conditions require professional attention and advice.
Some people with systemic yeast conditions (Candida) carry a ‘beer’ smell - since yeast can turn sugar into alcohol in their body's very rapidly. Fortunately safe natural anti-yeast dietary and herbal methods exist which can bring such conditions under control.
- Medical tests at Imperial College in London2 has shown that some people with B.O. have imbalances affecting the 'friendly bacteria' which live inside all of our digestive systems. If these vital micro-organisms are unbalanced through use of medication (antibiotics and steroids in particular) or a high fat, high sugar, high red-meat, low fibre diet the vital role they play in detoxification of the bowel and in manufacturing important nutrients is impaired and this can lead to aggravation of B.O., as well as to numerous other health problems.3