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"Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?" Thirty years ago consumers happily purchased soaps and antiperspirants with catc.

"Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?"

Thirty years ago consumers happily purchased soaps and antiperspirants with catchy slogans and cute commercial jingles, giving little or no thought to the chemical ingredients they were applying to their underarms each morning.

Today, savvy shoppers read ingredient labels and are seeking natural alternatives to the traditional chemical-based products. Most health food stores offer a wide range of herbal-based deodorants, avoiding antiperspirants entirely.

Sweating is your body's ingenious way of cooling itself down and releasing toxins. This is done using two kinds of sweat glands: the apocrine and theeccrine. The eccrine glands are the source of most perspiration, secreting an odourless liquid mainly from the armpits, palms and soles of the feet, which can set the stage for bacterial growth. When these bacteria mingle with the smaller amount of sweat produced by the apocrine glands, unpleasant body odour results.

It's a normal function of the body to emit odour. Offensive body odour, however, is usually the result of the bacterial byproduct of stale sweat. These odours are naturally strongest in parts of the body that are the least ventilated, such as the armpits, feet and groin. The more people sweat, the likelier they are to increase body odour. Physical exertion, hot weather, spicy foods, stressful situations, being overweight and some medical conditions can cause the body to perspire more.

Commercial Deodorants and Antiperspirants

As their names imply, deodorants are designed to eliminate odour and antiperspirants are meant to stop perspiration altogether. The latter is achieved by using astringent salts, such as aluminum salts, which block the sweat glands, reducing the amount of eccrine sweat that reaches the surface of the skin and limiting the body's ability to expel toxins in that region. Concentrations of aluminum are considered dangerous because of the link to Alzheimer disease. Some health professionals also believe that because aluminum salts block the sweat glands, toxins cannot be released and remain in the body. Still others believe that the toxic aluminum is absorbed into the bloodstream. However, both theories have yet to be proven conclusively.

When selecting a deodorant, try to avoid the following chemical ingredients that are either toxic or have questionable safety: DBP (dibutyl phthalate), boric acid, petrolatum (petroleum jelly), fragrance (often chemical), triclosan, methyl paraben, sorbitan monostearate and propylene glycol.

Natural Alternatives

Look for natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, witch hazel, rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender. Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antiseptic anddeodorizing; witch hazel and sage are astringents that inhibit sweat gland activity; thyme, rosemary, sage and lavender are antibacterial. (Pregnant women should avoid sage and rosemary.) Other therapeutic ingredients are purified clay, lichen, seaweed, vitamin E, aloe vera and oils of chamomile,eucalyptus and citrus. Some non-toxic ingredients commonly found in deodorants are allantoin, stearic acid, sodium stearate, farnesol and cocamide DEA.

Crystal deodorants can also be effective for many people. They are made from harmless, natural aluminum salts and do not contain the harmful aluminum chlorohydrate or aluminum zirconium commonly found in antiperspirants.

As with many body care products, what constitutes a winning choice of deodorant for one person may prove to be a dud for someone else (we all have our own unique chemical makeup and different factors that contribute to our own individual body odour.

For most people, good hygiene and an effective deodorant will control body odour. For others, however, simply washing well is not enough, and the personal implications can be frustrating, embarrassing and even socially crippling. If the suggestions in this article fail to improve your situation, it may be time to consult your doctor.

A person's diet can affect body odour. Foods and spices with a strong odour such as garlic, curry and cumin contain odorous chemicals, which are secreted through sweat. Some people with chronic yeast problems can develop a beer-like smell, as the yeast turns sugar into alcohol in the body.

The problem could also lie with inadequate digestion, metabolism or elimination. Barry Bird, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Sydney, Australia feels that offensive body odour is a sign of internal imbalance. It is a warning that something in the body, such as the liver or spleen, is not functioning properly, possibly due to toxic buildup. The body is trying to release these toxins through the skin. "Often something as simple as changing the diet or taking herbs to help cleanse the liver can help stop BO."

Glands at a Glance

Two kinds of sweat glands, the apocrine and the eccrine, help your body release toxins and keep cool. The apocrine glands, concentrated mainly under the arms and in the gential area, secret an oily sweat containing pheromones, thought to be responsible for attracting members of the opposite sex. The eccrine glands, mainly in the underarms, palms and soles of the feet, secret a watery liquid in response to heat, exercise or emotional stress. Both types of sweat are virtually odourless until they mingle with bacteria.

More Sweet Solutions

If natural deodorants alone don't help you avoid body odour, try some of the following tips:

  • Avoid eating too much of one type of food.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol or coffee.
  • Try taking chlorophyll supplements and/or wheatgrass juice.
  • Daily supplementation of digestive enzymes and a high quality probiotic may prove beneficial.
  • Drink plenty of water regularly to help flush toxins from your liver.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton so your skin can breathe.
  • Wear only clean clothing, and if necessary, change clothes during the day

Commercial Deodorant Timeline

1888 - An unknown inventor from Philadelphia formulates the first known commercial product to prevent underarm odour, trademarked and marketed in a cream form under the name of "Mum."

1931 - Bristol Myers acquires the Mum manufacturing company.

1952 - A new type of deodorant applicator, based on the same principle as the ballpoint pen, is marketed in the United States as Ban Roll-On.

1965 - The first antiperspirant aerosol deodorant is launched.

1978 - CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are banned in the US. In response, manufacturers are quick to introduce deodorants and antiperspirants in both a solid stick and a pump spray form.

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