Don’t Sweat It!
Why Most Deodorants Stink
By Trystanna Williams, DC Student
According to the CDC, aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust. This metal is used in a variety of things such as soda cans, pots and pans, aspirin, antiperspirants and even food. The average adult consumes 7-9 mg of aluminum a day in their food! Aluminum is a silver metal that is strong and light and that is used for making many products. Even though the FDA has determined the use of aluminum used as a food additive is generally safe, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) along with the EPA has yet to evaluate the effects of aluminum as a potential carcinogen; this personally concerns me!
Sweat is an extremely important function of the body and unless you have anhidrosis (the inability to sweat normally), we all sweat; especially in this hot Georgia weather! One method of thermoregulation is achieved through sweating. Our skin contains many glands that produce sweat, especially in our armpits. The evaporation of sweat has a cooling effect on the skin thus helping to maintain the body temperature. Sweat itself doesn’t have an odor. It isn’t until bacteria begin to feed on the sweat molecules that an odor is produced.
The use of antiperspirants has been a safety concern of mine for quite a while. Blocking sweat ducts may lead to a build-up of toxins because sweat is not pure water; in addition to water it is composed of minerals, lactate and urea. Aluminum based antiperspirants work by blocking sweat ducts thus decreasing the amount of sweat that reaches the skin’s surface. This concern has been countered with the argument that humans do not excrete large amounts of toxins via their sweat ducts. Most toxins are excreted through the liver and kidneys and later into the urine and feces. Touché. Honestly, I am more concerned with the dangers of absorbing aluminum, even trace amounts, through the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system and it plays a huge role in absorption.
A dense amount of lymph nodes are housed in the underarm area. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system and play a role in filtering and trapping foreign particles. Antiperspirants are applied in the arm pit, close to lymph nodes. Interestingly enough, many breast tumors develop in that general vicinity. Please note that it has not been proven that antiperspirants can cause tumors. The American Cancer Society states there is very little scientific evidence to support the claim that breast cancer and the use of antiperspirant are linked. However, applying a potentially toxic substance in an area highly concentrated with lymph nodes seems risky to me.
I haven’t worn commercial deodorant in over a year because the idea of preventing perspiration is an opposition to the body’s natural health maintaining system. Yet, the thought of embarrassing social situations due to strong body odors is not highly appealing either. My solution: make my own deodorant. If you don’t feel comfortable using an antiperspirant and you don’t want to make your own deodorant, simply use aluminum-free deodorant. It won’t stop the sweat but it will take care of the odor.
3 T Coconut Oil
3+ T Baking Soda
2 T Shea Butter
Essential Oils (optional)
Melt shea butter and coconut oil in a double boiler over medium heat until barely melted. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Mix well. Add essential oils and pour into a glass container for storage. It does not need to be refrigerated.