“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration”. (Thomas Alva Edison).
For most of us the ninety nine percent does not pose much of a problem as sweating comes naturally and in profusion to most of us.Though stinky and uncomfortable, sweat is in fact helpful in regulating body temperature and when our body temperatures rise, the sweat glands kick in and secrete a watery fluid which cools our body. However, excessive sweating can be a bother and can cause discomfort as well as embarrassment.. Sweating under natural circumstances like while doing manual labor, or exercising or sweating during a hot day, is normal, but sweating excessively without a reason should set the alarm bells ringing.
What is sweat?
Sweat is produced by sweat glands which are located in the dermis (the inner layer of skin) and consists of a fluid containing water, proteins, lipids and certain minerals. There are two types of sweat glands – Eccrine (found all over the surface of skin) and Apocrine (found mainly in the armpits and groin region). The eccrine glands, contain up to ninety percent water, start producing sweat soon after birth and function as thermo regulators in our body. On the other hand, the apocrine glands are hormone related and get kick started at puberty. They are supposed to be communication signals, as they contain certain chemicals like pheromones, and their release is linked to our emotions. They do not contain much water, and the concentration of lipids, proteins and hormones is mainly responsible for body odor and discoloration, as bacteria thrive very easily in this sweat.
Why do we sweat?
Sweat is a natural biological mechanism of our body which helps to regulate body temperature and keep us cool during hotter and humid ambience or after a strenuous workout. We also break into a sweat when we are emotionally stressed out or scared.
The idiom, breaking out in cold sweat means that we begin to sweat when we are anxious or frightened. Normally a person sweats up to a liter a day but excessive sweating could be caused by various factors.
Causes for excessive sweating could be:
- Exercise: During exercise or hard manual labor, our body temperature rises, thus causing our sweat glands to work overtime and produce extra sweat to help the body cool down.
- Stress or emotional imbalance: Sweating caused during times of stress is secreted by the apocrine glands and is indicated by sweaty palms, soles and underarms. For instance, depression and panic attacks induce excessive sweating and it is sometimes necessary to take medication to cure this.
- Diet: Eating a diet rich in fats and spicy foods can also cause excessive sweating especially in the head and face. Alcohol consumption and smoking are also cause for excessive sweating and body odor.
- Medication: Certain drugs cause sweating and are one of the side effects for certain antibiotics.
- Hormonal changes: Women generally experience excessive sweating during menopause which is result of hormonal changes occurring in the body and is indicated by hot flashes. Pregnancy can also cause hormone fluctuations thus leading to excessive perspiration.
- Weather: Living in coastal areas like Chennai can be bothersome for most people as the hot humid climate causes them to sweat profusely and one tends to start sweating right after a shower!
- Obesity: Overweight also contributes to excessive sweating as the body has to work harder to perform its normal functions.
- Ailments: Excessive sweating is one of the symptoms for many physical disorders like Heart Attacks, Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or even Cancer. A visit to the doctor is most important if your excessive sweating is not connected to any other factors mentioned above as this could be life threatening.
Sweat Busters – Natural Home Remedies for Hyperhidrosis:
Also known as hyperhidrosis, excessive sweating can be recognized when we sweat for no apparent reason. Sweaty palms, clammy feet and excessive sweating under the armpits and groin region are signs of abnormal sweating. There are ways of fighting the emotional problems connected with excessive perspiration. There are a number of herbs and home remedies for excessive sweating which can be quite effective in reducing your sweat levels. Some of them are:
- Tomato Juice: A glass of tomato juice taken daily for a week generally takes care of this problem.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: An excellent way to control excessive perspiration, apple cider vinegar can be used externally as well as internally. Apply some of this under your armpits to help eliminate body odor, or if taken internally add two teaspoons of honey to two teaspoons of vinegar and have it daily for one week on an empty stomach. For sweaty feet, apply this vinegar evenly after washing and drying your feet.
- Corn starch: Can be used as a substitute of deodorants, which often lead to allergies and discoloration of skin. Apply generously under arms and dust of excess powder.
- Potato: Try slicing a potato and rubbing it in the sweaty areas.
- Green Tea: People vouch for the effect of having a cup of green tea every day to get rid of excessive sweat and even call it a ‘miracle cure’ .
- Tea tree oil: Has astringent like properties, and is also an anti fungal agent and can be applied as a thin layer under armpits, hands and feet and the groin area.
- Sage: An effective antiperspirant, this kitchen herb can be used by mixing the dried leaves into your diet like egg curries, soups and pasta. You can even boil 1 teaspoon of dried sage leaves and leave aside for 24 hours at room temperature. Clean and dry thoroughly, those areas like armpits, hands feet and soles and apply this mixture at least three times a day.
- Burdock: A bitter tasting herb, it is preferable to take this in tincture form, one teaspoon three times a day. This diverts extra sweat to the lymph nodes, kidneys and bowels, thus reducing the excess sweat from pouring out through the body.
- Wheat Grass Juice: the water extract from wheat grass is an effective home remedy for reducing excessive sweating. One glass a day helps to neutralize acids and dilute toxins and is also a good source of protein, vitamin C and Vitamin B-12.
- Tea Bags: Yes, teabags soaked in hot water acts as an effective antiperspirant as tea contains Tannic acid which has astringent properties. Soak hands and feet in warm water containing at least five teabags for half an hour and notice the difference!
Sweat free tactics:
As we have already seen that sweating can also increase due to obesity, unhealthy food habits and weather, certain lifestyle changes will also help to tackle this problem.
Diet: Avoid taking fatty diet and instead take a diet rich in silicon as this helps to regulate the production of sweat. Strawberries, grapes and almonds are rich in silicon. Drink plenty of water to dilute the toxins which cause body odor. Avoid intake of garlic, onions, caffeine, alcohol and deep fried snacks and foods.
Clothing: Wear loose clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton and linen which helps to absorb sweat. When our sweat has no chance to dry faster on the skin, bacteria collect and cause body odor, especially in underarms, soles of the feet and groin areas.
A healthy lifestyle, meditation and yoga can certainly go a long in reducing your sweat levels. Stay fit by exercising regularly, eat healthy food and wear appropriate clothing and you will find yourself sweat free, ready to take on the world with a more confidant and positive attitude.