Natural Herbal Deodorant that Works

Herbs can help you stay dry and odor-free

| July/August 1998

When was the last time you worked up a sweat? If you were exercising or doing something strenuous, you probably didn’t care. But if you were on a date or in a job interview, you may have been embarrassed, perhaps because American society places such a premium on dry and odor-free.

Deodorants and antiperspirants help us smell sweet and stay dry, but they often contain synthetic ingredients that may irritate the skin or even be harmful to health. Take heart, though, because alternatives exist. Some products made from herbs and essential oils help fight odor and perspiration just as effectively as, and more mildly than, those that contain synthetic ingredients, and without risk of side effects.

Why We Sweat

Perspiration helps keep the body cool and clean. Production of sweat, which is made up of water, salt, and waste products from metabolism, is controlled by the temperature-regulating center of the brain. It’s triggered by activity, heat, humidity, stress, anxiety, and certain foods, such as hot peppers.

There are two types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands, which are found everywhere on the body, secrete sweat to help the body cool off. Underarm wetness comes from eccrines in the armpits. Apo­crine glands, located in the armpits as well as around the ears and a few other places on the body, are scent glands. Apocrine glands exude a sticky substance that doesn’t produce an odor until it meets airborne bacteria.

Through the centuries, people have used fragrant oils and other aromatics to mask body odor and impart pleasant scents. But specific products to control underarm odor and wetness were developed only a century ago. The first commercially made underarm deodorant was introduced in the United States in 1888. It was a waxy cream that controlled odor probably because it contained zinc oxide, which has a weak ability to fight germs. The product also aimed to control sweat through its waxy base, which plugged pores, according to Karl Laden and Carl B. Felger, authors of Antiperspirants and Deodorants (Marcel Dekker, 1988).

Today, hundreds of deodorants and antiperspirants are on the market, and more than 90 percent of the U.S. population uses an antiperspirant or deodorant every day—and that doesn’t even include such products as deodorant soaps, according to authors Laden and Felger. The authors also note that sales of antiperspirants and deodorants total more than $1 billion a year in the United States alone.

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