Of all of our body processes most humans care about, their body odor stands at or close to the top. Americans spend billions of dollars on products to make us smell good. We buy deodorant, lotions, perfumes, body sprays, and anything else we can find that will help hide bad body odor.
Truth is, we all smell. Some of us worse than others. Why is that? And what can we do about it?
It is well known that sweat itself does not have an odor. However, bacteria on our skin breakdown compounds in the sweat that they feed on. These bacterial products are the malodorous villains.
Unfortunately, many of the products we use to hide our odor contain ingredients that are toxic to our body. So what can you use to beat the smell?
Use of alcohol may help momentarily by knocking off some of the superficial bugs. But they very quickly return since the ethanol evaporates almost as soon as it is applied.
However, recent findings presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology shed light on an interesting way to suppress odor. Its chelation therapy. Iron chelation to be specific.
A team of researchers found that a powerful means to control skin bacteria is to deprive them of iron. Iron is a mineral absolutely essential for bacterial growth.
The group used diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) to inhibit bacterial growth due to its ability to bind free iron. (This compound is very similar to our darling EDTA-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid). DTPA inhibited bacterial growth and odor.
However, bacteria have the ability to acquire iron from other molecules in sweat, so the group added BHT (a common preservative) to the mix. BHT has the ability to liberate iron from its carrying molecules before the bacteria can gobble it up. Then the DTPA grabs the liberated iron before the bacteria can incorporate it for growth.
The researchers found that the combination of DTPA and BHT tested on 50 people was very effective at limiting bacterial growth in the underarm area for two weeks. By the end of the two weeks, the combination reduced aerobic (oxygen-loving) bacteria by over 90%. However, once the product was stopped, bacteria levels increased to pre-use levels. Odor would certainly recur.
I told you in the past that the heaviest meat eaters seemed to have the most powerful body odors. While no one is immune from foul body odor, those who do not eat as much meat seem to suffer the least. My observation is only that, an observation. But this research puts some science behind it. Those who eat a high iron (meat) diet are not only in store for many of the iron- related problems I have described here in Second Opinion, but also may be allowing a feeding frenzy for bacteria in the underarm areas. Sweat is a major route of detoxification of the body for heavy metals, and iron will be found as well. We know that reducing iron loads provides dramatic improvement for vascular disease and likely prevents many other degenerative problems as well. While I cannot say that my chelated patients have reported less body odor, it would make an interesting study.
Perhaps the government would approve chelation for body odor, since it cannot see fit to accept it for its obvious benefits in vascular disease. However, a more practical and directed approach might be application of topical chelating agents to the target area.
Even better, perhaps this information will stimulate the chelating physicians to work out a formulation with our favorite chelating agent, EDTA, which is known for its safety. This makes far more sense than the heavily chemical-laden antiperspirants and deodorants that proliferate in the marketplace. I would much rather have EDTA under my arms than aluminum! If you have a problem with underarm odor, try dissolving EDTA powder (Beyond Clean® Longevity Research — 928-474-3684) in water to make a compress for your underarm area. I do not see any risk in trying this.
Ref: American Society for Microbiology, Iron-Binding Compounds Decrease Body Odor, May 21, 2002.