To continue with our investigation of the channels of elimination in the body, this month we will consider sweating.
This can be a controversial topic as many of us consider our body’s need to sweat to be gross and even unsanitary in others. However, this is a vital mechanism used by our bodies to clean house.
Yes, there is such a thing as too much sweating (called Hyperhidrosis by modern medicine). However, this rarer medical condition is not what we are considering (and yes, there are reasons the body does this that can be addressed naturopathically). We are considering normal sweating.
So what is sweat? Sweat is an air-conditioning system for our body (2.6 million sweat glands on your body), and we can produce almost 100 ounces of sweat in an hour! However, most of us would top out at about 33 ounces unless we live in a hot location.
Sweat is caused by exercise, heat, excitement, fear, and even anxiety. Sodium, chloride, and potassium are all carried to the skin’s surface by the sweat glands and these salts stay on the skin after the liquid is gone. The liquid is water, fatty acids, and protein byproducts (urea and ammonia). Additionally, some researchers have found natural antibiotics in sweat called dermcidin.
There are two types of sweat glands: apocrine sweat glands that produce a plasma-like mix and eccrine sweat glands that produce a more water-laden mix. Eccrine glands are found over most of your body and apocrine are located where there are hair follicle concentrations like your scalp, anus/genital region, and armpits.
Ok, so now that some of the scientific stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to why it is good to sweat!
Benefits of Sweating
- It cools us off and maintains proper body temperature
- Allows toxins and toxic elements to escape our bodies (including BPA)
- It can help flush kidney stones
- It helps to clear the skin (because pores open when we sweat and release trapped debris)
- It can heal wounds, especially the eccrine sweat glands
- It produces natural antimicrobial peptides that are active against large and small bugs
- If you are sweating, you are probably exercising and building your heart, breath, and general body strength
- Exercising alone without sweat does not produce the happy hormone rush that sweat-heavy exercise does
- Sweating from exercise can help eliminate pain
- It helps to improve blood circulation
- Sweating kills many viruses and bacteria that cannot live past 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit
- It relieves stress and promotes relaxation
With this huge, varied list of benefits, it is clear we need to get out there and sweat more! Whether from exercise or saunas, sweating does our bodies good.
One note about health and sweating. Find a deodorant that does not have aluminum or other toxic metals in it. Also, don’t use an antiperspirant. These both mess up our body’s ability to sweat effectively. Remember, anything put on your skin does enter your body and is processed by your spleen. There are other options from toxic products like Secret, Degree, Dove, and all the other popular deodorant brands. You can even make your own deodorant with simple things like essential oils, arrow root/organic corn starch, shea butter, coconut oil, and baking soda.
Here are a few brands to consider (I have used personally) and a couple of links to good recipes for homemade deodorants.
So get out there, sweat more, and feel better! But remember to hydrate! We need 1/2 our body weight in pounds in ounces of water a day (so a 100 pound woman would need 50 ounces while a 180 pound man needs 90 ounces of water a day).
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