Friday, April 28, 2006

What's the truth on body odor?

Years ago (1977), I read a book by prominent Guru/runner Dr. George Sheehan – ‘Running & Being’. In this book he described how B.O. was caused by poor hygiene and not inherent body odor. He said the term B.O. was coined by the Deodorant industry to boost sales and because it played upon the fear of rejection, it worked a thousand times better than they could have imagined. It launched a billion dollar industry and since a little bit of fear worked so well, the industry has kept the fallacy going.

Dr. Sheehan also said no one should ever restrict the flow of perspiration from their underarms by using antiperspirant. It only makes the body attempt to rid itself of toxins through other means and plugs the pores.

Dr. Sheehan said inherent body odor is not unpleasant and negative odor can be prevented in most cases by drinking the recommended amounts of water on a daily basis (8 glasses).

To support his claims, I quote a web page on herbal remedies for natural deodorant:

“Many antiperspirants and deodorants may help reduce moisture or mask the odor with a perfume or fragrance, but the most effective way to fight body odor is by maintaining good personal hygiene. Shower daily, especially after exercise. Change underwear every day and always wear clean clothing. Wear clothing that is loose fitting and made of natural fabrics like cotton, silk, linen and wool.”

Dr. Sheehan personally tested his theory by stopping the use of deodorant and showering every day, sometimes twice and always wearing clean clothes. He soon found out no one noticed he wasn’t wearing deodorant. Even after heavy exercise he had no noticeable odor. However, if he hung up his clothes and put them on the next day, there was a noticeable odor due to bacterial growth.

He then went on to say almost no one is secure enough to attempt to break away from the paradigm of B.O. and consequently, the Deodorant industry will continue to sell billions of dollars of deodorant. The common refrain upon reading this will be (and I am predicting):

“I start stinking the second I get out of the shower.”
“I’m one of those people that this doesn’t apply to because I DO have B.O.”
“It’s not worth the risk. I’ll continue on as I have all my life.”
“Anyone who doesn’t use deodorant is a filthy animal! Yuk!”
“I have a serious sweating problem, so I HAVE to use stuff that clogs up my pits to stay dry”.

I guess the next question is: Do I use deodorant? Nope, not since 1977.

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