Bad body odor: causes and folk remedies to combat it

Causes of body odor.

Conventional wisdom suggests that perspiration is the cause of body odor.  However, perspiration by itself is basically odorless, but it is bacteria and odors from other sources that are the real culprits.

Anaerobic bacteria, which flourish when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen, may well be the cause of your body odor. As the body’s metabolism goes to work, it emits odors, as this is the body’s way of ridding itself of waste products. Any imbalance in metabolism will result in strong smells.

Since we are talking about waste products, you should consider toxins as a possible cause of body odor and that it almost always can be. In today’s world we are bombarded with toxins in our homes, food and air that accumulate in the body when the organs of elimination cannot dispose of them.

The liver and intestines can be clogged, causing odors to emanate from the body, so we suggest a thorough detox program by cleansing the liver, kidneys, and colon.

Diet imbalances result in constipation or magnesium or zinc deficiency which can be other causes of body odor.

Large amounts of meat or vegetables can cause body odor.

Due to a person’s body chemistry, some people who eat large amounts of meat or vegetables (vegetarians) have a very distinctive body odor that can be very offensive.

Some people cannot metabolize foods that contain large amounts of choline (a nutrient in the vitamin B family), such as eggs, fish, liver, and legumes. The result is a “fishy” smell.

If you are one of those people, remove these products and see if this is the cause of your smell. Certain foods and drinks, such as onion, garlic, curry, certain spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol are also main causes. Fried and baked goods can contain rancid fats and oils that lead to body odor.

The sweat glands (apocrine glands) under the arms and in the groin secrete a substance that is the main cause related to body odor.

This substance, which contains proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, is quickly attacked by bacteria, causing bad odors. Furthermore, today’s children are beginning puberty much earlier, and this change in hormones can lead to body odor in younger children.

Estrogen dominance, often caused by petrochemicals, can trigger puberty earlier. Drinking soda from plastic bottles is one of the main causes of estrogen dominance.

There may be underlying causes of excessive sweating, such as low blood sugar, liver disease, diabetes, parasites, metabolic dysfunction, menopause, or emotional stress (anger, fear, nervousness). Excessive sweating can be on the forehead, palms, soles of the feet, or armpits.

Some other possible causes of body odor.

  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver disease.
  • Yeast infections.
  • Refined sugar feeds bacteria and fungi on the skin.

Alternative treatments for body odor.

For excess armpit odor, try to use a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide (3%), which is cheap and can be obtained at the pharmacy. Put a teaspoon in a glass of water and wash the armpit. If this doesn’t work, increase the amount of peroxide (hydrogen peroxide).

Since toxic overload may be one of the causes, try to take steam baths or sauna frequently as part of an overall detox program.

Wellness program.

There are certain lifestyle changes to make if you have a constant body odor problem.  Occasional problems can be treated if the cause is known. We suggest a program of bathing every day, changing the diet, and changing clothes.


Shower every day to remove bacteria from your skin, especially in the armpits and groin where the bacteria are most prevalent. Wash your armpits with a soap and towel as it will work better to remove bacteria than just soap on your hands.

Deodorant soap is preferable as it helps fight bacteria more than regular soaps. If you have a serious body odor problem, soak in a tub of water for fifteen minutes or more with three cups of tomato juice added. Don’t forget that tomato juice works on you and your pets if you’ve been “peed.”


Clothing is an area that many people overlook. Loose clothing allows the body to breathe better than tight clothing. Sweat escapes and does not become a breeding ground for bacteria.

The type of fabric is also very important. Synthetic fabrics for shoes and clothing do not allow the body to breathe, so use natural fabrics. Wash your clothes frequently.


Diet changes are also very important in eliminating various sources of body odor. Certain foods, such as meat, onion, garlic, exotic spices, and drinks such as coffee and alcohol can lead to body odor.

Try eliminating these from your diet for a week or two and see if this makes a difference.  Although you can usually smell your own body odor if it comes from the armpits, many people do not realize that they have body odor in general, because they have become used to it.

Ask someone you can trust to do a “smell test” – before and after you start eliminating certain foods. That may be the only way you’ll find out.


As mentioned above, excessive sweating can have underlying causes, so it’s wise to get diagnosed to see if you have a medical problem.

Women going through menopause and perimenopause may experience episodes of sweating accompanied by bad body odor. Sweating can occur even when the woman is not hot. Alum stone (or alum crystal) is a mineral salt crystal mined from a rock called bauxite.

Caffeine and medications.

Caffeine and medications can also be the cause of sweating and body odor. Cut back on caffeine and take note of any changes when you stop taking the medication.


Despite the fact that tobacco is mentioned as a cause of bad breath, tobacco use is the main cause of body odor. Not only does it come back through your lungs, it comes through your skin. It is likely mixing with other elements of your body chemistry to create a distinct scent. If you stop smoking, it can take several weeks for the body to rid itself of odor-causing substances.


  • Chlorophyll. One or two chlorophyll tablets or liquid chlorophyll taken with each meal can also help, as chlorophyll is a very good deodorant.
  • Take magnesium supplements. Take magnesium supplements or increase your diet sources of foods rich in this important mineral. Between 200-500 mg of magnesium have been recommended. You will have to try different dosages until you get the amounts that are perfect for your body.
  • Vitamins A, high potency vitamin B(50 mg or higher), when combined with magnesium, will help reduce certain secretions that can be a cause of odor. Make sure you are getting 100mg of PABA and 100mg of B6.
  • If you have body odor, try taking zinc lozenges. Zinc, in addition to magnesium, will help balance the body’s metabolism and reduce the cause of odor. Studies have shown that taking 30 to 50 mg a day will dramatically reduce certain body odors, although you may need less. Zinc can also reduce perspiration and sweating of the feet. However, it is advisable to go above 15 mg only with the supervision of a doctor as zinc can interfere with the absorption of copper, another essential mineral.

Folk remedies to combat body odor.

  1. Alcohol/witch hazelwitch hazel). Clean your armpits with rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, or witch hazel instead of deodorant.
  2. Apple cider vinegar. The vinegar cider eliminates underarm odor when used in place of deodorant because it reduces the pH of the skin. Bacteria cannot live in areas with low ph.
  3. White vinegar is also helpful. Scoop some on a cotton ball and apply it to your armpits, instead of deodorant. The vinegar smell should go away in minutes and you should be odor free all day.
  4. Baby powder. Use baby powder or talcum powder in areas of excessive sweating.
  5. Baby wipes (see wipes below) also work, but the results may be temporary.
  6. Baking soda. Baking soda can be used in place of deodorant. Just apply the powder to your dry armpits. It kills bacteria and helps absorb perspiration. The cornstarch can also be used in place of or mixed with the baking soda.
  7. Bauxite crystal deodorant works very well in controlling underarm odors.
  8. Parsley/alfalfa. Chewing parsley, alfalfa, and other green leafy vegetables are excellent folk remedies that help neutralize body odor, probably due to the deodorizing effect of chlorophyll.
  9. Radish juice. Extract the juice from two dozen radishes, add 1/4 teaspoon of glycerin, and put in a syringe or spray bottle. Use as a deodorant or to reduce foot odor.
  10. Rosemary is an antibacterial herb. Put 8-10 drops of rosemary essential oil in 1 ounce of water and apply where needed.
  11. Sage herbalists suggest drinking a cup of sage tea every day to reduce the activity of the sweat glands. This is especially true for those who perspire excessively due to stress. Use 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried sage or two tea bags in a cup of water; stand for ten minutes; drink it in small doses throughout the day.
  12. Fresh sage leaves mixed with tomato juice have been found to be very effective.
  13. Tea tree is an antibacterial herb. Make a deodorant by putting 2 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of water and apply as needed.
  14. Turnip juice. Turnip juice can reduce underarm odor for up to 10 hours. Grate a turnip, squeeze the juice with cheesecloth, to get two teaspoons. Wash your armpits first, and vigorously rub a teaspoon each of your fingers.
  15. Wheat grass. Take 500 mg of wheatgrass a day on an empty stomach and then drink a glass of water to lower it. Chlorophyll dramatically reduces body odor. You can do this too by extracting the juice from the wheatgrass.

Homeopathic for body odor.

Homeopaths recommend dissolving Silicea 6X three Silicea tablets under the tongue every morning and night to destroy the bad smell.

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