Some years back, before I discovered better ways to keep fit, I dragged myself out jogging on a daily basis, weather permitting. My assorted children, then aged between 5 and 15 thought it grand fun to join me. After a run of about 3 miles around country lanes, the 7 of us returned home all red faced and sweaty – apart from my 13 year old daughter. She always looked like she had no more exerted herself, than if she had gone the distance in a car. This lack of sweatiness continued for many years, until one day she announced with great happiness and relief that FINALLY, she found an exercise that made her sweat. Hot Yoga! As she gaily informed me I would pass out as soon as I stepped in the door, never mind struck a pose, I have never attempted it myself.
Although it was nice to attribute her non – sweatiness to her long limbed athletic build (she went on to run in 2 London Marathons), this lack of sweat could have been due to hormonal issues. Consequently, I investigated and discovered the reasons for both this, and also the converse: Sweating too much – which of the two conditions is far more socially troublesome and distressing. It is also far more prevalent than under sweating.
The medical terms are very similar, hypohidrosis and hyperhidrosis. Hyper being the one that is over active, like the hyperactive child.
Why We Need Sweat
Annoying and uncomfortable as it can be in any quantity, the ability to sweat is necessary. As Dr. Ben Kim explains:
“Sweating is a physiological mechanism that helps you cool off. When your body temperature rises, sweat comes out of your pores, which allows heat to escape from your body, evaporating into the air. Without the ability to sweat, you would suffer from serious health challenges from not being able to regulate your body temperature.”
Hyperhidrosis is far more troublesome than wiping sweat off your forehead, having clammy sweaty palms or wet patches under the arms. All these, whilst uncomfortable and unpleasant, are natural heat or anxiety induced bodily reactions. Hyperhidrosis is an overreaction.
Surgery Versus Eating Right
I was astonished to learn that one of the conventional medical treatments for this condition is to operate on the nerves attached to the sweat glands. The idea is to stop the sweat glands being given the message to sweat. Astonishing! Whatever is going on in the body that is causing an imbalance, needs correcting. A very fine example of killing the messenger because you don’t like the news!
If you suffer from profuse sweating, have you considered it may be your body responding to what you eat? This is because of how the immune system reacts.
Dr Ben Kim has found altering his patient’s diets has been extremely effective.
“With hyperhidrosis, your sympathetic nervous system can be over active even when you are physically at rest. A significant and overlooked cause for this over activity is eating foods that your body cannot tolerate. For example, if your body cannot tolerate dairy products, whenever you eat some, your immune system must work hard to protect your tissues from the harmful effects of whichever components of dairy don’t agree with your body. If your immune system is constantly at work to deal with such food intolerances, your sympathetic nervous system detects this as stress, and activates the mechanisms that are in place to help you during stressful situations, including the production of sweat.”
So altering your diet and following one that is high in fresh, living plant based foods is a natural treatment which will certainly help alleviate the symptoms. More importantly it will also allow your body to come back into balance over time. This solves the problem as well as ridding you of symptoms, unlike the operation which is not correcting the body. If something is awry in your body, it is a message to you, your body always works for you, not against you.
To obtain relief and regain balance using herbs you need to consider the ones that are adapatgenic and of course these will work on both types of abnormal sweating. There is much anecdotal evidence on the benefits of the Chinese herb Schizandra. It is well known as a powerful liver tonic, and you may be aware, the liver/hormone/adrenals are all very much involved in any stress situation.
With profuse sweating your stress responses are very much out of balance and so taking this herb will restore this. It can be taken as a tea made from the dried berries or as a tincture. It has a very light pleasant taste, which has made it one of my favourite herbs ever! Of course this can be used alone as a natural treatment for hyperhidrosis, or in conjunction with altering your diet. Using multiple approaches will cover all the bases, and bring you relief more rapidly than just altering your diet.
Replenish Lost Minerals
“Keep in mind that sweating, especially heavy sweating will cause your body to lose valuable fluids and electrolytes. Be sure to stay well hydrated if you’ve been sweating heavily, and replace your electrolytes naturally by drinking coconut water or water mixed with Himalayan salt.”
Dr Joseph Mercola
Just as anyone sweating from overexertion and exercise would need to replenish the lost minerals from their body, the same applies for those with hyperhidrosis.
Supplementing with extra magnesium particularly is important and certainly many people with this condition have found taking magnesium has reduced and/or eradicated the sweating. So you may find that magnesium alone, works for you as a natural treatment for hyperhidrosis. However, because we are all different in the way we respond to this mineral, you may need to experiment a little with the various types. Some people have found applying it topically as magnesium oil, extremely effective. Others have benefited more from taking it orally. Magnesium expert Dr Carolyn Dean takes 2 x 500 mg magnesium oxide daily and 500 mg more when she is stressed.
So lastly, if profuse sweating is a sign of an over stressed body, does this mean the opposite is true for the people who sweat too little? Not at all, it is actually that they are overly affected by their para sympathic nervous system, and will likely have a lot of digestive issues. Any adrenal imbalance needs correcting for optimum health and wellness. Happily, an adaptogenic herb like Schizandra will work for this too. It adapts to whomever consumes it. It is that simple.