Ok, so I am very excited to dive right in! I am like a kid at Christmas not knowing where to start opening my treasures! To focus my thoughts I asked myself, "If I could give only one piece of health advice what would it be?"...followed by, "What makes me cringe the most when I think about someone's daily routine?" The answer was simple..."ANTIPERSPIRANT!" If I have learned one thing it is that your skin is your biggest organ, and it sucks up everything you put on it! Now, I know I am risking being called a "hippie" by my friends...and I have to admit that I used to avoid the smellier set of dreadlocked individuals who seemed to flock to my college (U.V.M.), but the joke was on me as I sat drenched in synthetics and chemicals from my hair sprayed hair to my painted toenails! The irony is that this health bulletin is coming from the girl/woman who would reapply the bulletproof "Secret" (before "Secret" it was "Teen Spirit," remember that stuff?!) 2-3 times a day...before a dance performance, after a dance performance, before softball, after softball, before that important test/presentation/meeting, after that important test/presentation/meeting. After all I couldn't risk SMELLING in front of friends/boyfriends/coworkers...*currently wincing for my poor body!* Then I became pregnant and started thinking more about what I put in and on my body...and how after my baby was born I would be feeding him/her from that very area where I was slathering very flowery junk (I didn't even know the half of the chemical implications at that point!).
First, a little info about the armpit area...it is loaded with lymph tissue/nodes. Your lymphatic system is basically in charge of your immunity. It pumps fluid (lymph) all around your body that creates immune cells and it kind of clears things out. That is why they (nodes/tissue) swell up when you are sick...they are working hard/fighting. They not only work against bacteria and viruses but cancer cells (and other big-time stuff) as well. I can't sum up everything your lymphatic system does, but trust me it is important! This is why clogging it up and overburdening it with chemicals is a problem. Then your system gets sluggish and is no longer working to keep your body protected and healthy.
Next, I urge you to look at the ingredient list (both active and inactive ingredients) on your deodorant/antiperspirant. Does it have aluminum? That is a metal that creates a toxic burden on the body. I was not surprised to test high for aluminum in my system, even years after not using antiperspirant. It is hard work to detox it out. How about talc? It is a carcinogen. Any triclosan, parabens, or phthalates? - All endocrine disruptors (think messing with hormones - and grounding in right next to your breasts, no less!) I could go on, but you get the picture. A while back I had read some statistic that left-sided breast cancer is more common, especially in right-handed women...one theory being that a righty would be more heavy-handed with deodorant on the left side. The left side is actually where I have a clogged lymph node under my 'pit that swells up and gets sore, especially when I am sick...that's proof enough for me! I also have "sluggish lymph" that I get drained/massaged once a month (more to come on that in another post).
After all of that (did I say I wasn't going to be so "wordy" anymore?! Oh well!)...the important part! What to do about it? You might be thinking, sure all of this coming from a stay-at-home-mom who can't be fired for offending her coworkers with her B.O.! Or from the younger peeps out there...you are probably wondering if I would suggest no 'pit coverage on a date. Well, here is the deal. Coming off from the "hard stuff" is a process, I'm not going to lie. I wouldn't suggest doing it during the heat of the Summer, either! I also find that what you eat and your overall health make a difference. After two years without conventional deodorant (and no antiperspirant) I just do not sweat as much anymore, and usually it doesn't smell like it used to. Granted, I have an extremely healthy diet, but when my illness flares-up or I catch a virus I notice that old familiar smell coming back. You also can't expect miracles from the natural stuff when you are exercising or under extreme stress/heat of some sort. You are going to get a little wet. However, when it comes to exercise you WANT to sweat...that is your body detoxing! For "special occasions" you might want to keep a travel-sized "big guns" deodorant on hand, but my goal is for you to get to the point where you won't even need that!
I have tried a few different brands of "alternative" deodorant, but there is one that stands way out above the rest, so I will save you the trouble! It is "Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream," and it is AMAZING when you consider that all of the ingredients are organic/food grade! It comes in a tiny tub (you might have to stir it up a little bit when you first get it), and you put a little pea-sized amount on your finger and gently rub it into your underarm area. It really doesn't take much, so it lasts me a very long time! I usually buy it from one of my all-time favorite retailers (www.spiritbeautylounge.com), because they frequently run deals, etc., but you can do a Google search to find it from a few other retailers as well. You might be thinking it is "pricey," but it really does last, and it is the #1 personal care product splurge I would URGE you to spend on. I started off using a different brand made by another company I love (www.natureofbeauty.com), which was okay, but not quite as good...and it appears they have stopped making it and now carry Soapwalla's, if that tells you anything! TRY IT! I also have a jar of "meow meow tweet" deodorant in my cabinet waiting to be tested...when I get to it I will let you know how it works! If you really want to be bold, I have read in many places that you can cut a slice of lemon and rub it on your 'pit. Haven't tried that one yet, but some swear by it!
There are lots of other "natural" deodorants out there, and I would encourage you to read labels closely and see what works for you (or find directions on how to make your own). Please also check the E.W.G. website (my #1 suggested resource for all of your personal care/household product decisions - www.ewg.org & specifically the cosmetics database = www.ewg.org/skindeep/) to see what safety rating each brand gets (notice that even within brands certain products get different ratings due to varying ingredients).PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take this advice seriously and try to make this change in your life. It is not just about breast cancer, it is about overall toxicity in your body...and if you are pregnant or nursing, to your baby as well. These toxins add up and create major problems, conditions, and illnesses in our bodies, because they simply cannot function at their best. Now you know better, so you can do better! It is up to you. Here is the first step you can take to a WHOLE, new you!
*UPDATE (1/8/2013):WOW! This post stirred up a lot of responses and discussion, and I have heard from a lot of people who are already making some changes! I am absolutely THRILLED and can't wipe the smile off from my face! I have also been asked specifically for product suggestions for men, so I wanted to be sure to throw a few out there, because I know their needs are different (especially when it comes to scents!)Here you go:1. "Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone" http://www.amazon.com/Thai-Deodorant-Stick.../dp/B000AN1JEI. I have heard great things about it, and it doesn't get much safer.If someone isn't "down" with the rock-type...a couple of other new-ish options that I have heard good things about are-2. Nourish Organics (Unscented) http://nourishorganic.com/.../products/organic-deodorantOR...3. Herban Cowboy http://www.herbancowboy.com.I plan to try the Nourish Organics product myself in the near future, and my husband wants to try the Thai Crystal, so we will let you know how it goes…and you do the same!
*UPDATE #2 (3/29/2017):I have been using Soapwalla and Meow Meow Tweet interchangeably since I wrote this blog, and I love them both. Recently I also tried Schmidt's, and I like that a lot, too! They have a Ylang Ylang scent, which is my favorite fragrance, so that makes it a real winner for me. I am excited to try their new "Charcoal & Magnesium" blend, because I am thinking that might help with pit detoxification and overall wellness. Good stuff! So many options out there...you no longer have to settle for slathering yourself with poison. YAY for that!!!