Woodford Files: On The Health Benefits of Sweating; The Hazards of Cortisone

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Summer is a prime time to flush out old residues of the past and lighten our toxic load. As solar rays intensify, an array of chemicals like pthalates and heavy metals are sweated out as we jog, bike, and walk around town. Supporting the body’s urge to purge like this is an easy way to optimize our well being.

So imagine my horror upon reading an article by a dermatologist advising people to use “a combination of antiperspirant and deodorant” to reduce the amount of sweat released while riding one’s bike to work. Yikes. Bad advice. Granted, nobody wants to be stinky when they get to work after a hot commute, but there’s no need to slather underarm lymph nodes with aluminum-laced antiperspirants. In fact, clogging up lymph drainage sites can increase the risk of both breast and lymphatic cancer as the body chokes on its own toxins and the pathways of elimination become inflamed.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Aluminum salts can mimic the hormone estrogen, and chemicals that imitate estrogen are known to increase breast cancer risk. Animal studies have also found that aluminum can cause cancer. Aside from vaccinations, your antiperspirant may be your largest source of exposure to this poisonous metal!  (See: “Are Aluminum-Containing Antiperspirants Contributing To Breast Cancer In Women?” posted at https://tinyurl.com/qeyxltn)

Sweating is a great way to detox the body. Fortunately, there are easy ways to enjoy the benefits of sweating without the stench, if you follow a few guidelines.


1) Avoid meat. Eating meat makes your sweat smell bad. Changing over to a chlorophyll-rich vegetarian diet in summer acts as a natural deodorizer. Check out our feature on vegan outdoor dining in this issue for great picnic ideas.

2) Use essential oils. I like to mix 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 3 drops of tea tree oil, and 10 drops of bergamot or lime together in a small spray bottle. Then fill up the bottle with spring water and shake. This combo works as a great deodorizer when spritzed on the underarms.

3) Use the deodorizing power of baking soda. I like Bob’s Red Mill organic baking soda – just dust a light handful on your underarms before heading off to work, and you’ll feel dry and fresh all day.

The body also purges itself through skin eruptions. As the air heats up, skin tends to break out in hives, rashes, melanomas, and more. In holistic medicine, these eruptions are considered as valuable indicators of the body’s internal state, to be used as guideposts for exploring underlying causes. Most often, it is the fires of inflammation that underlie the body’s eruptions. And if these are suppressed, bad things happen.

For example, in his book Radical Healing, author Dr. Rudolph Ballentine states that physicians of the ‘old school’ called asthma “eczema on the inside.” This is because the physicians, upon investigating the childhood of their asthma patients, discovered that these patients often had suffered from eczema at a young age. This skin condition had then been treated with cortisone cream or steroids until it disappeared. But although the eczema (inflammation) did disappear, it was not cured. Cortisone is a powerful immune suppressant which had worked to drive the eczema deep into the body where it eventually settled in the lungs, and turned into asthma.

This month we carry Natural Alternatives to Cortisone by Dr. Zoltan Rona on what can go wrong when corticosteroids are used to ‘clear up’ various skin diseases and other health issues. Because these powerful drugs work by driving the inflammation from the surface deep into the body, once the inflammation has settled into these deeper layers the heatlh problems that result can be far more serious than the original skin condition. Thankfully, there are effective nutritional medicine strategies which are safer and more effective in the long run.

Julia Woodford, Editor, Vitality Magazine

Attention readers: We are interested in exploring the asthma / eczema question further. We would like to know if you ever suffered from eczema as a child and were treated with cortisone creams or puffers. Send your feedback to: editorial@vitalitymagazine.com


Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 35 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the Vitality website. She is also the former Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from National Nutrition. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by National Nutrition.

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