Hyperhidrosis – An Ayurvedic Perspective

Ayurveda aspect of Sweating (Sweda)

Sweda (Sweat) is the waste product of medho dhatu (adipose / fat tissue) and seat of Pitta dosha. Naturally in excess accumulation of fat in the body, the sweat is increased. When Pitta is aggravated the body heat increases and results in excessive sweating. Vyana vata (One among the 5 subtypes of Vata dosha, which governs circulation) is responsible for carrying the sweat to the surface of the skin.

Hot climate stimulates the sweat glands and causes excess sweating.

Exercise depletes medho dhatu (adipose / fat tissue) during which heat is produced causing sweating.

In fright, imbalance and aggravation of Vata dosha causes sweating.

Atisweda is the Ayurvedic term for Excessive sweating.

Common causes of hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) when generalized, is a physiological response to hot climates or physical exertion. It occurs during defervescence of fevers, active tuberculosis and acute rheumatism. Hyperhidrosis is usual in diabetes, menopause, obesity, hyperthyroidism, alcoholism, stroke, psychiatric medications, hypertension medications etc.

Types of Hyperhidrosis

There are two types of hyperhidrosis – primary and secondary. Primary hyperhisrosis is a medical condition but not a disease. Secondary hyperhydrosis is a condition where hyperhidosis is caused by some other medical condition or medication.

Hyperhidrosis can cause excessive, generalized sweating. Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition in which individuals experience excessive sweating from specific areas of the body such as armpits, palms and soles of feet. It is seen as a normal emotional response.

Ayurvedic management of Hyperhidrosis

In Ayurveda, the treatment of hyperhidrosis is usually in the form of local applications and internal medications (anti perspirants). Ayurvedic herbal treatment can be successfully utilized to treat overactive sweat glands, reduce stress and treat overactive sympathetic nervous system.

Swedapanayana herbs (Anti perspirants)

The herbs which reduce or stop sweating are called Swedapanayana herbs. Antiperspirants act by reducing the sweat gland secretion. They are predominant in cold and dry properties  which arrests sweating. These herbs are Ushira, Chandana, Kamala, Mustaka, Nagakesara, Padmakashta, etc. Ushira is one of the best anti perspirant herb and has fragrant smell. These herbs can be taken internally in the form of herbal liquids or tablets or powders and can be applied externally as paste.

Osmidrosis (Body odor)

The odor is produced from secretions of sebaceous glands and sweat glands. Decomposition of these secretions by the skin microflora and that of proteins on the surface of the skin, gives rise to numerous odorous substances often of strong smell. Bromhidrosis (Body odor) can be caused by many factors, one such factor is hyperhydrosis. The moist environment created by hyperhidrosis creates ideal conditions for an overgrowth of bacteria.

Deodarants for body odor

Deodorants are designed to reduce axillary odor. The deodorants reduce the axillary odor by reducing sweating in the axillae.

Numerous deodorant herbs are mentioned in Ayurveda texts that help alleviating bad body odor. They can be used as powders or besmeared as thin pastes all over the body. Commonly used deodorant herbs are Chandana, Ushira, Mustaka, Agaru, Kankola, Nagakesar, Jatamansi etc. They can be taken internally to reduce aggravated Pitta, thereby preventing bad odor. Simple guidelines to reduce excessive sweating and body odor

  • Bathe twice daily, which will help remove bacteria from the skin.
  • Scrub the armpits with triphala or green gram powder. It helps fight bacteria better than regular soaps. Alternatively one can use herbal ubtan (udwarthan) powder also.
  • Loose – fitting cotton fabrics are better than tight clothes.
  • Certain foods such as meat, onion, garlic and drinks such as coffee and alcohol can lead to body odor. So try to eliminate or restrict them in your diet.
  • Tobacco use causes body odor. So quit tobacco chewing.
  • Certain medicines also cause body odor. Check if body odor started after starting a medication and consult with your doctor for advice.