Sweat – nature’s temperature control

Thank goodness we are not lizards! Otherwise, we would need to warm up our bodies in the morning sun, until we reached operating temperature to get started and then, in the evening, we would slow down once again, as the coolness descends. Sweat is natural, sweat is healthy, and sweat shows our body is working as it should – but how much do we understand why it happens?

Human body temperature is kept constant by a series of tiny changes that either conserve heat – like shivering – or that reduce heat, which is where sweating comes in. Your body needs to run at a core temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius so that all its muscles, internal organs and especially the brain can work optimally. We have the largest brain in relation to body size of all mammals and it is especially sensitive to overheating. You could say: I think, therefore I sweat.

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Most of us produce about half a litre of sweat daily without realising it. Two million eccrine glands are distributed across our entire skin, from scalp to the soles of the feet, each giving off the liquid secretion that we call sweat. When this evaporates, our body cools down.

Ideally, everybody should sweat at least once a day, with sports, brisk walking or physical activity around the house all being good ways to work up a sweat. One of the healthy effects of sweat is to eliminate toxins, which emerge through sweat and should be ‘flushed through’ by drinking plenty of water - non-carbonated and without ice.

But as well as physical exertions leading to sweat, there are emotional and hormonal triggers. In situations, we wish we could avoid - like an unpleasant visit to the dentist, a difficult conversation at work, or a presentation to a large audience - an archaic survival mechanism kicks in. The body releases adrenaline, preparing for a possible escape or for conflict – ‘fight or flight’. Even if we don’t run away, our body is ready for it and cooled by the sweat of anxiety.

In early maturity, we get the first taste of the butterflies in the stomach, blushes and sweaty hands that come with falling in love. It’s a wonderful feeling that originates from stress. Once again adrenaline is released, quickening the heartbeat and pumping more oxygen through our body. This heady ‘alarm’ state is similar to the effects of fear, but now with added “happy hormones” dopamine, endorphin and serotonin. The mix brings a state of excitement, inspiration and bliss and we don’t feel like running away from that!

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Hormones have their effects later in life, too. For women, it’s menopause which marks the start of our last third of life. Now the body produces less temperature-regulating oestrogen, so the characteristic hot flushes and sweats emerge. Similar symptoms are experienced by some men as their testosterone levels drop. On a psychological level, this phase of life sees us confronted with our own mortality, questioning the meaning of life and becoming spiritually restless, causing us to sweat. For some people, this time also sees increased sensitivity to hot, strong spices such as chilli, pepper and garlic powder, or to stimulants like coffee and alcohol. This is a time to pay attention to your body, with relaxation routines, sufficient exercise and natural remedies to support you.

At any time of life, sweating is perfectly natural and it’s not, in itself, usually offensive. But sweat harbours bacteria and, in a society less and less tolerant of natural processes, strong odours from sweat are not just unwanted, but seen as positively anti-social. Most of us will go to great lengths to mask or remove them.

With Weleda roll-on deodorants, the natural sweating process is allowed to continue its essential job, but the odour is inhibited. Our 24-hour Roll-ons are formulated with certified natural ingredients like natural liquorice root extract, known for its soothing, antimicrobial properties, and natural astringent witch hazel distillate, which also helps to calm the skin. The new roll-ons from Weleda are available in two natural scents, both easy to apply, dermatologically tested and free from antiperspirant ingredients, synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives or parabens. They contain no aluminium salts and offer natural freshness without altering your body’s sweating function. Try Citrus Deodorant to awaken your senses with top notes of lemon and litsea cubeba, and a woody heart note of petitgrain (bitter orange). Or how about Weleda Men – an invigorating, masculine scent that combines herbal and woody notes of rosemary with fresh litsea cubeba and vetiver essential oils.

As well as these handy additions to the Weleda Deodorant range, Weleda’s popular Spray Deodorants have undergone a make-over. The well-loved Citrus, Sage and Wild Rose sprays have been redesigned and reformulated for even greater effectiveness.