Excessive Sweating: Causes of Hyperhidrosis and Natural Strategies
Everyone sweats. It’s essential for balanced normal body temperature and detoxification. However, sweating too much can become a problem. About 15.3 million people in the US experience excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis (1).
Excessive sweating can seriously interfere with your everyday life. Yet over a quarter of people with excessive sweating never seek help (2). You don’t have to accept excessive sweating as your normal. There are natural support strategies that can improve your health.
In this article, you will learn about excessive sweating. You will understand its signs and symptoms, risk factors, and functional root cause factors. I will go over conventional treatment strategies for excessive sweating. I will also share my top natural support strategies for excessive sweating.
What Is Excessive Sweating
Sweating is completely normal and absolutely necessary. Your body always strives to maintain a normal body temperature. Sweating may occur to cool your body and prevent overheating. However, excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis can become a problem.
According to a 2016 report published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, about 15.3 million people in the United States alone experience excessive sweating (1). Excessive sweating can develop with or without any physical, physiological, thermal, mental, or emotional trigger. Symptoms can range from mild dampness to more a severe case of a dripping wet situation.
Even though excessive sweating can seriously impact one life, a large number of people never seek help. According to a 2013 study published in Dermatology, only about 27 percent of the 2,340 participants with excessive sweating sought medical attention and only 28 percent used any self-medication or prescription-strength support (2).
Don’t let embarrassment hold you back from addressing excessive sweating. Later in this article, I will offer some natural support strategies that may help to improve excessive sweating naturally.
Signs & Symptoms of Excessive Sweating
Signs and symptoms of excessive sweating:
- Visible sweating
- Dampness or sweat marks on clothes
- Uncomfortable dampness or wetness in the underarms, hands, feet, scalp, or groin area
- Peeling or white skin where the sweating occurs
- Athlete’s foot and other skin infections
- Severe sweating that may interfere with daily tasks
- Anxiety, withdrawing from social interactions, and other mental, emotional, or social effects of sweating
- Night sweats in secondary hyperhidrosis
There are two types of excessive sweating: primary hyperhidrosis and secondary hyperhidrosis. Primary hyperhidrosis normally starts in childhood or during the adolescent years. It may affect one or several areas of your body, usually your underarms, hands, feet, or forehead.
It is more common after waking up and rarely occurs during nighttime unless your bedroom is too hot. Primary hyperhidrosis generally happens without a specific trigger, underlying health issue, medication, or supplement.
Secondary hyperhidrosis tends to affect all areas of the body instead of just one or a few specific areas. It often occurs while you are sleeping as well.
Secondary hyperhidrosis usually occurs because of an underlying health issue, medication, or supplement.
Risk Factors for Hyperhidrosis
Sweating is a physiological reaction caused by communications between nerves that try to balance your body’s temperature. However, these nerves can overreact for a variety of reasons that may lead to excessive sweating. There are a variety of issues that may increase the risk or trigger your symptoms.
Risk factors for hyperhidrosis may include:
- Family history
- Overactive sympathetic nerves
- Hypothyroidism or Graves’ disease
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Social anxiety disorder
- Head trauma
- Mercury poisoning
- Tumors or cancer
- Certain medications and supplements
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Hot sauce
- Curry, cumin, or other spices
- Alcohol or other substance withdrawal
Functional Root Cause Factors
Now that you understand the causes and risk factors of excessive sweating, let’s talk about some of the functional root cause factors that may contribute to excessive sweating. These factors are not always the root causes that directly cause your symptoms, but these health factors are often associated with excessive sweating.
Symptoms don’t happen in a vacuum. Various issues in your body affect each other. Understanding and addressing these functional root cause factors is critical and can help to improve your health.
If you have insulin resistance, it means that your body is unable to respond to insulin as it should and is also unable to use your blood glucose (blood sugar) for energy. To overcompensate for this problem, your pancreas will start producing more and more insulin. The problem is that over time this can result in high blood glucose levels, prediabetes, and diabetes.
A 2017 article published in Practical Diabetes has found that night sweat can develop because of hypoglycemia or low blood glucose levels (3). At night, your body uses energy from blood glucose.
When glucose levels are too low, your body may start to make extra adrenaline that may lead to night sweats. This can develop in people who are taking insulin or other medications for diabetes, such as sulfonylureas, and people with serious blood glucose imbalance and fluctuations.
The review has also found that 69 percent of those with diabetic nephropathy and 36 percent of those with diabetic neuropathy experience excessive sweating after eating certain foods. Cheese and spicy food are the most common food triggers, however, any other foods may cause sudden excessive sweating. Other people with diabetes may also experience excessive sweating without a clear trigger or cause.
Menopause is part of the normal cycle of a woman’s life. It’s the time when their period stop completely, usually after the age 45 with the average age being 51. As a woman reaches menopause, their ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone. Once a woman goes without a period for one entire year, they officially reach menopause.
Hot flashes, sweating, and night sweats are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. According to a 2015 review published in the Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of North America, hot flashes and night sweats tend to last for an average of 5.2 years in menopausal women (4).
They found loss of estrogen can lead to thermoregulation problems that may cause hot flashes. Changes in estradiol follicle-hormone stimulating (FHS) hormone levels, and consequent decrease in serotonin may also contribute to hot flashes and night sweats.
These hormonal changes lead to a feeling of sudden warmth, possible flushing, and sudden excessive sweating. Symptoms may vary from woman to woman. Some women may only experience occasional bouts of hot flashes, while others may experience it several times a day.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for your bone, muscle, immune, brain, and other areas of your health. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to a number of unwanted symptoms and health problems. Excessive sweating is one of these potential symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.
A 2015 review published in Menopause Review has found that vitamin D deficiency can lead to excessive sweating and night sweats (5). Heavy forehead sweating is particularly common with vitamin D deficiency. According to the review, vitamin D deficiency is common among post-menopausal women, which may also explain why hot flashes and night sweats occur in menopause.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is one of the many B vitamins. It’s a water-soluble vitamin important for your metabolism, brain and mental health, blood, nerve, and cellular health. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are quite common. Vegans and vegetarians are at the highest risk without supplementation, however, they often develop among those who consume meat and other animal products as well.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies can lead to an array of health issues, including excessive sweating. According to a 2014 case report published in the Scottish Medical Journal, vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to night sweats (6).
Researchers found that participants responded well to vitamin B12 supplementation resulting in less nighttime sweating. Since night sweats are common among menopausal women, vitamin B12 deficiency may worsen their symptoms.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals are just one of the many environmental toxins that you may encounter during your life. Mercury, for example, is present in dental amalgam fillings. These mercury fillings can lead to an array of chronic health issues without most people realizing it.
Lead may be present in batteries, paint, cosmetics, automobile exhaust, shellfish, non-organic legumes or leafy greens, and conventional red meat. Arsenic can be found in pesticides, smoking tobacco, wood preservatives, and contaminated food and water.
Cadmium may be present in plastic, furniture with fire retardants, mining processes, tobacco, liver, shellfish, and contaminated water. Copper is present in wires, pipes, textile preservatives, and some organ meats and shellfish.
Heavy metal toxicity can result in a lot of chronic symptoms and serious health problems. According to a 2012 systematic review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium can be found in the sweat of people with higher heavy metal toxin exposure (7). Sweating is one of your body’s ways of detoxifying. In order to eliminate these toxins from your body, heavy metal toxicity may lead to excessive sweating.
Food Sensitivities & Intolerances
Unlike food allergies that cause a sudden and more serious reaction, such as hives, puffiness, and breathing difficulties, food sensitivities and food intolerances can sneak up on you. If you eat something that you are sensitive to, you may not notice a reaction until hours or days later. If you consume this food regularly, it will result in a chronic inflammatory response and chronic symptoms.
You may be surprised, but food sensitivities may be the reason behind your excessive sweating. To protect you from perceived harm, your sympathetic nervous system may go into overdrive and active mechanisms that are there to protect you from harm. Sweating is one of these protective mechanisms. If you are consuming foods that you are sensitive to on a regular basis, it can lead to excess and ongoing production of sweat.
Certain foods, such as spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and cheese are common culprits behind sweating (3). Gluten may be another. According to a 2017 study published in Global Pediatric Health, gluten can activate stress and night sweats in those with celiac disease (8).
Chinese Medicine – Too Much Heat
We may also look at excessive sweating from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) standpoint. According to TCM, sweat helps to harmonize, balance, and regulate your internal and external body. It helps to reduce pathogens, decrease the risk of disease, and nourish the skin.
Sweat is transformed by yang qi evaporating body fluid then leave through sweat pores. Excessive sweating, however, can deplete your body fluid and blood leading to imbalance and health issues. According to TCM, excessive sweating may develop because of a yin deficiency and too much heat. According to a 2014 paper published in Medical Acupuncture, acupuncture and herbs for anxiety may help to reduce excessive sweating (9).
Hyperhidrosis is usually diagnosed by a dermatologist after a physical exam and understanding your symptoms. To rule out any underlying health conditions, your doctor may order some additional tests or refer you to other specialists. If you have secondary hyperhidrosis due to a side effect of a medication or supplement, changing them may help to reduce your symptoms.
To reduce excessive sweating, there are a variety of options (10):
- Antiperspirants: Prescription-strength antiperspirants work by plugging your sweat gland preventing or reducing sweat production. The problem is that sweating is important and you don’t want it to stop completely. These antiperspirants are also full of chemicals that may harm your body in other ways.
- Prescription medication: Prescription medication help to prevent all of your sweat glands from producing too much or any sweat. These medications can be quite risky because without proper sweating, your body will have a hard time controlling its temperature and cooling itself when it gets too hot.
- Iontophoresis: Iontophoresis is a medical device that used low-voltage currents through water while you are soaking your hands and feet to shut your sweat glands down temporarily.
- Botulinum toxin injections: When used for excessive sweating, botox injections are used to stimulate your sweat glands and reduce sweating for 4 to 6 months. However, botox is a toxic chemical and it can also cause muscle weakness where it’s injected.
- Surgical options: Liposuction, excision, laser surgery, or scraping, may be recommended in serious cases to remove your sweat glands from your underarm area. Sympathectomy under anesthesia may be used to manipulate certain nerves to stop excessive sweating.
- Electromagnetic energy treatments: Electromagnetic energy treatments use a hand-held medical device that uses electromagnetic energy to kill sweat glands. This is a relatively newly approved treatment and the long-term results and side effects are not yet clear.
Natural Support Strategies
As you can see, conventional treatment options are not without risks. Natural support strategies can help to address functional root cause factors and improve your overall health. Here is what I recommend:
Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Plan
Poor nutrition can contribute to insulin resistance, vitamin deficiencies, and other health issues that may contribute to excessive sweating. A 2016 study published in Industrial Health has also found that excessive sweating can increase micronutrient loss through sweat which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and various health issues (11).
I recommend that you remove any inflammatory and triggering foods from your diet, including refined sugar, refined oils, artificial ingredients, additives, deep-fried foods, junk food, and highly processed foods.
Follow a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods with healthy fats such as avocados, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olives and olive oil. I recommend eating lots of greens, vegetables, herbs, low-glycemic index fruits, fermented foods, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish, and wild game.
Reduce Food Sensitivities & Intolerances
Food sensitivities and intolerances may increase your risk of excessive sweating (8). Reducing food sensitivities may help. Common food sensitivities include sugar, gluten, eggs, shellfish, seafood, soy, corn, and nightshade veggies including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers.
Common foods that can trigger excessive sweating include spices, chocolate, coffee, and cheese (3). However, you may find that you have other food sensitivities.
I recommend using the combination of a pulse test, muscle testing, and an elimination diet to identify your food sensitivities. Once you find them, remove them from your diet. Since food sensitivities can change over time, I recommend performing these tests every year or if new symptoms or health issues occur.
Consider Eating More Cooling Foods
According to Chinese medicine too much warmth, including from warming foods may cause an imbalance and excessive sweating (9). To help balance your body, I recommend eating more cooling foods, including green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and kale, raw (uncooked) vegetables, bitter herbs, including mustard greens, dandelion greens, and chicory, sweet fruits, such as strawberries and watermelon, and cold drinks, such as iced water and peppermint tea.
Proteins that are more cooling include fish and poultry, whereas red meat is warming and should be limited. You may also want to reduce warming fruits, vegetables and herbs. This would include things such as onion, garlic, ginger, pungent spices, mango, oranges, tomatoes, peppers, chocolate and coffee.
Good hydration is important for all of us. However, if you are experiencing excessive sweating, you are using more fluids and minerals than normal, making good hydration critical. I recommend that you start your day with 16 to 32 oz. of clean, purified water.
Drink throughout the day, aiming for at least 1 glass per hour. Consume lots of hydrating vegetables, green juices, green smoothies, and herbal tea for extra hydration and to compensate for any micronutrient loss.
Reduce Stress & Improve Sleep Quality
Sweating is one of your body’s natural responses to stress. If you are experiencing chronic stress, anxiety, or poor sleep, your body may respond with chronic excessive sweating. Excessive sweating, however, can also increase stress, anxiety, and poor sleep.
A 2019 research presented at the American Academy of Annual Meeting has found that excessive sweating can cause a lot of stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts in sufferers (12). Night sweats can also interrupt your sleep and increase fatigue, stress, and symptoms.
I recommend that you reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep quality. Practice meditation, gratitude, breathwork, guided relaxation, and journaling. Spend time in nature, spend quality time with supportive people, and also have some dedicated me-time.
Avoid food, electronics, alcohol, and stress at least two to three hours before going to bed. Make sure that your bedroom is a peaceful sanctuary with supportive bedding, blackout curtains, and a sleep-promoting calm atmosphere.
Acupuncture uses the wisdom of Chinese medicine. Practitioners use small needles in specific trigger points of your body to recreate flow and balance and reduce health issues.
A 2014 paper published in Medical Acupuncture has found that acupuncture may help to reduce excessive sweating (9). You may want to consider acupuncture to regain your body’s internal balance and reduce your symptoms.
Optimize Vitamin D & B12 Levels
Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies can also contribute to excessive sweating (5, 6). I recommend that you optimize your vitamin D levels by airing vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 helps improve calcium absorption and inflammation control.
Pairing vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 helps improve calcium absorption and inflammation control. I recommend taking a vitamin D3 supplement with at least 3,000-5,000 IU’s of vitamin D3 and at least 90 mcg of vitamin K2. For a supplement with the proper ratios, I highly recommend this Vitamin D3/K2 Power
Typically, taking 1,000 IU per 25 lbs. of body weight will help you get your levels into a healthy range. You want to test your vitamin D levels at least 1-2 times each year and get your levels between 50-100 ng/ml. It has been hypothesized that a therapeutic level for major health conditions is going to be between 70-100 ng/ml.
For optimal B12 levels, you want to get your levels between 800-2000 pg/ml. In order to optimize your levels, be sure to support good stomach acid levels and eat grass-fed animal products. If you are still low, consider taking a good methylated B complex such as B Strong or if you aren’t absorbing B12, you can do a high dose sublingual form such as B12 Power
Open Up Detoxification Pathways
Heavy metal toxicity can lead to excessive sweating (7). Environmental toxins and poor food choices can also clog your system increasing the need for detoxication. Of course, sweating is one of the best ways to detoxify your body, but if you are experiencing excessive sweating, you have to support other detoxification pathways as well.
Drink plenty of water to support detoxification through urine, sweat, and help bowel movements. Support your lymphatic flow through dry brushing and rebounding. Use good oral health strategies that you can learn about here and consider doing a liver, kidney or colon cleanse. If you are interested in a specific liver cleanse read this article, if you want to do a kidney cleanse read this article and for a colon cleanse read this article.
Use Bioactive Carbon Minerals and Binders
Since heavy metal toxicity can increase the risk of excessive sweating, using BioActive Carbon Minerals and Bioactive Carbon Binders can be a helpful way pull out toxins from your body (7). Bioactive carbon minerals and binders are derived from multiple sources of humic acid, fulvic acid, and ulmic acid.
The properties used are derivatives from all sources including multiple extracts of polyelectrolytes, polysaccharides, amino acids, and organic acids. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has found that humic acid can help to absorb and remove heavy metals and toxins (13).
Use Baking Soda and Lemon
Baking soda is a great water-absorbing agent. It is also very alkaline and helps to reduce bacteria in your sweat. It’s not surprising that many natural deodorants use baking soda as an ingredient. The acidity in lemon can also reduce sweating and improve smell as well. You can mix baking soda with water and/or lemon juice to create a paste.
Make sure that your underarms are clean and dry before applying it. Use it each night then rinse it off after about 30 minutes. Leaving it too long can cause irritation. You may also try to rub half a lemon on your skin and rinse it off after 30 minutes.
Try Using Chamomile, Sage, and Witch Hazel Tea
Chamomille, sage, and witch hazel are natural astringents and antiperspirants. They naturally close your pour and reduce sweating. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Inflammation, witch hazel also offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits (14).
Put some chamomile, sage, or witch hazel tea on a cotton ball. Apply it to the area that sweats the most. You can use it on your underarm but you can also apply it to your head and face before going to bed. Let it sit for a while then wash it off.
Try Using Black Cohosh & Schisandra
If you are experiencing excessive sweating, especially during menopause, taking black cohosh or schisandra supplements may help. Black cohosh is often used for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
According to a 2018 comparative study published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion, black cohosh can reduce menopausal hot flashes and sweating (15). Schisandra is often used for reducing inflammation and improving adrenal and liver function. According to a 2016 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, schisandra can be effective for hot flashes and sweating in menopause (16).
Dry Brushing & Natural Body Care
To improve detoxification and reduce your symptoms, I also recommend dry brushing and using natural body care products. Dry brushing supports detoxification and lymphatic health.
I recommend buying a soft natural body brush and brushing your skin before your shower daily. Make sure to always go in the direction of your heart to support your body’s natural lymphatic flow. Take a shower after dry brushing to wash away all the dead skin cells.
I highly recommend the Akamai Body Care Kit. This kit can help to improve detoxification, skin microbiome, and skin health. It includes no synthetic or naturally derived chemicals, cheap fillers, dyes, or fragrances.
These products contain only pure, minimally processed, and natural ingredients. You will find a 3 in 1 (shampoo, shower, and shave) all-natural soap bar, skin fuel for your body and hair, a black balm to repair and nourish your skin, a dry brush for detoxification, and a fulvic mineral complex to optimize your health.
About 15.3 million people in the US experience excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis, yet over a quarter never seek support (1, 2). Excessive sweating doesn’t have to be your normal. I recommend trying my top natural support strategies for excessive sweating to improve your health and well-being.
If you want to work with a functional health coach, I recommend this article with tips on how to find a great coach. Our website offers long-distance functional health coaching programs with our world-class team of health coaches. For further support with your health and other goals, just reach out—our fantastic coaches are here to support your journey.