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We've all gone through moments where our scent suddenly becomes strong and apparent, and we aren't exactly sure why. It's confusing when these scents seem to come out of no where, but ancient medicine can help us decipher what these smells mean. There are certain changes in body odor that can tell you a lot about your health, according to Chinese Medicine. Your scent can oftentimes be connected to your health, and looking at some ideas behind eastern medicine can help pinpoint exactly what's going on with you and your odors.
For those who are unfamiliar, Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on mind-body healing, and is based on the principles of yin and yang, opposite elements that must exist in balance for a healthy qi, or life energy. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine can assess health issues by looking for disturbances in this balance, which can cause changes in body odor.
"In Chinese Medicine, we learn to begin the diagnosing process from the moment the patients walks through the door," Mona Dan, LAc., MTOM, herbalist, acupuncturist and founder of Vie Healing, tells Bustle. "We pay close attention to the type of smell that radiates from the patient, if there is one present. The scent of the patients can tell us information about whats going on internally and how their organs are processing."
Because health is holistic, it can be useful to look at body odor and what it can potentially mean. Of course, if you are experiencing severe and unexplained body odor, you should always see a medical professional. But if you're experiencing some minor scent changes and want to know what they mean, pay attention to these seven unexpected things your body odor is trying to tell you, according to Chinese Medicine.
1. Your Digestive System Is Off
Traditional Chinese Medicine experts say that general body odor can be a good indicator that your digestive system is off. "You may not have the right probiotics or gut bacteria to digest food," integrative health expert Dr. Taz Bhatia, author of Super Woman RX, tells Bustle. "Or you may have too much yeast or candida that causes body odor." If probiotics are to blame, integrating more things like Greek yogurt, fermented foods, or probiotic supplements into your lifestyle can help.
2. You're Stressed Or Anxious
A general body odor that resembles a smokey or burnt smell can indicate a heart imbalance. In Chinese Medicine, the heart is the ruler of our mental activity and consciousness, so an imbalance can lead to issues such as stress, anxiety, or insomnia. "With a heart imbalance, they may have a smell similar to smoke or a burning smell, which is related to the fire element," Neka Pasquale, licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, author, and the founder of Urban Remedy, tells Bustle. Stress can drive your cortisol and trigger body odor, according to Dr. Bhatia.
Because fire element represents love and the affairs of the heart, you can help find balance by managing stress and emotions and cultivating your social relationships.
3. You Have Issues In The Liver & Gallblader
Rancid body odors are related to the liver and gallbladder. "These imbalances are related to the wood element," says Pasquale. "They may have a smell that is similar to rancid/oxidized oil. [The patient] may also complain of irritability and feeling angry." The wood element has to do with flow, including planning and decision making. Drinking too much alcohol and eating greasy, hot and spicy foods can also make this imbalance worse, so it may be a good idea to refrain from these types of food if you notice this problem. Physical exercise can also help as well.
4. You Have Spleen Issues
A sweet smelling body odor, sometimes similar to spoiled flowers, is related to the spleen meridian — a side area of your body that has to do with managing your thoughts and intentions. This smell also corresponds with the earth element, says Pasquale, which represents how grounded and connected to the earth you are. "This odor is associated with dampness," she says. "Damp diets (pork, low fat and high carbohydrate, high dairy/soy) can worsen this imbalance. This person may also have water retention and feel bloated and overwhelming worry." Eating foods that drain this damp feeling, such as asparagus, daikon, lettuce, and pumpkin, are helpful.
5. You Have A Lung/Large Intestine Imbalance
A rotten smelling body odor may be related to a lung or large intestine imbalance. "This is related to the metal element," says Pasquale. This element has to do with how long we hold on to emotions such as grief. "You may have a dry cough or phlegm in the lungs or issues of constipation or diarrhea," she says. Regaining balance involves letting go of emotions, clearing out our minds and belongings, and purifying the soul, such as spending time in fresh air.
6. You Have Kidney Issues
Putrid body odors, similar to the smell of ammonia or sea water, are related to the kidneys and the water element, which has to do with birth, regrowth, and development. "You may feel extremely fatigued ... and [have] feelings of fear," says Pasquale." Regaining energy and willpower can help bring your water element back into balance, and activities such as walking, running ,or eating warm, nourishing foods can help restore your kidneys.
7. You're Not Processing Your Emotions
If you're not dealing with your emotions, it may come out in the form of body odor, according to Dan. "A Rancid smell is associated with a someone who isn't processing their anger and decision-making well," she says. "A sweet smell is associated with a person who can't digest emotions, foods, and thoughts well — people who are in their heads because emotions aren't processing well." Speaking with a loved one, or even a therapist, may help you to better deal with emotions you are having trouble expressing. Meditation is also another great tool to help clear the mind of negative thoughts.
While most body odor changes shouldn't be cause for alarm, with the help of Chinese Medicine, you can help detect these minor changes and what they may say about your health overall.