Sweating Out Your Toxins

Can you sweat out toxins?

The guy next to me on the bike yesterday morning was working like Lance Armstrong in training; he had laid towels on the floor to absorb the impressive perspiration he was generating.

He shouted over to me: “I’m hitting it hard to cleanse out the toxins from last night. Too much Captain Morgan and Buffalo wings, ya know?”

“Really,” I said.

“Actually, I’m a dermatologist, and sweat does not contain any toxins,” I said to myself so that he could not hear. (Gym decorum dictates men do not correct men in the middle of a workout — especially if prefaced by “Actually, I’m a dermatologist”). I left him to his aerobics and wrote this post in my head while I finished mine.

You might not want to believe me, but it’s fact: you cannot sweat out toxins. Sweat is composed of 99% water and a tiny percent of salt, urea, proteins and carbohydrates. Salt, proteins and carbohydrates are natural. Urea is a by-product of protein metabolism and is non-toxic. It’s regulated to keep your blood at a healthy pH. Most excess urea is eliminated in urine (hence the name) and a small amount is in sweat.

Toxins like mercury, chemicals, alcohol, drugs, and spicy BBQ sauce are eliminated by your liver and intestines.

Sweat glands, all 2.6 million of them, regulate your temperature — they’re not designed to expel toxins.

The primary ingredient in sweat is pure water. The water evaporates from your skin, cooling you. Excess sweating doesn’t eliminate excess salt or help hangovers. By forcing your body to copiously perspire, you’re only forcing your kidneys to save water (and ironically actual toxins) elsewhere. The water that ends up in the towel on the floor is the precious water you needed to stay hydrated, not a puddle of poison.

In some ways sweat is the opposite of toxic, it’s a vital fluid. When you are working out hard, replace it. I recommend water, not Captain Morgan Rum.

Photo: Lafrancevi

Behold, The Holy Grail of Wrinkle Creams: A Topical Botox

You think Apple’s new 4G iPhone is hot?

I was at a coffee bar in Redwood City yesterday, minding my own business when I found a tube of medication. Someone had accidently left a tube of topical Botox at the bar. Was this a plant? Is this the real prototype or just a fake? What should DermodoDoc do? I just had to blog on it.

Botulinum toxin is the most common cosmetic treatment with millions of patients injected every year. Brand names like Botox and Dysport are injectable drugs that cause temporary paralysis of the muscles in your face smoothing wrinkles, sometimes dramatically.

Injected botulinum toxin is also a good treatment for excess sweating in your underarms or on your hands, which is called hyperhidrosis. The toxin blocks the signals that turn on sweating thereby preventing you from sweating.

Up to now, the only way to use Botox has been to inject it. That may change. There is a topical botulinum toxin gel being developed. If the toxin could penetrate the skin, then  it could work without having to be injected, which is a good thing since there are people out there who really don’t like needles. Topical botulinum toxin would likely be most effective in places where the skin is thin, such as the underarms. Getting enough medication to penetrate your forehead might be difficult. How effective it will be for treating wrinkles is yet to be seen.

We will have to wait to see when the product is finally released. Until then, I’m waiting for Steve Jobs to call me personally to ask for his Botox back. It must be his, right?

Photo: Izaeus |Argazkiak, flickr