Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is Your Stomach Making You Stinky?

If you battle body odor, the answer may be in your gut. A study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that the same bacteria that can lead to stomach ulcers can also cause certain types of body odor.

Helicobacter pylori is found in the stomachs of about 50% of the population in the Western world. Out of these 50%, 80% show no symptoms.  This bacteria seeks out a neutral place to thrive away from stomach acid and it adheres to the stomach's internal wall. When an overgrowth of this bacteria occurs, it causes gastritis and ulcers. It can also infect the intestinal tract, leading to IBS.

So, now, what does this have to do with body odor?

When H pylori thrives in the stomach, it produces high amounts of an enzyme called urease, which breaks down urea (which exists naturally in the stomach). Urea then breaks down in to carbon dioxide and ammonia, which then is released in to the bloodstream, and then released through sweat. Most people have ammonia in their sweat, however people infected with H pylori will have higher amounts of it.

So, if you're one of those people that has a hard time with pungent odors, or experience odor shortly after cleansing, it may be ammonia in your sweat caused by H pylori in your stomach.

If you suspect that you have H pylori and have symptoms of ulcers or other gastric symptoms, visit your doctor for a complete diagnosis and treatment options.  Probiotics have been found to help ease the symptoms and control the growth of H pylori, so you may look at this as an option with your doctor.

(High levels of ammonia in sweat can also be caused by the body's inability to fully break down protein, a condition called proteinuria. Low-carb, high protein diets can also be the cause, as consuming more protein than the body can metabolize can also lead to elevated serum levels of ammonia, and thus in sweat. If you suspect that you have proteinurea, it is a serious condition; please seek medical attention.)


[This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.]


mary said...

i looked at the studies you used as reference. one was 19 years old. Not one study was about body odor. they all discussed gastric ulcers and Irritable bowel syndrome. I can not believe for one minute you read those articles. They discussed a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori.What on earth caused this scientifically ignorant blog? I searched the web for any journal that supports your blog to no avail. I found even Wikipedia had nothing to say. all i saw was anecdotal claims which are not science. Do not site 19 year old articles especially when you have not read them.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Hi Mary,

I'll be happy to include some additional source material, and have done so above. As with ALL of our articles, the research is thorough and well-understood before posting. Though your comment is, let's say, a bit impolite, I do think you have brought to light the fact that this article should include some further sources, which has now been done. You'll note a link to a study of the direct correlation of ammonia in blood and sweat levels, as well as a study about ammonia in the sweat of those on low-carb diets. In regards to the 1994 study, it hasn't been dis-proven and is still valid in regards to how H pylori functions in the body.

In regards to Wikipedia, since that's a source that you go to, read the article about H pylori. "H. pylori produces large amounts of the enzyme urease, molecules of which are localized inside and outside of the bacterium. Urease breaks down urea (which is normally secreted into the stomach) to carbon dioxide and ammonia."

Anonymous said...


drake911opr said...


I agree that whoever posted the first post was way less than polite. It always amazes me how people thrive on disagreement. If I don't believe what someone else does then I just move on. When I read your article my though was "hmmm, interesting". I say that because I have GERDS and I have bad body odor (which I will say your deo's keep at bay really well). So, this article interested me. Thanks for all the research you do.

Unknown said...

Geez Mary. Be nice!

Thanks for the article Stephanie. My wife thought I should read it! Lol. Guess it's time for me to start taking probiotics on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your polite response to Mary's less than polite comment and thank you for providing additional information. Both were very much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

This is true. Gastrointestinal problems are able to provoke bad breath and body odor. Even what we eat makes us to smell like that, for example garlic, when you eat lots of garlic and then you sweat, it smells like garlic. Besides this, there are plenty of articles all over the web about the relationship between GI conditions and body odor. So I think that before judging, Mary should make her own research first. Stephany is just trying to deliver valuable information to all of us.

VeryThorough said...

Stephanie, thanks for the increased detail in your comment. One thing I noticed, though, is that the wikipedia quote you include contradicts what you say in your post. It doesn't change your final point, but the wikipedia quote is more correct. In you post, you say that urease breaks down into urea, which then breaks down into CO2 and ammonia, but in reality (and as you quoted from wikipedia), the urea exists separately, and the urease is what breaks it down into CO2 and ammonia.

It's a small point, but hey, you might as well get it right!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Now corrected. :)

Anonymous said...

I find it slightly ironic that you accused the publisher of being ignorant. That is exactly the thought that crossed my mind about you while reading your unnecessarily aggressive and inaccurate post. Not sure what caused you to feel so strongly about this subject, or the need to attract the writer. Who is clearly just trying to share info that might help people. Shame on you.

Bee-ing honest said...

It never fails to amuse me when someone decides to verbally reprimand the author of an article for being wrong/ignorant/etc., yet does so by way of a post riddled with capitalization and spelling errors.

I would also like to point out that Wikipedia is hardly considered a reputable source by knowledgeable people. In fact, most often, those who use Wikipedia as a source of information are chided by readers, for the lack of reputable sourcing. Why? I will explain (for Mary) The fact that Wikipedia articles may be altered by anyone who chooses to, means there are times the information is accurate, and times it is not.

Stephanie's polite response doesn't surprise me. From what I've read, she seems to be a classy lady!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Although I don't have any ulcers or other gastric symptoms, I do have an issue with bo. Your deodorant works better than the toxic stuff you can get at the local stores.

Cori said...

After reading this.... I only want to eat good-smelling foods haha

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this information!

I am currently suffering from a stomach ulcer and the concurrent horrible ammonia type stink that was coming from my sweat was very distressing on top of everything else.
Now I am being treated for the ulcer and no longer bleeding the stink is almost gone.
Now I just have to get it out of my duvet and mattress!

It would be good if this was better known as it is a useful diagnostic.

Unknown said...

One word of caution. Anyone experiencing unexplained body odor should go see a GI at the earliest opportunity and insist all tests be done. There are multiple GI related disorders including little known TMAU. Despite one possible cause listed here please know there are other causes for GI related body odor.