(NaturalNews) Sweating is just a nasty annoyance to many modern-day people. Sure, it keeps you from overheating during exercise or if you are exposed to extremely hot weather. But most often, perspiration is seen as a negative body secretion to be stopped whenever possible with chemical-laden antiperspirants. On the positive side, many traditional cultures have used induced sweating - such as sitting in sweat lodges - to benefit health. It's been mostly assumed that the physical benefits from sweating are the result of toxins released in sweat.
But now comes information on how the incredible human body uses the sweating process to help protect health in another way. Sweat contains amazing disease fighting chemicals. An international team of scientists has discovered how a natural antibiotic called dermcidin, produced by our skin during perspiration can destroy tuberculosis germs and other dangerous pathogens.
Although about 1,700 types of these natural antibiotics are known to exist, they are rarely discussed -- and this is the first time researchers have come up with a detailed understanding of how they work. The researchers from the University of Edinburgh and from Goettingen, Tuebingen and Strasbourg, uncovered the atomic structure of dermcidin, allowing them to pinpoint for the first time what makes this natural compound so efficient in destroying disease-causing germs.
Their new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that sweat spreads highly efficient antibiotics onto skin to protect our bodies from dangerous disease-causing "bugs." So if you scratch or cut yourself or get a mosquito bite, antibiotic agents secreted in sweat glands, including dermcidin, immediately and efficiently kill invading germs if perspiration reaches them.
What's more, the scientists say these natural substances, known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), are more effective in the long-term than traditional antibiotics. The reason? Germs are incapable of quickly developing resistance against them. Unfortunately, germs are capable of mounting resistance to many antibiotics created by Big Pharma and this has caused the development of so-called superbugs.
It turns out that natural antimicrobials found in sweat can attack bacteria through cell walls which bacteria can't modify quickly to resist attack. The scientists were able to determine dermcidin can adapt to extremely variable types of membranes, too. That's probably the reason why dermcidin is such an efficient broad-spectrum antibiotic. Research has shown the compound is active against many well-known, potentially dangerous pathogens including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Staphylococcus aureus.
"Antibiotics are not only available on prescription. Our own bodies produce efficient substances to fend off bacteria, fungi and viruses," Dr. Ulrich Zachariae of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics, who took part in the study, said in a press statement.
Finding a substance that is effective against superbug strains of Staphylococcus aureus, is especially important because these antibiotic-resistant staph infections are an increasing danger for hospital patients. Staphylococcus aureus infections can cause life-threatening diseases such as sepsis (blood infection) and pneumonia.
The international team of scientists suggests their work will help Big Pharma come up with a new class of antibiotics that can kill superbugs. However, for those interested in natural health, the take away message could well be to appreciate perspiration as a natural health-enhancing, disease fighting process that could actually help you avoid serious infections in the first place.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.