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What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a term used to describe the bumpy looking fat that can appear on some women's thighs and buttocks. Although cellulite does not appear in any medical dictionary, promoters claim that it is no 'ordinary' fat and thus requires extraordinary treatments. After investigating this topic, we have found that there are two main schools of thought on what cellulite is and how it is caused.

How is cellutite formed?

One thought is that cellulite is a combination of fat, water and toxic wastes. In cellulite, it is believed that the connective tissues holding fat cells, just beneath the skin's surface, accumulate water and waste products that aren't properly eliminated by the liver, kidneys or intestinal tract. These connective tissues supposedly harden and combine with fat and water to form pockets of a gel-like substance - cellulite - that bulges out to produce the characteristic 'orange peel' appearance on the skin.

Cellulite or "plain fat"?

The other thought is that this information is totally incorrect and that there is absolutely no medical evidence that the connective tissue of the fat cells is exposed to toxins as a result of the liver or other organs not functioning properly. Advocates of this idea also state "studies confirm that cellulite is not a special type of fat. There is no biochemical or structural difference between the fat from cellulite areas and common fat. Whether you call it cellulite or any other name, it is still plain old fat".

Cellulite is stored beneath the skin

About half the body's fat is deposited in the layers of cells immediately beneath the skin. Excess fat has to be stored somewhere and this depends mainly on heredity and whether you are male or female. Men tend to deposit fat around the abdomen while in women, the breasts, hips, thighs and buttocks are the main areas.

The "cellulite" effect

Strands between bulging fat clusters tug on skin and produce dimples.

The dimpled effect on women's skin - the so called 'cellulite' - is due to clusters of ordinary fat cells bulging into the skin layers.

What can you do to reduce cellulite?

Both of these theories give no firm explanation as to the role of cellulite or how it is manufactured, however we can conclude that cellulite is both fat and toxins that have been deposited under the skin's surface.

Natural health protocols in treating cellulite consider both these theories and treat this condition with herbs containing thermogenic and detoxifying properties.

Thermogenesis and Cellulite

Thermogenesis relates to the raising of the metabolic rate or fat burning in the body. To help produce this action, we have Oxytherm. This formula contains the herbs Green Tea Extract, Red Pepper Extract, Raspberry Ketone/Gallic Acid & their trademarked Lipo-Oxidisation Support. The essential mineral chromium, would be great to take alongside this. Chromium helps with sugar metabolism and to control the action of the fat storing hormone insulin.

Bitter Orange has been used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese medicines. Recently it was discovered that, in certain stages of maturity, Bitter Orange contains a rare composition of five adrenergic amines: synephrine, N-methyl tyramine, hordenine, octopamine and tyramine. All of these amines have demonstrated powerful thermogenic activity. We Activator FX, that contains bitter orange.

Guarana is a stimulant herb that helps increase energy and mental alertness. Taking it can help blunt the appetite and speed up metabolism. We stock Guarana Ginseng 4000.

Cellulite and Detoxification

We stock a number of detoxification formulas but a good all-rounder is Red Clover with Prickly Ash Bark.

This is a powerful blood cleanser and detoxifier which contains the following herbs: Red Clover blossoms, Prickly Ash bark, Buckthorn bark, Sarsaparilla root, Burdock root, Licorice root, Peach bark, Barberry Root bark, Echinacea purpurea herb, Cascara sagrada, Sheep Sorrel herb and Rosemary leaves.

Herbal Combinations and Cellulite

This herbal combination combines herbs that are specifically balanced to work on most of the body's eliminative channels. They cleanse the liver, circulatory, bowel and lymphatic system. The balance of these different cleansing actions makes this formula one of the most effective and popular available today.

Other detox packs include Natures Way Thisilyn Cleanse, Brett Elliot's Herbal Detox, and Nature's Sunshine Dieters Cleanse.


More options to treat cellulite

  • Dry skin brushing
  • A high water intake
  • A healthy balanced diet and
  • Regular low resistance exercise

Dry Skin Brushing to help with Cellulite

To also help with cellulite, we recommend dry skin brushing. It is said that dry skin brushing for 5 minutes each day is said to be the equivalent to 25 minutes of jogging to the body's lymphatic system. It helps to move lymphatic congestion, aid the circulation of the blood and remove dead skin cells to allow the skin to perform its functions effectively.

The movement of the brush strokes should be long and firm towards the heart. It is preferable for your health to dry skin brush before a bath or shower, rather than use the brush wet.

So before you have a shower or bath, get your dry skin brush or loofah and start brushing your skin, from the bottom of your feet and work your way up, giving your whole body, except for your face, a gentle brush.

When you first start dry skin brushing do this very gently. This may feel irritating at first, but very soon you will look forward to this. Concentrate on the areas where the cellulite is. This is something you will need to concentrate on, to make dry skin brushing a habit.

The importance of Water

It is important to ensure that you have a high water intake. Most people do not drink enough water and unknowingly they are chronically dehydrating their body. This causes all body tissues and fluids to become thicker and more viscous.

As well as this, it is known that water is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolise stored fat. Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits.

So how much water do you need to drink? On the average, a person should drink 8 glasses or 2 litres of water every day. However, anyone who is overweight needs one additional glass of water for every 15 kg of extra weight. The amount you drink should also be increased if you exercise briskly or if the weather is hot and dry.

As well as this, it is important to remember that if you eat a food toxic to the body, like junk food, you will place nutritional stress on the body. If you hurt yourself, you will have physical stress or if you get angry, you will have emotional stress. All of these things can create shock at a cellular level and you will need extra water to replace the water loss from the blood stream.

If you stop drinking enough water, your body fluids will be thrown out of balance and you may experience fluid retention, unexplained weight gain and a loss of thirst. Water is possibly one of the most important factors in loosing weight and keeping it off, so this is another thing you need to concentrate on to make it a habit.

The importance of a balanced diet

Nobody likes the thought of a diet or dieting and at the clinic, we do not recommend diets either. A diet is something you do temporarily, when you feel you need to loose weight. But many people complain that when they go off the diet, they put the weight back on. This is because they go back to eating the way they did before - eating the way that put the weight on in the first place.

Balance is the key. Our suggestions are to eat a good variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and include a good source of low fat protein with every meal or snack. Concentrate on reducing your intake of carbohydrates (mainly starches). Carbohydrates (sourced from starches and grains) are essentially glucose. This results in a wide fluctuation of blood sugar and therefore promotes a high insulin response. When this happens, insulin instructs the body to use only glucose as a fuel and not its fat reserves.

The importance of regular exercise

Regular exercise is ESSENTIAL. Low resistance aerobic exercise i.e. swimming, cycling, walking, jogging, rebounding, tennis etc at least 3 times a weeks is vital for fat mobilisation.

We have seen great results incorporating Tube training. These are readily available.  We can also access the Tube Train exercise system. This portable exercise system consists of the exercise tube, which comes in two easily assembled sections that twist and lock together, two handles and two 1.5 metre lengths of rubber tubing. It also has two instructional videos and a brochure. This system is suitable for all fitness levels and no prior experience is necessary.

Can Carnitine help combat cellulite?

Carnitine is considered a contingent nutrient that is highly beneficial, yet not essential. Body fat is stored in fat cells but is burned for energy in the mitochondria or furnaces of muscle cells. To get from these fat cells to the muscle cells, fat is carried by carnitine. The higher level of carnitine in the muscle, the more body fat is transported and burned.

Studies show that supplements of carnitine raise muscle carnitine levels. Therefore they also help you to loose body fat. Your body usually makes carnitine itself, but if you are overweight, your body is probably not making enough for optimum use of fat for fuel. To promote fat loss, it is recommended to use 1-2 grams of carnitine a day, in conjunction with exercise.

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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