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What you can do at home to combat cellulite
Cellulite is a skin condition that gives the appearance of small bumps and ripples under the skin. The bumps are caused by the underlying fat cells growing too large and stretching the natural fiber compartments that hold the skin to the underlying layers of tissues.
Cellulite is ordinary fat, but ordinary fat that affects the appearance of the skin. Strands of fibrous collagen tissue connect the skin to the subcutaneous layers and also separate compartments that contain fat cells. When fat cells increase in size, these compartments bulge and produce a rippled appearance of the skin.
Women tend to have cellulite more often than men because they have a vertical pattern of collagen in the underlying layer that holds the fat cells, and when the fat cells become very large, they bulge out of the chambers and appear as cellulite.
In men, the pattern of collagen is tighter, in a diagonal pattern, and they have thicker skin, so there is less bulging of the individual fat cells. Another factor in cellulite is high levels of estrogen, since this hormone has a direct effect on the holding capacity of fat cells through the increase of alpha-adrenoreceptors, the chemical doorways that tell your fat cells to hold on to their contents. Poor diet, bad circulation, and poor lymphatic circulation can all contribute to the appearance of cellulite.
Treating Skin with Cellulite
There are several extra steps you can take for the treatment of cellulite. Consider your skin care regimen, and fine-tune it to meet the needs of skin that has a tendency to swell with fluids, store fat and have poor circulation.
Nutrition: Although cellulite is a skin condition, it’s closely tied to the storage of excess fat. If you are significantly overweight, you should certainly alter your diet. The dietary enzyme bromelain can improve overall circulation to your skin and adipose tissues by removing the buildup of fibrin on the walls of blood vessels. Treating cellulite requires a two-pronged approach – one being the shrinking of the fat cells themselves, the second being the regeneration of collagen and strengthening of the skin outside of the swollen fat cells.
Cleansing: When cleaning your skin, use your wash cloth or loufah to massage the area where cellulite occurs. At first, use a circular motion and then a brushing motion upwards towards the bowels. This will improve circulation and edema, and help remove toxins and metabolic wastes out of the tissues and interstitial spaces around the collagen and fat cells.
Dry Skin Brushing: Learn to dry brush your skin at least twice every day – upon rising and before going to bed. Skin brushing provides many benefits in the treatment of cellulite. First of all, it’s “exercise” for you skin, and strengthens the underlying dermis and pattern of collagen in the subcutaneous layer. It stimulates the growth and repair of the tissues by increasing blood flow to the area. It also helps remove toxins and metabolic wastes out of the interstitial fluids surrounding the tissues for disposal. Dry brushing is good for you skin all over, but if you are suffering from spider or varicose veins, brushing these areas vigorously several times every day, first in a circular motion and then upwards towards the colon, can improve the appearance of cellulite.
Hormones: Cellulite is often associated with the use of HRT and birth control pills. High levels of estrogen from these medications can cause an increase in the fatty tissues ability to store fats and cause them to bulge, pushing out the skin and causing cellulite. If you are using birth control pills for contraception, you may want to ask your doctor for a lower-estrogen dose formula or a non-hormonal form, such as an IUD. If you are on HRT, you may want to consider switching to a lower dose, adding progesterone cream, or using a weaker formula, such as an estrone cream. Habits: Get out of the habit of crossing your legs, knees and ankles. This reduces circulation and increases swelling. Try to keep moving regularly, neither sitting nor standing for long periods.
Exercise: Regular exercise is necessary for the improvement of cellulite. Not only does it help reduce the appearance of cellulite by burning the fatty acids that are causing the cellulite. It also improves circulation and helps to remove toxin-filled wastes away from the skin. Take up a walking program, or sneaking in a set of exercises in the restroom during breaks.
Body Wraps: Body wraps, both professional and homemade can improve the appearance of cellulite. Body wraps use a combination of minerals and herbs that stimulate the fat cells to release their contents, they absorb toxins from the skin and reduce swelling. Generally you will find stimulant herbs like kelp or algae that stimulate the fat burning process in the cells. You will find cosmetic clays that will remove toxins and wastes from the pores, and horsetail and horse chestnut that reduce edema (swelling) and provide minerals for strengthening the skin. These formulas are applied to the skin with the use of compression wraps. For recipes for doing home wraps, go to the Botanical Beauty Lab website.
Massage: Massage, particularly the kind that improves lymph flow, is very good for reducing the appearance of cellulite. It improves the removal of metabolic wastes and toxins from the interstitial tissues around the adipose tissues, and gives the skin a smoother appearance. There are many professionals offering massage for cellulite, including lymphatic massage and endermology, but if that is out of your budget, you may want to try a home massage device. Many are available, from a simple round-prong hand tool to a powered massager that provides heat, massage and suction similar to the professional endermology machines.
Supplements for Cellulite Reduction
Alfalfa: Alfalfa is a natural diuretic that helps balance the body’s interstitial fluids and reduces edema and swelling. It’s also a phytoprogesterone, which helps balance the excess estrogen that can exacerbate cellulite.
Borage Oil: Borage oil contains high amounts gamma linoleic acid, which is an important fatty acid to the strengthening of cell walls.
Bromelain: Bromelain is a naturally occurring enzyme in natural foods that aid in the digestion of proteins. The consumption of bromelain aids in the removal of fibrin buildup in fine blood vessels. This improves and increases circulation to the skin, and aids in repair and rejuvenation.
Horsetail: Horse Chestnut herb contains high levels of the mineral silica, which is used in the repair and maintenance of skin cells.
Cider Vinegar contains an array of important enzymes and aids in balancing body pH. It’s also a good source of potassium, which is necessary for fluid balance in the body.
Coconut Oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are easily absorbed and used by the body for fuel. It has the capability of stimulating the thyroid gland, which increases body temperature and metabolism and is known for improving the burning of excess fat.
Ginkgo Biloba is a natural blood thinner that increases the microcirculation to skin and fat cells. Gotu Kolu is a natural source of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the beta-adrenoreceptors on the surface of the fat cells to release their stores of fatty acids, aiding in the burning of excess fat.
Green Tea: Green tea is a mild stimulate that contains caffeine as well as powerful antioxidants that aid in the proper replication and repair of skin cells.
MSM: Is an important mineral that is necessary for skin cell repair.
External Treatments for Cellulite
Aloe Vera contains alatoin, which sooths and heals skin. It has been shown clinically to increase microcirculation of the skin and to speed healing of skin tissues.
Betonite Clay is a natural mineral clay that is known for its ability to absorb impurities and toxins from the skin through the pores.
Horsetail, ginkgo biloba, kelp and green tea also work externally and can be added to lotions or creams for massage into problem areas.
Many experts have recommended using coffee grounds as a scrub for cellulite prone areas. The grounds work as an exfoliant, as the caffeine absorbs into the skin and stimulate the beta adrenoreceptors in the fat cells to release their contents.
Dead Sea Salts and Kelp or bladderwrack contain powerful minerals that aid in the repair of skin cells as well as the mineral iodine which can aid in the metabolism of the underlying fat cells.
There are also many commercial formulas and methods for the reduction of cellulite. Most contain caffeine or a similar chemical called theophylline or aminophylline. Many also contain kelp, bladderwrack and other herbs mentioned herein.
Just remember that cellulite reduction is a two step process. The cause of cellulite is over-sized fat cells that have stretched out the collagen structure underlying the skin. The first step is to reduce bodyfat, and many herbs and nutrients both external and external can accelerate the process. The second step is to increase the strength of the skin and the collagen webs under the subcutaneous tissues. Skin and collagen require vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to rebuild themselves properly. Excess fluids can exacerbate the problem, so proper fluid intake and circulation is important. Drink plenty of fluids, and stay active to increase the circulation of the lymph system. With a little diligent effort the appearance of cellulite can be reduced.
About the Author
Fawn Bales has studied and practiced alternative and herbal medicine for over 20 years. She has also studied aesthetic technology and cosmetology. She is the co-author of two natural beauty books and is a managing editor of Botanical Beauty Lab, a women’s free resource for natural health and beauty information.