eighty to 90 per cent of women have it -- even very slim and young women. Cellulite, that is. The medical profession considers dimpled flesh a cosmetic issue, but holistic types say it signals metabolic problems. Women everywhere just want to get rid of it, and will pay big bucks for any treatment that promises to smooth thighs and buttocks -- thus all those trashy ads at the back of magazines.
Cellulite is a lay term used to describe skin that has puckered or dimpled. One theory holds that cellulite develops when small blood vessels in the fat layer beneath the skin become damaged, perhaps by inflammation.
As the circulation of blood and lymph slows, fluid accumulates, expanding the fat layer until it protrudes into the skin. The result is "orange peel" or "cottage cheese" skin.
Alternative practitioners believe the condition shows damage done by dietary and environmental toxins. These materials accumulate in fat cells. Getting poisons out of the fat and restoring normal blood and lymphatic circulation, according to this theory, are critical to successful treatment and will improve overall health.
You've heard the mantra: drink lots of pure water, eat your fruits and veggies and get the junk food out of your diet, especially anything that contains hydrogenated oils or trans fatty acids. Make sure you get enough of the essential fatty acids.
Herbs and nutrients might help, too. Preliminary evidence suggests the herb gotu kola is an anti-cellulite agent. Take 20 to 60 mg three times daily of an extract standardized to contain 40 per cent asiaticoside, 29 to 30 per cent asiatic acid, 29 to 30 per cent madecassic acid, and 1 to 2 per cent madecassoside. Don't expect results before four weeks of use.
Jamieson Laboratories claims its Celluplex has proven itself in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Celluplex's ingredients (including bilberry extract, citrus bioflavinoids and gingko) improve capillary circulation and aid in fat breakdown, or so says Jamieson. A month's supply costs $16.99. I've tried it, and noticed a slight shift for the better after about six weeks' use.
The most-hyped nutritional player is Cellasene, which contains, among others, extracts of grapeseed, gingko and sweet clover and essential fatty acids. Its manufacturer claims it improves circulation and speeds metabolism to fight cellulite. While anecdotal evidence supports Cellasene, a small double-blind study published in 2000 was unclear about whether it does actually promote cellulite loss. Also, it isn't suitable for women who are pregnant, have a thyroid condition or are on blood thinners. And it's pricey. A month's supply costs $54.99 to $82.50. Use for at least two months.
"To really see the results of Cellasene, you have to stick with it for six to eight weeks. I (also) work with a breakthrough product, Absolue Minceur, to treat loss of firmness. It helps to remove the water barrier around accumulated fat."
"No published studies show that Cellasene noticeably reduces the appearance of cellulite. No herbal remedy is going to get rid of fat all by itself. Diet and exercise can make it less obvious. Some may never get rid of it."
"I've talked to hundreds of people who've taken Cellasene. You find that about 70 per cent of the women who've taken it have had results."
"What you want to do is focus on cleansing the lymph, because the lymph cleanses the fatty tissue. I recommend homeopathic lymphatic drainage -- you can buy combination formulas. Drink cleavers tea and use liver cleansing herbs like dandelion, black radish, beet greens and a colon-cleansing herbal fibre combo."
TARI LEE CORNISH
"Exercise helps. Kneading the skin evens out fatty tissue -- use almond oil or vitamin E. Lifestyle and diet are important. I'm skeptical about Cellasene. We like to believe in miracle recipes, but they don't exist. Companies are quick to jump on the bandwagon."
ALAIN BOLDUC New Brunswick dermatologist