Medically known as gynoid lipodystrophy. On the street, cellulite goes by the less scary (but no less flattering) description of ‘the mattress phenomenon’, ‘cottage cheese thighs’ or ‘peu d’orange’ translated as the ‘orange peel’ effect. It is merely a collection of fat deposits, lurking below the skin. Although found within fatty tissue, cellulite affects women who are slim as well as the more voluptuous. Unlike cellulitis, a bacterial infection of connective tissue, cellulite is not a health problem, just a cause for aesthetic angst.
- Cellulite generally strikes from the waist down, creating lumpy bits on thighs buttocks and hips.
- There are four distinct stages of cellulite. You can determine just how far down the path of orange peel you are by the good old pinch test. Between forefinger and thumb, gently grab a couple of centimetres of flesh, and assess.
- The flesh on your thighs and buttocks is smooth; when pinched it folds and furrows but does not pit or bulge. Good news.
- Your skin looks OK, except when pinched the first signs of dimpling appear.
- Your skin is smooth when you are lying down, but when you stand, it shows signs of pitting and bulging.
- The ‘there can be no denying it’ stage. Cellulite is apparent whether you stand up, lie down, and even wearing a caftan.
What causes it?
- You are a girl. Cellulite is almost always a female complaint. Oestrogen, the female hormone, is responsible for the way women’s skin differs from that of men.
- Age. As women age, their skin gets progressively looser and thinner, and connective tissue becomes weaker. Elastin and collagen, two substances responsible for the tight, sleek lines of youth, become lax and loose.
- Poor blood and lymphatic circulation. The lymphatic system is largely responsible for clearing tissues of cellular waste, another possible contributor to cellulite
What to do
As cellulite is predominantly an aesthetic rather than a health threatening complaint, it rather depends on how much effort you wish to expend to fix the problem.
- Drink 2 to 3 litres of fluid daily, including the herbal teas mentioned below.
- Eat fresh and predominantly raw food. Enjoy copious quantities of raw vegetables, salads and fruit.
- Reduce salt. Avoid processed and fast foods which tend to be high in salt.
- Increase foods that increase circulation. These include garlic, chillies and ginger.
- Avoid fried foods, white flour products, high fat dairy eg cream, sugar, alcohol, artificial colourings and preservatives.
- Traditional lymphatic herbs are called for here. Best taken in tea form. Choose from one or a combination of burdock, clivers, nettle, calendula and blue flag.
- The mineral, silica, strengthens skin, nails, hair and connective tissue. Slack collagen fibres allow tissue fluids to leak, and silicon helps to check this process. Available in liquid or tablet form.
- The herb gotu kola is excellent for improving connective tissue, just the thing for cellulite control.
- Fluid retention only makes cellulite worse, if you are bothered by fluid retention then take vitamin B6 250mg 2 times a day, and the diuretic herb dandelion leaf (not root) will help. Drink a cup or two daily, or add to the detoxifying herbs mentioned above. Also good for fluid retention are juniper and celery tablets.
- If hormonal imbalance is part of your health picture, take some balancing herbs such as vitex and Dong quai.
- Massage. Although you can’t break up cellulite, massage helps to boost general and lymphatic circulation. Enjoy a weekly or fortnightly massage if you can. Take along essential oil combination mentioned below and ask your masseuse to use this on your floppy bits.
- Juniper and cypress are the two essential oils most effective in cellulite treatment. Juniper is well known for its diuretic (water-removing) qualities; Cypress is also a diuretic and strengthens connective tissue. Mandarin and lavender complete the mixture, turning it into a delicious-scented and effective anti-cellulite treatment. Combine 5 drops of each into a base of 100 mls of almond or other base oil or body lotion. Apply after shower. Ingesting essential oils is toxic, so use this only externally on the body. Aromatherapy covered below
- Before showering, use a skin-brush to improve circulation and encourage lymphatic circulation and drainage. Dry skin brushing sloughs dead cells from the skin’s surface and encourages better elimination from the skin. Be a masochist, finish off your shower with a cold burst of water, to further boost circulation.
- Take up walking, swimming, dancing, rebounding or gym classes. Aerobic exercise helps you to decrease body fat, tone muscles, increase circulation, and improve the elimination of body wastes via sweat. Three to five 20-minute sessions is good, gradually building up to an optimum 45 minutes each exercise session to keep you cellulite-free.
- Smoking inhibits circulation. Stop it.
- Avoid tight fitting clothes that inhibit circulation
- Juniper and cypress are the two essential oils most effective in cellulite treatment. Juniper is well known for its diuretic (water-removing) qualities; Cypress is also a diuretic and strengthens connective tissue. Mandarin and lavender complete the mixture, turning it into a delicious-scented and effective anti-cellulite treatment. Combine 5 drops of each into a base of 100 mls of almond or other base oil or body lotion. Apply after shower. Ingesting essential oils is toxic, so use this only externally on the body.
At a glance
- Drink 2-3 litres of fluid.
- Eat predominantly raw food.
- Avoid salt and highly processed foods.
- Take silica in liquid or tablet form.
- Drink lymphatic cleansing teas including clivers, nettle, burdock.
- If fluid retention is also a problem, drink dandelion leaf tea and take B6 supplements.
- Before your shower, use a dry skin brush, in circular movements from toes to tummy, and fingers to chest.
- After your shower massage in some almond or other oil, with a combination of the following essential oils -juniper, cypress, mandarin and lavender essential oil