BEAUTY with nature & TECHNOLOGY
"Lipotherapeia specialise in offering you smoother, tighter, firmer skin on the face & body with an exclusive combination of technologies and actives not found anywhere else in the world: deep tissue radiofrequency, high intensity ultrasound, electro-mesotherapy, curcumin, hyaluronic acid, cocoa polyphenols, carnosine, gotu kola extract, hydroxyproline, green tea extract, resveratrol and 32(!) other natural, high-purity, high-concentration actives"
"I look at myself in the mirror: there appears to be hardly any cellulite at all, my skin is much firmer and the dimples are obviously reduced."
Science-based skin tightening & cellulite reduction
Welcome to LipoTherapeia, the only cosmetic practice in London dedicated exclusively to cellulite reduction, body skin tightening and face skin tightening / anti-ageing. LipoTherapeia is the only clinic in London where you can have treatment with Meso-CRF®. To offer you quality advice, effective treatment and advanced formulations we daily follow all the scientific research in our field and we assess all new equipment for our cellulite and skin tightening treatments and all new natural active ingredients for our intensive cellulite creams. And we share all this knowledge via our blog. Our before & after treatment pictures are 100% Photoshop-free and our cream testimonies are 100% genuine. Our treatments, creams and expert advice are regularly featured in most major national magazines, newspapers and TV, including the Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, OK, Grazia, the Times, Telegraph, Express, Daily Mirror, She, BBC etc (please note that, as with any treatment or body product, results vary from person to person).
Meso-CRF® technology combines Deep Tissue Radiofrequency™ + Real ElectroMesotherapy™ + Hi-Power Ultrasound Cavitation, all simultaneously applied at the same time, for maximum results. All our treatments are based on Physics, not beauty therapy myths, and are offered by an expert with 16-year experience, not a machine operator. Meso-CRF® treatments are pain-free, non-invasive, super-safe and require zero downtime (you can go straight to work after treatment on face or body). During the last 16 years we have treated more than 2,600 clients and have provided more than 16,000 cellulite and skin tightening procedures. Please note that at LipoTherapeia we will not sell you miracles or make exaggerated claims about instant cellulite / fat / skin looseness removal with just 1-3 sessions (as falsely advertised by some Harley Street clinics) because this is biologically impossible. Instead, we always offer honest, science-based advice (what to expect on your first session; you can also check our frequently asked questions).
We use different settings and actives for our Meso-CRF® treatment to treat the specific needs of different body areas: under-eye, face (anti-ageing & skin tightening), jawline (contouring & skin tightening), acne (face / body), décolletage, bra rolls, upper arms, hands (anti-ageing), tummy, love handles, butt lift, saddle bags, inner thighs, knee tops, calves (lower legs), whole thighs & butt (cellulite & skin tightening -- our most popular treatment). Dedicated treatments and protocols are also available for specific needs: office workers; post-lipo treatments (after liposuction / tummy tuck / vaser / laser-lipo); after pregnancy; slim women with cellulite / skin laxity; models and dancers; overweight women; while you lose weight; when you cannot exercise; Celluence® Dynamic Cellulite Massage, for those who prefer hands-only treatment for cellulite.
Prices are the same for ALL treatments:
£145 for your first session
£200 for single follow-up sessions
£145/session for courses of 6x (£870 in total)
£135/session for courses of 12x (£1620 in total)
£95 for Phase One / Phase Two cream, 250ml
£135 for Phase One + Two creams, 250+250ml
MESO-CRF® BODY TREATMENTS, PER BODY AREA
We recommend 6-12x treatments once a week on legs, arms, waste & stomach, depending on the severity of skin looseness / cellulite. For cellulite specifically, we recommend the application of the Celluence® creams twice a day maximum results, due to the intensive action of the creams. Please note that, as with any medical or aesthetic treatment / body product, results vary from person to person.
Meso-CRF® Thighs & Booty
(our most popular treatment)
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Choose between FRONT (includes: front of thighs, inner thighs, knees) or BACK (includes: back of thighs, outer thighs, bottom). Meso-CRF® Legs Double treatments are also available to cover both the front AND back of legs - prices are exactly double the normal prices.
Meso-CRF® BootyLift Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment specifically on the buttock area for maximum results
Meso-CRF® OuterThighs Intensive
SPOT FAT REDUCTION
Intensive treatment specifically on the outer thighs / saddlebags area for maximum results
Meso-CRF® ThighGap Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment specifically on the inner thighs for maximum results
Meso-CRF® LowerLegs Intensive
Intensive treatment specifically on the lower legs / calves area for maximum results
Meso-CRF® Tummy Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment on the stomach area
Meso-CRF® LuvHandles Intensive
Intensive treatment on the waist / upper hip area ("love handles" / "muffin tops") (and optionally also on the area below the armpit / around the bra strap)
Meso-CRF® ArmLift Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment on the upper arms / "bingo wings"
Meso-CRF® HandLift Intensive
Intensive treatment on the upper hands
Intensive anti-acne treatment for the face
MESO-CRF® FACE & DÉCOLLETAGE TREATMENTS, PER BODY AREA
We recommend treatment every week on face/décolletage (treatments every two weeks are fine). Impressive results from the very first session, long-term results in 6-12x sessions. Please note that, as with any medical or aesthetic treatment / body product, results vary from person to person.
(our most instantly impressive treatment)
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
UNDER-EYE PUFFINESS REDUCTION
Intensive treatment on the under-chin, jawline, cheeks, under-eye and forehead
Meso-CRF® Décolletage Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment on the décolletage area or whole breast.
Meso-CRF® FaceContour Intensive
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment on the under-chin, jawline and cheeks. Intensive skin tightening treatment specifically on the under-chin, jowl and cheeks.
Intensive anti-acne treatment for the face
DERMAPEN® FACE / BODY TREATMENTS, PER BODY AREA
We recommend treatment every 2-6 weeks, depending on the nature of the problem and the area treated. Impressive results from the very first session, long-term results in 3-6x sessions. Please note that, as with any medical or aesthetic treatment / body product, results vary from person to person.
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive yet gentle treatment on the under-chin, jawline, cheeks, under-eye and forehead
SCARS (ACNE / POST-COSMETIC SURGERY / OTHER)
For the treatment of post-acne and other scars, anywhere in the body
SKIN TIGHTENING + LIFTING
Intensive treatment on the décolletage area or whole breast
DermaPen® Stretch Marks
STRETCH MARK / SCAR FADING
For the treatment of stretch marks, anywhere in the body
The Peach Factor Blog
The Peach Factor offers the latest scientific information and expert advice on anti-ageing, skin firming, cellulite, slimming & overall health, based on our 16-year research and practical experience in those fields
What is cellulite / cellulite FAQs • Circulation, water retention, heavy legs, lymphedema • Fat cells • Cellulite, exercise & sports • Urban myths, gimmicks & hype • Thermogenesis and brown fat • Cellulite treatments* • Fat tissue inflammation • Anti-ageing* • Gotu kola* • Radiofrequency treatment* • Overall health • Cellulite creams • Butcher's broom extract* • Skin looseness / tightening* • Forskolin* • Caffeine* • Resveratrol* • High intensity interval training (HIIT) • Hesperidin* • Fish oil • Tips and lists • Antioxidants • EGCG / green tea extract* • Wound healing and connective tissue repair • cAMP • Retinol* • Polyphenols & carotenoids • Ascorbic acid* • Ultrasound cavitation • Raspberry ketone* • Vitamin C* • Pterostilbene* • Glycation • Insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome & diabetes • Overweight & weight loss • Sirtuins / SIRT1 • Escin (horse chestnut)* • Diet / dieting • Electro-mesotherapy • Spot fat reduction • Quercetin • Curcumin / turmeric* • Cellulite-specific massage / lymphatic stimulation massage • Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) • Inflammation • Skin looseness / skin tightening • Docosahexanoic acid (DHA)
- Comments: The citrus peel extract polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) already have limited use in cholesterol and triglyceride reduction. This new study is the second in three years that shows the potential of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones (HPMFs) from orange peel to inhibit adipogenesis, i.e. the growth of fat cells. Small quantities of citrus peel can be eaten (lime, lemon, orange, kumquat etc) and may potentially provide benefits against obesity. However, the consumption of larger quantities is not recommended as it can cause diarrhoea and other side effects. A safer and more standardised way to take polymethoxyflavones is "modified citrus pectin", rich in PMFs, which has been in circulation as a supplement for several years..
- Source: Suppression of Adipogenesis by 5-hydroxy-3,6,7,8,3',4'-Hexamethoxyflavone from Orange Peel in 3T3-L1 Cells.
- Abstract: We reported previously that hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones (HPMFs) effectively suppressed obesity in high-fat-induced mouse. In this study, we further investigated the molecular mechanism of action of 5-hydroxy-3,6,7,8,3',4'-hexamethoxyflavone (5-OH-HxMF), one of major HPMFs in orange peel. Treatment of 5-OH-HxMF effectively inhibited lipid accumulation by 55-60% in a dose-dependent manner. The 5-OH-HxMF attenuated adipogenesis through downregulating adipogenesis-related transcription factors such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) and CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBPs), as well as downstream target fatty acid synthase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). 5-OH-HxMF activated adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase signaling and silent mating type information regulation 1 (SIRTUIN 1 or SIRT1) in 3T3-L1 adipocytes to decrease lipid accumulation. In addition, the inhibition rate of lipid accumulation was compared between 5-OH-HxMF and 3,5,6,7,8,3',4'-heptamethoxyflavone (HpMF). 5-OH-HxMF inhibited lipid accumulation 15-20% more than HpMF did, indicating that hydroxyl group at position 5 can be a key factor in the suppression of adipogenesis.
- In a new study published yesterday it was found that the humble dandelion (taraxacum official) is very effective in causing apoptosis in human visceral pre-adipocytes (abdominal "baby" fat cells)
- On the other hand DHA, on the the two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, caffeine and the berry extract resveratrol, we more effective in reducing fat accumulation in fat cells
- Caffeine, DHA and the olive leaf extract oleuropein were more effective in boosting fat reduction (lipolysis) in pre-adipocytes ("baby" fat cells)
- On the other hand, oleuropein, bitter orange and dandelion were more effective lipolytic agents in mature fat cells
- Finally caffeine inhibited adipogenesis in pre-adipocytes, i.e. it inhibited the growth of baby fat cells
- In summary, the most effective overall natural slimming chemicals that were assessed in this study were dandelion, caffeine and DHA, with resveratrol, oleuropein and bitter orange, also contributing to fat reduction
- This limited study only assessed 8 natural chemicals, out of hundreds with proven activities in lipolysis, adipogenesis, apoptosis etc, so a much more broad comparative study of natural slimming agents is warranted
- Source: Different anti-adipogenic effects of bio-compounds on primary visceral pre-adipocytes and adipocytes.
- Abstract: Several natural compounds exhibit strong capacity for decreasing triglyceride accumulation, enhancing lipolysis and inducing apoptosis. The present study reports the anti-adipogenic effects of Silybum marianum (SL), Citrus aurantium (CA), Taraxacum officinale (TO), resveratrol (RE), Curcuma longa (CU), caffeine (CF), oleuropein (OL) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in reducing differentiation and increasing lipolysis and apoptosis. Analyses were performed on human primary visceral pre-adipocytes after 10 (P10) and 20 (P20) days of treatment during differentiation and on mature adipocytes after 7 days of treatment (A7). The percentage of apoptosis induced by TO extract in P10 and P20 cells was significantly higher than that induced by all other compounds and in CTRL cells. Triglyceride accumulation was significantly lower in cells treated with DHA, CF, RE in comparison to cells treated with OL and in CTRL cells. Treatments with CF, DHA and OL significantly incremented lipolysis in P20 cells in comparison to other compounds and in CTRL cells. On the contrary, the treatment of A7 cells with OL, CA and TO compounds significantly increased cell lipolysis. The addition of CF in differentiating P20 pre-adipocytes significantly increased the expression of genes involved in inhibition of adipogenesis, such as GATA2, GATA3, WNT1, WNT3A, SFRP5, and DLK1. Genes involved in promoting adipogenesis such as CCND1, CEBPB and SREBF1 were significantly down-regulated by the treatment. The screening of bioactive compounds for anti-adipogenic effects showed that in differentiating cells TO extract was the most effective in inducing apoptosis and CF and DHA extracts were more efficient in inhibition of differentiation and in induction of cell lipolysis.
- Comment: Centella asiatica / gotu kola extract is well-known for it's skin whitening properties and this study confirms that madecassoside, one of the 4 main triterpenes in centella "significantly reduces UV-induced melanin index at 8 weeks after topical application". Madecassoside achieves that, at least partially, by blocking multiple markers of inflammation on skin.
- Source: Madecassoside inhibits melanin synthesis by blocking ultraviolet-induced inflammation.
- Abstract: Madecassoside (MA), a pentacyclic triterpene isolated from Centella asitica (L.), is used as a therapeutic agent in wound healing and also as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent. However, the involvement of MA in skin-pigmentation has not been reported. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of MA on ultraviolet (UV)-induced melanogenesis and mechanisms in a co-culture system of keratinocytes and melanocytes. MA significantly inhibited UVR-induced melanin synthesis and melanosome transfer in the co-culture system. These effects were further demonstrated by the MA-induced inhibition of protease-activated receptor-2 expression and its signaling pathway, cyclooxygenase-2, prostaglandin E2 and prostaglandin F2 alpha in keratinocytes. The clinical efficacy of MA was confirmed on artificially tanned human skin. MA significantly reduced UV-induced melanin index at 8 weeks after topical application. Overall, the study demonstrated significant benefits of MA use in the inhibition of hyperpigmentation caused by UV irradiation.
Does power plate reduce or prevent cellulite?
Cellulite is a combination of superficial fat accumulation, loose skin, water retention, inflammation and subsequent scar tissue build up. Vibration plate training can help improve some of these aspects of cellulite, but does not really cure cellulite. In summary, it helps a bit but it is does not quite live up to the hype.
The science bit (i.e. the good news)
Strong mechanical stimulation such as vibration produced by a vibrating platform does encourage adipocyte apoptosis and fibroblast proliferation and upregulation. In plain English this means that fat cells are encouraged to die off early, whilst at the same time collagen cells are encouraged to replace the dead fat cells and also to increase their production of collagen and elastin (the two proteins that make your skin firm and elastic).
Those two things (fat cell apoptosis and fibroblast stimulation) can have a direct effect on three aspects of cellulite :
- fat (obviously)
- skin firmness (more collagen and elastin = more firmness and elasticity)
- water retention (fluid retention improves because blood vessel walls are made of collagen, elastin and similar proteins, so an improvement in collagen / elastin production would make them stronger and more resilient, thereby decreasing tissue water leakage and therefore water retention; furthermore, the vibration itself directly boosts circulation while you exercise on the powerplate, by stimulating the blood and lymph vessels to contract).
Of course all the above can only be considered as good news for cellulite sufferers: if we believe the hype, all one needs to do to get rid of her cellulite is spend hours on a vibrating platform, right? Well, as always in life, things are not that simple, as we explain in the following paragraph...
The reality bit (i.e. the bad news)
Unfortunately, things are never that simple. Vibration training and other mechanical stimulation does indeed cause the effects mentioned above. However, standing on a vibration platform for more than twenty minutes every other day is not the best thing for other tissues in your body, such as the cartilage found in your knee and hip joints or the retina in the back of your eyes and several other organs, which may be damaged by excessive vibration.
Some people are more sensitive, whilst some others are not - but in some cases you will never know before it's too late. This makes it pretty impossible to safely provide enough stimulation to your cellulite tissues to significantly affect cellulite. Therefore, with twenty minutes you may notice some results, but nothing sensational will ever happen.
In addition, power plate training by it's own is not enough. Vibration does not burn the fat (the most important component of cellulite), it merely disrupts the fat tissue. Any fatty acids released from the cellulite fat tissue will still have to be oxidised (i.e. burned) in your body, otherwise they will simply be re-deposited in fat tissue, including cellulite fat tissue.
So if you believe the countless hyped up articles on the web and expect to lose weight just by standing - or even by doing some light exercise - on a vibration platform, then no, power plate will NOT work. In fact, you are not going to lose any more weight than if you did the same exercises off the vibration plate. To lose actual weight, and to really reduce cellulite, you must do some cardiovascular or resistance exercise before or after your vibration plate training, in order to burn some fat.
The naivety bit (...)
"Well, if I can't stand all day on the vibration machine because it's bad for me, how about sitting or lying on it for less time, so that the machine affects more my cellulite and less my other organs and tissues?", I can hear you saying. Well, this sounds like a logical argument and in fact I have seen many women lying down or sitting down on the power plate in gyms, enjoying the good vibrations and smiling with pleasure...
However, what these women do not realise is that their ovaries, liver, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas and other internal organs don't particularly like vibration. Limited vibration training may be good for connective tissue (bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, skin, blood vessels, muscles) but it it detrimental to more fragile tissues, as the ones mentioned above. Quite simply, lying or sitting on the vibration platform will damage your internal organs long before it inflicts any significant damage your belly fat tissue.
Personally, I would prefer to keep my kidneys intact and lose my love handles with other methods, rather than cause damage to my body. This is not scaremongering, it is reality: kidneys for example suffer quite negatively from the effects of vibration, and this has been documented for decades, long before vibration plates became popular. In fact, I would never perform any other exercise on a power plate than squats and lunges. Yep, that's it! Ten minutes every other day and that's it.
Doing sit ups, crunches, push ups and other torso/upper body exercises on a vibration plate are simply:
- Either a waste of time, because not much vibration is transmitted to the right places, as in the case of performing arm curls whilst holding the belts connected to the machine. Or even as in the case of doing sit ups whilst your sitting bones are in contact with the vibration plate.
- Or dangerous, because too much vibration is transmitted to all the wrong places. For example your discs and cartilage found on your wrist joints do not particularly like being vibrated whilst you perform push ups. Neither your ovaries and lumbar discs are happy when you sit or perform ab crunches with you lumbar spine in contact with the vibration plate.
"If that is the case, why do personal trainers teach you such a large variety of exercises on vibration machines and why do gyms offer one-hour vibration plate classes?", I can hear you asking. The answer to those questions can be simply summarised in just a few words: fashion, ignorance, responding to demand, boosting sales, doing what everyone else is doing...
How about localised cellulite treatment based on vibration?
Well, this is the next logical step in our quest to apply the benefits of vibration in the pursuit of cellulite reduction. Several years ago I went down that route, in my quest to offer my clients the best cellulite treatment possible. I used the strongest therapeutic vibration machine available today, a machine popular in the 70s, 80s an d90s, called G5.
I actually went even further and asked the manufacturer to produce an even stronger machine than those available commercially. Predictably, cellulite did decrease and skin firmness did improve, but only at the expense of spider veins (also known as thread veins) appearing on the treated areas...
Since replacing one evil with another is not a good idea, I gave up on localised vibration-based treatments for cellulite. Incidentally, for the exact same reason (plus it's negative effect on skin firmness), I also abandoned roller-suction treatments (treatments that utilise vacuum suction with rolling, also known as palper-rouler treatments) and switched to a manual method for a few years, before finally offering the radiofrequency, ultrasound cavitation and electro-mesotherapy I currently use at my practice.
Bones, tendons and ligaments...
Where vibration platform training really shines, is at boosting bone density and thereby fighting osteoporosis (the reason it was originally developed for) and also at strengthening ligaments, tendons, cartilage and hard connective tissue in general.
This is due to the strong, intermittent gravity effect it provides to those tissues. Skin (including cellulite, which is an actual part of the skin), blood vessels, muscles and fat tissue, being softer connective tissues, still benefit, as we explained above, but not as much as hard tissues benefit.
The effect of vibration plate training is similar to that of acoustic wave therapy (shockwave therapy). Acoustic wave therapy (AWT) latter works well on hard tissues (ideal to help set bones and heal tendons and ligaments) but it is pretty useless for fat / cellulite reduction, despite all the hype created by clever - and misleading - PR.
To maximise the results of your power plate training on ALL your connective tissues, you should consider taking the following collagen-boosting, connective tissue protecting and blood vessel strengthening nutrients orally, in the form of a supplement. Furthermore, local skin application of the same nutrients, in the form of a good anti-cellulite cream that contains those nutrients, will provide a more focused effect on skin, fat and cellulite.
Both local application and oral intake should be done just before, or immediately after, exercise on the vibration plate:
- Centella asiatica
- Vitamin C
- Pine bark extract
- Esculoside / Esculin (horse chestnut extract)
- Proanthocyanidin (horse chestnut extract / cranberry extract)
The moral of the story is...
First of all, stop chasing miracle treatments - they do not exist. Just don't believe the hype.
- Do train up to three times a week on a vibration plate, performing squats and lunges for up to ten minutes. Stick to ten minutes - more is not always better!
- Combine this training with serious diet and cardiovascular exercise for maximum results
- Combine with a good cellulite treatment, ideally just before or immediately after your power plate training.
- Use a quality cellulite cream, ideally one with high concentrations of multiple active ingredients and applying it immediately before or after the training for maximum results
- Do not even think of lying on the machine to lose your love handles, or sit on it to have a firmer bum...
- Comment: In a paper about how obesity affects tendons published today, a group of Italian and Spanish scientists state that advanced glycation end products (AGEs), caused by the consumption of sugar-laden foods, can potentially affect tendons
- This is because AGEs are known to damage the structure and functionality of collagen fibres in tendons, ligaments and skin, along with chronic, sub-clinical low grade inflammation, which also typically accompanies chronic sugar consumption, overweight/obesity and pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome states.
- In these cases, the scientists advise low impact exercise, but we would also add sugar avoidance (most important) and also supplementation with carnosine, which is known to prevent the formation of AGEs in the body.
- Source: How Obesity Affects Tendons?
- Abstract: Several epidemiological and clinical observations have definitely demonstrated that obesity has harmful effects on tendons. The pathogenesis of tendon damage is multi-factorial. In addition to overload, attributable to the increased body weight, which significantly affects load-bearing tendons, systemic factors play a relevant role. Several bioactive peptides (chemerin, leptin, adiponectin and others) are released by adipocytes, and influence tendon structure by means of negative activities on mesenchymal cells. The ensuing systemic state of chronic, sub-clinic, low-grade inflammation can damage tendon structure. Metabolic disorders (diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and dislipidemia), frequently associated with visceral adiposity, are concurrent pathogenetic factors. Indeed, high glucose levels increase the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products, which in turn form stable covalent cross-links within collagen fibers, modifying their structure and functionality. Sport activities, so useful for preventing important cardiovascular complications, may be detrimental for tendons if they are submitted to intense acute or chronic overload. Therefore, two caution rules are mandatory: first, to engage in personalized soft training program, and secondly to follow regular check-up for tendon pathology.
- Comment: A new meta-analysis study has found that turmeric is as effective as medication in reduction of pain score in arthritis
- The meta analysis authors stated that the quality of the studies was generally good but more studies of larger sample sizes needs to be conducted for clearer evidence
- In the meantime, sufferers can take 1000mg/day of curcumin, a safe, and economical anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant supplement, while waiting for a few of decades for new studies too emerge...
- (Here it is important to note that turmeric has been used for millennia as a relief for inflammation and curcumin has been investigated for it's anti-inflammatory role in almost all human organs and tissues, from skin to bowel to brain)
- Source: Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.
- Abstract: Although turmeric and its curcumin-enriched extracts have been used for treating arthritis, no systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have been conducted to evaluate the strength of the research. We systemically evaluated all RCTs of turmeric extracts and curcumin for treating arthritis symptoms to elucidate the efficacy of curcuma for alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. Literature searches were conducted using 12 electronic databases, including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Korean databases, Chinese medical databases, and Indian scientific database. Search terms used were "turmeric," "curcuma," "curcumin," "arthritis," and "osteoarthritis." A pain visual analogue score (PVAS) and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) were used for the major outcomes of arthritis. Initial searches yielded 29 articles, of which 8 met specific selection criteria. Three among the included RCTs reported reduction of PVAS (mean difference: -2.04 [-2.85, -1.24]) with turmeric/curcumin in comparison with placebo (P < .00001), whereas meta-analysis of four studies showed a decrease of WOMAC with turmeric/curcumin treatment (mean difference: -15.36 [-26.9, -3.77]; P = .009). Furthermore, there was no significant mean difference in PVAS between turmeric/curcumin and pain medicine in meta-analysis of five studies. Eight RCTs included in the review exhibited low to moderate risk of bias. There was no publication bias in the meta-analysis. In conclusion, these RCTs provide scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1000 mg/day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis. However, the total number of RCTs included in the analysis, the total sample size, and the methodological quality of the primary studies were not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions. Thus, more rigorous and larger studies are needed to confirm the therapeutic efficacy of turmeric for arthritis.
- Comment: Forskolin is very well know for it's cAMP production, which normally leads to lipolysis, and also lipolysis itself. This study has found that the lipolytic effect of forskolin is not necessarily based on cAMP production. In fact forskolin stimulates a disproportionate amount of cAMP in relation to lipolysis. However, both cAMP itself as well as lipolysis have applications in the fight against cellulite, so forskolin remains one of the top 5 anti-cellulite actives.
- Source: Relationship between cyclic AMP production and lipolysis induced by forskolin in rat fat cells
- Abstract: Forskolin (7 beta-acetoxy-8, 13-epoxy-1 alpha,6 beta,9 alpha-trihydroxy-labd-14-ene-11-one) induced both cyclic AMP production and lipolysis in intact fat cells, but stimulated lipolysis without increasing cyclic AMP at a concentration of 10(-5) M. Homogenization of fat cells elicited lipolysis without elevation of cyclic AMP. Forskolin did not stimulate lipolysis in the homogenate. Forskolin stimulated both cyclic AMP production and lipolysis in a cell-free system consisting of endogenous lipid droplets and a lipoprotein lipase-free lipase fraction prepared from fat cells. However, at a concentration of 10(-6) M, it induced lipolysis without increase in the cyclic AMP content in this cell-free system. In the cell-free system, homogenization of the lipid droplets resulted in marked increase in lipolysis to almost the same level as that with 10(-4) M forskolin without concomitant increase in cyclic AMP. Addition of forskolin to a cell-free system consisting of homogenized lipid droplets and lipase did not stimulate lipolysis further. Phosphodiesterase activities were found to be almost the same both in the presence and absence of forskolin in these reaction mixtures. Although 10(-3) M forskolin produced maximal concentrations of cyclic AMP: 6.7 x 10(-7) M in fat cells and 2.7 x 10(-7) M in the cell-free system, 10(-4) M cyclic AMP did not stimulate lipolysis in the cell-free system. In a cell-free system consisting of lipid droplets and the lipase, pyrophosphate inhibited forskolin-induced cyclic AMP production, but decreased forskolin-mediated lipolysis only slightly. Based on these results, mechanism of lipolytic action of forskolin was discussed.
- Comment: The venotonic and circulation-enhancing medication Daflon (450m Diosmin + 50g hesperidin) has been effectively used for decades for the relief of poor circulation and vein disease in general. This new paper shows that just 50mg of Pycnogenol, a branded red pine bark extract, has the same effect of vein ulcer healing and circulation improvement / oedema reduction.
- Source: Effect of Pycnogenol on the Healing of Venous Ulcers.
- Abstract: BACKGROUND: Venous ulcers are common complications of chronic venous insufficiency that result in severe physical and mental suffering to patients. The oral administration of diosmin/hesperidin has been used as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare the effect of pycnogenol and diosmin/hesperidin on the healing of venous ulcers. METHODS: This longitudinal, prospective, randomized clinical trial was conducted with 30 adult patients with venous ulcers from a vascular surgery outpatient clinic of a university hospital. The patients were randomly allocated to two groups: group 1 (n=15) was treated with pycnogenol (50 mg orally, three-times daily), and group 2 (n=15) was treated with diosmin/hesperidin (450/50 mg orally, twice daily). They were assessed every 15 days for 90 days. During follow-up visits, photo-documentation was obtained and the ulcer area and circumference of the affected limb were measured. Friedman's test and the Mann-Whitney test were used to compare ulcer areas and circumference of affected limbs between and within groups at the different time points. The level of significance was set at 5% (P<0.05) for all tests. RESULTS: Both the pycnogenol and diosmin/hesperidin treatments had a similar effect on the healing of venous ulcers and led to a significant decrease in the circumference of affected limbs (P<0.0001). CONCLUSION: The results suggest that pycnogenol has an adjuvant effect on the healing of venous ulcers, similar to diosmin/hesperidin.
- Comment: Most people think that resveratrol, the active ingredient in blueberries and red wine, is an antioxidant itself. This paper suggests that resveratrol is a mild pro-oxidant instead, which stimulates the cell's Nrf-2 antioxidant capacity. This triggers cells to produce glutathione, the body's most potent detoxification and antioxidant chemical, which in turns fights oxidation and DNA damage.
- However, all the latest research agrees with this finding: polyphenols and carotenoids do not act as antioxidant themselves inside the body, they instead act either as anti-inflammtory or they trigger the Nrf-2 system which then boosts detoxification and antioxidant capacity.
- Source: Hormetic Shifting of Redox Environment by Pro-Oxidative Resveratrol Protects Cells Against Stress
- Abstract: Resveratrol has gained tremendous interest owing to multiple reported health-beneficial effects. However, the underlying key mechanism of action of resveratrol remained largely controversial. Here, we demonstrate that under physiologically relevant conditions major biological effects of resveratrol can be attributed to the generation of oxidation products such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). At low hormetic concentrations (< 50 µM), treatment with resveratrol increased cell viability in a set of representative cell models, whereas application of quenchers of ROS completely truncated these beneficial effects. Notably, application of resveratrol led to mild, Nrf2-specific cellular gene expression reprogramming. For example, in primary human epidermal keratinocytes this resulted in a 1.3-fold increase of endogenous metabolites such as glutathione (GSH) and subsequently in a quantitative reduction of the cellular redox environment by 2.61 mV mmol GSH per g protein. After external application of oxidative stress by using 0.8% (v/v) ethanol, endogenous generation of ROS was consequently reduced by 24% in resveratrol pre-treated cells. In contrast to the common perception that resveratrol acts mainly as a chemical antioxidant or as a target protein-specific ligand, we propose that effects from resveratrol treatment are essentially based on oxidative triggering of cells. In relevant physiological microenvironments this effect can lead to hormetic shifting of cellular defence towards a more reductive state to improve resilience to oxidative stress in a manner that can be exactly defined by the redox-environment of the cell.
- Comment: The turmeric active curcumin stimulates skin cells' antioxidant, detoxification and DNA repair systems to protect against UV-B skin damage
- Source: Protective Effect of Curcumin Against Acute Ultraviolet B Irradiation Induced Photo-damage.
- Abstract: Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation is one of the most dangerous insults for skin, and causes sunburn, erythema, photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a yellow spice derived from dried rhizomes of Curcuma longa, has been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant and anti-infective effects. However, the protective effects of curcumin against acute photo-damage are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the photo-protective effects of curcumin against UVB induced acute photo-damage in hairless mice and immortalized human keratinocytes (HaCaT). Topical application of curcumin significantly inhibited acute UVB (540 mJ/cm(2) , for 3 successive days)-induced inflammatory cells, collagen accrementition derangement and lipid peroxidation, and effectively induced NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) nuclear accumulation in Uncovered (Uncv) hairless mice skin. Treatment of HaCaT cells with curcumin significantly attenuated acute UVB (300 mJ/cm(2) )-induced lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and DNA damage, activated the expression of the phase II detoxifying enzymes and promoted DNA repair activity. The photoprotective effect provided by curcumin was potential associated with modulation of Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response. Our study suggested that curcumin is a potential agent for preventing and/or treating UV radiation induced acute inflammation and photoaging.
- Comment: Curcumin prevents - and to a lesser extent repairs - damage and toxicity caused by amyloid-beta on nerve cell mitochondria and synapses, thereby helping prevent and improve Alzheimer's disease
- Source: Protective effects of a natural product, curcumin, against amyloid β induced mitochondrial and synaptic toxicities in Alzheimer's disease.
- Abstract: The purpose of our study was to investigate the protective effects of a natural product-'curcumin'- in Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neurons. Although much research has been done in AD, very little has been reported on the effects of curcumin on mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics, function and synaptic activities. Therefore, the present study investigated the protective effects against amyloid β (Aβ) induced mitochondrial and synaptic toxicities. Using human neuroblastoma (SHSY5Y) cells, curcumin and Aβ, we studied the protective effects of curcumin against Aβ. Further, we also studied preventive (curcumin+Aβ) and intervention (Aβ+curcumin) effects of curcumin against Aβ in SHSY5Y cells. Using real time RT-PCR, immunoblotting and immunofluorescence analysis, we measured mRNA and protein levels, mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial biogenesis and synaptic genes. We also assessed mitochondrial function by measuring hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxidation, cytochrome oxidase activity and mitochondrial ATP. Cell viability was studied using the MTT assay. Aβ was found to impair mitochondrial dynamics, reduce mitochondrial biogenesis and decrease synaptic activity and mitochondrial function. In contrast, curcumin enhanced mitochondrial fusion activity and reduced fission machinery, and increased biogenesis and synaptic proteins. Mitochondrial function and cell viability were elevated in curcumin treated cells. Interestingly, curcumin pre- and post-treated cells incubated with Aβ showed reduced mitochondrial dysfunction, and maintained cell viability and mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial biogenesis and synaptic activity. Further, the protective effects of curcumin were stronger in pretreated SHSY5Y cells than in post-treated cells, indicating that curcumin works better in prevention than treatment in AD-like neurons. Our findings suggest that curcumin is a promising drug molecule to treat AD patients.
- Comment: The fact that MCTs reduce fat by inducing adipocyte apoptosis makes them ideal as - ideal as topical anti-cellulite cream actives
- Source: Octanoate and decanoate induce apoptosis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
- Abstract: The effect of octanoate and decanoate, respectively, eight- and 10-carbon medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), on apoptotic signaling in 3T3-L1 adipocytes was investigated. 3T3-L1 adipocytes were treated with various concentrations of octanoate or decanoate. Cell viability, apoptosis, and expression of apoptosis-related proteins were investigated. Results indicated that both octanoate and decanoate decreased viability, increased apoptosis, and increased reactive oxygen species production. Immunoblotting analysis showed an increase in the levels of cytoplasmic cytochrome c and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase by octanoate and decanoate. Concomitantly, we observed that pro-caspase-3 was decreased, resulting in the induced accumulation of the cleaved form of caspase-3 by both octanoate and decanoate. In addition, both octanoate and decanoate increased the expression of pro-apoptotic Bax with an accompanied decrease of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2. These results show that octanoate and decanoate mediate adipocyte apoptosis via a caspase-dependent mitochondrial pathway in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. MCFAs thus decrease adipocyte number by initiating the apoptotic process in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
Cellulite does not appear overnight
During the initial assessment and consultation at my practice, quite a few of my new clients tell me that their cellulite has only appeared the last 2-3 months, when it is clearly evident from the assessment that their cellulite has been there for some years, rather than for a few months.
The truth is that, as with anything else in life, if we do not pay attention to something, it just doesn't exist for us. Cellulite is one of those things that does not develop overnight - it usually takes from several months to a few years to develop under the surface, initially as pre-cellulite and later as cellulite-proper.
During that time most women do not normally pay attention to the tissue changes and the tell-tale signs of cellulite-to-be: increased softness, mild puffiness, orange peel skin when pressing the skin or when contracting the buttock muscles (gluteus maximus). And then, when cellulite starts becoming evident, most women still don't pay much attention until it becomes too advanced to be eliminated completely.
The fact is that when cellulite is new and limited, i.e. when it has been evident for less than six months, it can usually be removed completely. However, due to permanent connective tissue distortion inside the skin, cellulite cannot totally be eliminated if it is too severe or if it has been visible for more than six months.
At what time does cellulite start forming?
Cellulite creation is a slow, incipient process that happens little by little without much fanfare, starting in the teenage years. For several years, during your teens and your twenties, cellulite slowly accumulates as you enjoy the artificial, unhealthy Western lifestyle and live the so-called "good life", based on smoking, drinking, eating processed foods, using "the pill" and, for some, abusing illegal or even legal drugs, including diuretics, diet pills and stimulants.
Then suddenly, in your late twenties you realise that you do have some cellulite on your legs after all, but believe that it has "only appeared six months ago". The truth is that cellulite was slowly accumulating for years - sometimes increasing fast and sometimes receding somewhat, according to your lifestyle.
By the time cellulite is firmly established, and therefore visible, it is not just difficult to eliminate but even to reduce, and takes more than reverting to a healthy lifestyle. In that case you most probably need some external help in the form of cellulite treatments, cellulite creams and some proper, cellulite-specific advice on diet and exercise (I am actually amazed of how many of my clients think they eat healthily and exercise a lot, only for me to discover after talking to them for a few minutes that sometimes healthy eating means having bread, butter and jam for breakfast or that exercising a lot means doing pilates a couple of times a week)...
But the most important thing to remember is that prevention is better than cure for cellulite, as it is for any other aesthetic or health condition, and it is never too early (or indeed too late) to start talking care of your body. So start today - do not postpone it for tomorrow!
- Source: Inhibitory effects of coumarins from the stem barks of Fraxinus rhynchophylla on adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells.
- Abstract: In the course of screening anti-adipogenic activity of natural products employing the preadipocyte cell line, 3T3-L1 as an in vitro assay system, the EtOAc fraction of the stem barks of Fraxinus rhynchophylla DENCE (Oleaceae) showed significant inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation as assessed by measuring fat accumulation using Oil Red O staining. Activity-guided fractionation led to the isolation of six coumarins such as esculetin (1), scopoletin (2), fraxetin (3), fraxidin (4) esculin (5) and fraxin (6). Among the six coumarins isolated, esculetin (1) showed the most potent inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation, followed by fraxetin (3). Further studies with interval treatment demonstrated that esculetin (1) exerted inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation when treated within 2 d (days 0-2) after differentiation induction. We further investigated the effect of esculetin (1) on peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), one of the early adipogenic transcription factors. Esculetin (1) significantly blocked the induction of PPARgamma protein expression and inhibited adipocyte differentiation induced by troglitazone, a PPARgamma agonist. Taken together, these results suggest that esculetin (1), an active compound from F. rhynchophylla, inhibited early stage of adipogenic differentiation, in part, via inhibition of PPARgamma-dependent pathway.
Heredity and cellulite
Like any other health and aesthetic condition, cellulite has both genetic and lifestyle components. With the exception of a few severe diseases, genes do not absolutely determine your health and appearance. They act as a guides that merely influence your health and appearance towards one way or another.
In fact, lifestyle factors switch certain genes on and off throughout our life. Typically a healthy lifestyle will switch "good genes" on and leave "bad genes" dormant, and vice versa an unhealthy lifestyle will switch "bad genes" on and may turn "good genes" off.
Furthermore, if a condition depends on more than one gene, then lifestyle becomes even more important, because small lifestyle changes will turn certain good genes on/off, whilst other lifestyle changes will switch bad genes on or off too, thereby creating thousands of possible outcome combinations.
Most conditions belong to that category, i.e. they depend on multiple genes, sometimes hundreds of them. Weight maintenance is said to be controlled by as many as 300 genes, probably more, and this is why it is so difficult to find one pharmaceutical answer to the problem of overweight and obesity.
Cellulite (being a combination of not just fat accumulation, but also water retention, skin looseness, connective tissue deformity, inflammation and toxin infiltration) is controlled by a vast number of genes which are switched on or off in myriad ways, according to small variations in your lifestyle. This is why there are so many different types of cellulite and this is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to treat cellulite with non-personalised approaches.
Don't blame mum!
So next time you see your mum and dad, don't blame them for your cellulite. She only gave you her genes, but you are the one who switches these genes on or off. Every day you stay inactive, every time you consume excessive or unhealthy food, alcohol or stimulants, every time you smoke, even when you use hormonal contraception, you switch on the expression of "bad", cellulite and disease-producing genes and you switch off the expression of your good, health and appearance-enhancing genes.
Vice versa, every time you exercise, eat healthy food and generally respect your body, you switch on the good genes, that protect you from disease, ageing and cellulite. The same applies each time you receive an intensive cellulite treatment or you apply a concentrated cellulite cream - these interventions switch certain genes on/off at a local level, in the same way that foods end exercise switch genes on/off at the whole body level.
Cellulite is not what nature originally intended for human beings and it has no evolutionary meaning. The only reason women have cellulite today more than ever before, is because their lifestyle today is more sedentary, artificial and "calorific" than ever before in history. Cave women certainly did not have cellulite and if you lived all your life as naturally and actively, you would not have any cellulite either - no matter what kind of genes mum gave you.
If lifestyle is so important then why is it that models have no cellulite?
Who said that models have no cellulite? I have treated dozens of glamour and fashion models and most of them do have some degree of cellulite or pre-cellulite. Quite often the cellulite is pretty pronounced but fortunately for them (and unfortunately for the self-esteem of the readers) it is airbrushed in the published photos in magazines.
The only difference between models and "mere mortals" is that models develop cellulite a little bit later in life, due indeed to their good genes. But these good genes can only protect you for so long. After several years of unhealthy lifestyle cellulite eventually catches up with everyone, whether they are "gifted" or not. It is just that the gifted ones escape for a little bit longer, but they definitely do not escape for ever. And we have seen that hundreds of times at the clinic...
What is a contrast shower and how it works
Contrast showers (also known as alternate showers) are showers that use hot and cold water in alternation. Contrast showers are used as mental and physical alertness tonics and as methods of detoxification. With contrast showering the blood and lymph vessels contract when cold water is used and dilate when hot water is used. This creates a pump effect that enhances arterial flow into the tissues, venous return (blood flow from the tissues towards the heart via the veins) and lymphatic drainage (drainage of excess water and waste products from the tissues towards the heart).
As arterial flow is boosted, tissues get nourished and oxygenated. As venous return and lymph drainage are enhanced, more toxins and waste products can find their way out of the tissues and towards the heart, from where they are ultimately directed into the liver and kidneys for detoxification and expulsion from the body.
Do contrast showers affect cellulite?
Contrast showers are a good home remedy for cellulite prevention and, to a lesser extent, celulite reduction. As we explained in another article of this website, cellulite comprises seven components (poor circulation/lymphatic drainage, inflammation, toxin accumulation, skin looseness, fat accumulation, glycation and scar tissue formation). The first 3 of those components are directly or indirectly affected by contrast showers in a favorable way.
As we explained above, contrast showers encourage the blood and lymph vessels to pump more vigorously and thereby increase the diffusion of nutrients and oxygen into the tissues and at the same time also boost the removal of toxins and waste products from the tissues towards the detoxification organs of the body. In addition, metabolic rate of the affected tissues increases and inflammation tends to heal faster. Since toxin and waste product accumulation, inflammation and water retention are important parts of what we call cellulite, it is apparent that contrast showers would help reduce or at least prevent cellulite.
Contrast showers, cold showers and cellulite fat reduction
In addition, since contrast showers boost sympathetic nervous system activity and thereby metabolic rate, they should - to some extent at least - help reduce the most important component of cellulite: fat. We now know that cold stimulates the release of noradrenaline (norepinephrine), the most important fat-releasing hormone of the body. In this case one would be tempted to think that cold showers are better than contrast showers in boosting topical fat loss, but the opposite is true. Continuous norepinephrine release eventually leads to a tolerance effect on the adipocytes, which simply stop responding to it. However, intermittent release, stimulated by a contrast shower, should not cause the same tolerance effect and thereby may be more effective than continuous release stimulated by a cold shower.
How hot showers and contrast showers differ in their effect on the body and cellulite in particular?
The difference between a contrast shower and a hot shower is that with the hot shower arteries and veins dilate leading to more nutrients entering the tissues (which is great), more water entering the tissues (which is not that great...) but less waste products and water leaving the tissues (which is really unwelcome), thereby potentially increasing water retention and inflammation. In addition, hot showers relax the central nervous system and decrease metabolic rate.
Cold showers in contrast, can have an immediate vasoconstricting effect (blood and lymph vessels contract) which boosts drainage and venous return, and therefore can be very effective in removing waste products from the peripheral tissues, but do not create the vigorous pumping effect that contrast showers create, and are therefore less efficient than the latter.
In addition, contrast showers are better tolerated by most people than cold showers, which especially in the winter can be very unpleasant.
Finally, cold showers stimulate the central nervous system and increase metabolic rate but the same effect is produced by contrast showers, as is evidenced by the increased mental alertness and vitality people feel after taking a contrast shower. And as we mentioned a few paragraphs above, the local metabolic rate increase from a contrast shower might be higher than that achieved by a cold shower.
How to have a contrast shower for the whole body
I love contrast showers as they increase my alertness and make me feel vigorous and alive. The way I take them is as follows. If I feel tired and hot, I start with cold water (as cold as I can tolerate) and thoroughly cool down all parts of my body. This usually takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Then I switch to hot water (as hot as I can tolerate) and again warm up the whole body, again for anything between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
In the winter I tend to use hot water for more time and in the summer I tend to use cold water more. I repeat this procedure 2 to 5 times, always listening to signals from my body. I do not force myself to do something that my body doesn’t want and if one day I don’t feel like it I just don’t contrast shower.
At the end of this cycle of intense temperature variations, I calm down my system by using cool water (not cold) followed by luke-warm water (not hot). Finally, I finish with water at exactly the same temperature as my body. So the full routine could be summarized as follows:
- Cold/Hot: x2~5 cycles, ½-3 minutes each
- Cool/Luke warm: x1~2 cycles, ½-3 minutes each
- Neutral: x1~2 minutes
How to apply a contrast shower only on the areas affected by cellulite
If you are only going to “work” only on your thighs and hips then you may skip the cool/luke warm cycle, as well as the neutral part of the routine, so that you achieve maximum effect. For full body contrast showering it is important to somewhat calm down the system, otherwise you may feel cold later, especially in the winter. You may also get over-stimulated. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with really stimulating your thighs only, in fact this is exactly what we want to achieve. And as the stimulation is only localized, you will not feel too cold or too “hyper” with a thigh-and-bottom-only contrast shower.
But be careful, applying a contrast shower to affect the cellulite on the stomach, waist, chest or upper arms, may give you a cold or diarrhea, as these areas are too close your internal organs, which don’t normally like cold. Also, be careful when you work on your inner thighs or the buttocks not to irritate the intimate areas with the cold/hot water sequence.
How to maximize the effects of contrast showers
The best time to apply a good anti-cellulite cream is immediately after a contrast shower, as the hot/cold shower will increase the effectiveness and absorption of the cream. In turn, the best time to have a contrast shower is immediately after exercise, which will produce a synergistic effect and will help remove lactic acid and waste products from the muscles. The best time to body brush is immediate after a contrast shower and immediately before applying a cream. And finally, the best time to have an anti-cellulite treatment is immediately after exercise (as I explain in another article) and immediately before a contrast shower. So the ideal complete routine should be something like this:
- Cellulite cream (optional)
- Cellulite treatment (or self-massage)
- Contrast shower
- Body brushing
- Cellulite cream
You may include or take out of this routine as many or as few steps as you want. This is an ideal routine whose full application depends on time, and also on the cost of the treatments and the creams. Body brushing, as I explain in another article on this site, is not as effective as beauty therapists and journalists want you to believe, and the only reason I suggest it is as an exfoliation method to help increase the absorption of the anti-cellulite cream you may be using.
Maximise your cellulite cream's effectiveness, help prevent cellulite
Neither a contrast shower nor self-massage can replace the effectiveness of a good anti-cellulite treatment, but they cost nothing and can be used as no-cost add-ons to your course of professional cellulite treatments. In addition, by maximizing the absorption and effectiveness of your cellulite cream, a contrast shower will make the money you paid for the cream go further.
And if you don’t have cellulite, why not use contrast showering to offer a pleasant micro-massage to your thighs and buttocks and therefore boost circulation and prevent cellulite? Of course the combination of contrast showers with muffins and caramel macchiatos will not keep the cellulite at bay for long. However, with a reasonable diet, contrast showers will help you prevent cellulite. Generally speaking, the more naughty food you eat (you know, fats, starches, sugars, alcohol) and the more sedentary you are, then the more professional cellulite treatments and use cellulite creams become important, if you ant to avoid cellulite.
Other forms of contrast showering
Athletes and sports people use contrast baths to recover from or prevent sports injuries and post-exercise muscle pain (also known as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness): alternating sauna or steam bath with a cold water plunge is another form of "contrast showering". Some athletes go as far as immersing themselves in a hot bath first and then plunging into a tub filled with ice cubes. I wouldn't advise covering your whole body in ice cubes, unless you know you're fit enough for that,, but immersing your legs in a really cold plunge is a fantastic way to stay firm and smooth.
You must not take very cold, very hot or contrast showers without medical approval if you suffer from a diagnosed or suspected heart disease, circulatory and respiratory conditions, diabetes, asthma, if you have a cold or other infection, if you faint easily and if you are in poor health in general. Contrast showers are very powerful and therefore must be treated with respect. In general, localized contrast showers on the calves and thighs are pretty safe, whilst full body contrast showers produce full body effects and must be treated with even more respect. So if you are uncertain, ask your doctor first before applying the advice contained in this article.
The worst time to have a contrast shower is before going to bed as it will probably keep you awake for some time. One of the best times is to have it first thing in the morning, as it can help you wake up - but only if you are brave enough. Unfortunately, I can only do that in the summer.
No more cellulite myths...
If you, like almost every other woman, are confused about what cellulite is, due to conflicting information found in the press, the internet, or that provided by beauty therapists and doctors alike, then read on: this page is for you.
90% of women will develop cellulite at some point in their lives. There are hundreds of anti-cellulite creams around but 90% of those creams don't really work. 90% of beauty salons offer some sort of cellulite treatment. And 90% of those treatments fail to offer you anything more than a slight, temporary reduction for the so called cottage cheese skin or orange peel skin (peau d' orange) appearance. And the obvious question is, why?
To find out why, we first have to have a clear knowledge of what cellulite is exactly and what causes it, so that we can determine what is the reason for most treatments failing to offer results, and more crucially how to devise an effective cellulite reduction program.
So what is cellulite exactly?
Cellulite is scientifically defined as Oedematous Fibrosclerotic Superficial Panniculitis (OFSB). In plain English this means: inflammation of the superficial deposits of fat, accompanied by water retention and scar tissue.
(Fat pouch) peaks and (collagen strand) troughs
To start explaining how the whole thing develops, it's worth noting that fat underneath the skin is always enclosed in little compartments wrapped up by a thin film of connective tissue (connective tissue is made of collagen, elastin and other proteins). These fat pouches are literally suspended by connective tissue strands that attach them to each other and anchor them to the surface of the skin above and other tissues below. This forms a three-dimensional suspension structure.
Now, its also worth noting that fat cells can swell several times their normal size. As these fat pockets enlarge with excess fat and water, they expand and push the skin surface upwards.
On the other hand, the connective tissue stands that connect the surface of the skin above with tissues below, become get injured, scarred and eventually contracted and shortened, pulling the skin down in the process.
The peaks (caused by fat pushing the skin out) and troughs (caused by connective tissue stands pulling the skin down) cause the mattress appearance we call cellulite (see photo below).
A web of complications - literally and metaphorically
Now the problem with cellulite is the sheer number of complicated negative feedback mechanisms that occur in the affected tissues:
- water retention inhibits fat removal, but does not prevent fat accumulation ("fat trap" effect)
- an excess of adenosine and alpha2 adrenoreceptors in the fat tissue, due to chronic exposure to estrogen, inhibits fat removal, but does not prevent fat accumulation ("fat trap" effect)
- water retention boosts inflammation - and vice versa
- inflammation causes fibrosis
- oxidative damage causes inflammation
- glycation (protein damage due to excess dietary sugars) causes fibrosis
- enlarged fat pushes cause fibrosis
- hypoxia (low oxygen levels due to poor circulation) causes fibrosis
- hypoxia causes fat tissue inflammation
- anti-nutrients and toxins from food and cigarettes also cause fat tissue inflammation
- glycation also causes oxidative damage
- ever expanding fat tissues break down the connective tissue around them, causing skin looseness / "flabbiness"
- ever expanding fat tissues inhibit circulation
As you can see, it just goes on and on and on... One complication causes another, which causes another, which causes another, and the whole thing becomes a never ending vicious circle that must be broken at various points, if we want to make some real progress with cellulite reduction. Breaking this web at just one point is pointless.
A comprehensive approach is needed
After reading the above, it also becomes quite clear how pathetic those caffeine-only cellulite creams sound; or the pointless "cellulite exercises"; or the ridiculous "fat melting" tights; or "body brushing"; or the so called "detox diets"; or some "gentle manual lymph drainage massage" etc.
- Reducing food intake is, by itself, not enough either, as evidence shows
- And the same applies to exercise, as every woman knows
- A bit of lymphatic drainage to (very temporarily) reduce water retention is clearly nowhere near enough. And let's not even talk about the joke practice of "body brushing"...
- Some caffeine cream to marginally boost fat removal and circulation will not do either. Otherwise, with the amounts of coffee women drink today, there would be no such a thing as cellulite. Caffeine does help, but on it's own is not even close enough to effectively remove cellulite. And let's not even mention the sheer time-wasting ritual of rubbing coffee scrubs on your legs.
- A good cellulite cream must contain actives which are widely established to work against many, if not all aspects of cellulite: fat AND poor circulation AND oxidative damage AND glycation AND fibrosis AND inflammation AND skin laxity.
- And the same applies to treatments: a good cellulite treatment should work on both skin laxity AND fat reduction AND poor circulation (there is no known technology that directly works on inflammation, fibrosis, oxidative damage and inflammation).
- And all these have to be combined with clean eating, vigorous exercise and smoke/alcohol avoidance, if some good results are to be expected.
That's how cellulite is reduced.
Why is protein so important for cellulite prevention and skin firmness?
All the body tissues that give you shape and make you look young and firm are made of protein. Your skin and other connective tissues are made of proteins such as elastin and collagen. Elastin offers elasticity whilst collagen provides firmness. A high protein skin level keeps you toned and fit, whilst a high water and fat level makes your skin look and feel loose, puffy and "cellulite-y" (loose skin, excess fat and water retention are the three hallmarks of cellulite).
Several lifestyle factors can degrade your skin and connective tissue proteins, both in terms of quality and quantity, creating skin looseness and cellulite in the process. The list below outlines the 10 most important things to avoid in order to maintain your skin and connective tissue protein integrity and consequently keep your skin firm and cellulite-free.
Keep very active - even if you do not consume excessive calories
You may already know that your body is very economical with fat: it does everything possible in it's power to maintain it's fat levels in order to be able to cope with starvation in the future. This is what helped us survive over the millennia and this is also what makes it so difficult to lose fat these days of plenty.
However, your body is not frugal only with fat, it is economical with protein too: maintaining protein tissue is metabolically very expensive for the body and if your body does not need a specific tissue it slowly breaks it down in order to reduce "maintenance costs". A business might call this "downsizing". In layman's terms this is called "if you don't use it, you lose it", and it applies not just to muscle but also to capillaries and skin.
So every time you sit on your bum in the office, or lie on the couch watching TV, you send a signal to your body to downsize: being immobile, you need less muscle tissue, less skin tissue, less ligament tissue, less tendon tissue, less blood capillary tissue, less lymphatic capillary tissue and less bone tissue. Who needs firmness and strong bones if there is no movement-induced vibration to utilise this firmness against? And who needs strong blood vessels if they are hardly ever used in a vigorous way? You might as well be a "blob": that would be very economical for your body and that's what it actually becomes after chronic immobilisation.
So as you understand, general physical activity and exercise are not important just to burn excess calories, they are also important because they send the right messages to your body to build new protein tissue and repair the existing one, thereby stimulating your body to maintain a firm skin, tones muscles, strong bones and an effective capillary network.
However, it's not only inactivity that make you lose protein form your tissues. Alcohol stimulates the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, a catabolic hormone that stimulates the removal of protein from the body. In addition, cortisol stimulates the creation of new fat cells in your abdominal area - hence the "beer belly".
Avoid excessive calorie intake
And it doesn't end here either. As adipocytes (fat cells) expand, they physically break down the connective tissue matrix around them in order to accommodate the extra calories that you stuff them with. Remember, what you call firmness depends on connective tissue (made of protein), and allowing your fat cells to expand and break this tissue down means more skin laxity.
Use non-hormonal contraception
Being on the pill, therefore having excessive estrogen in your system, helps expand your fat cells and leads to further skin laxity.
Cigarette smoke, contains chemicals that cause free radicals and inflammation which damage your connective tissue and blood vessels. Smoking doesn't just cause cancer and heart disease, but skin ageing and poor circulation on your thighs as well.
Keep off hydrogenated fats (trans fatty acids)
Nasty trans-fats, fried oils and other dietary and environmental toxins disturb cellular function, cause inflammation and free radical damage and therefore have a negative effect on connective tissue, including your skin and your blood vessels. This is why fried food and hydrogenated fats are leading causes of heart disease. Trans fats are contains in frying oils, margarines and margarine-rich foods such as pasties, croissant, muffins etc.
Avoid sugar and sugary foods
Sugar is the number one cause of cellulite today, not only because of the excess calories it provides, it's addictive nature and the fluctuations in insulin levels and the insulin resistance that it causes. Sugar and overcooked starches also cause connective tissue degradation and ageing through a process called glycation.
Avoid nutrient deficiency
Lack of connective tissue-specific nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, aminoacids) caused by nutrient-poor, calorie-rich diets cause connective tissue deterioration on skin (leading to skin looseness) and on blood vessels (leading to poor circulation and water retention), further worsening the appearance and health of your legs and buttocks.
Avoid wearing tight clothes
Wearing tight clothes restricts your circulation and lymphatic drainage and makes it difficult to remove excess water and waste products from the tissues, leading to inflammation and water retention.
Fat would also have a tendency to "hang around" in the tissues and not be removed, even if you were on a fat loss diet, thereby making the diet less efficient for your cellulite. Graduated compression garments are an exception to this rule because they actually boost circulation and lymphatic drainage due to the pressure gradient between the extremities and the torso, but in any case they should not be worn for more than 8 hours a day.
Avoid crash dieting and yoyo dieting at all costs
Follow a crash diet and you will certainly lose protein from your skin, which will then be replaced by fat when you regain your weight, thereby replacing firmness with flab. Do this yo-yo dieting for several years and surprise yourself with how loose your skin has become.
Do vibration plate training - lots of it
Vibration platform training (also known as power plate) is the strongest form of skin firming, connective tissue building exercise. It helps boost skin, blood vessel, tendon, ligament and bone connective tissue, protein levels and firmness.
All you need to do is stand (NEVER sit or lie) for 20' on the machine, either doing squats or just checking your Facebook messages - whatever you do the vibration will stimulate skin firming on the above tissues. If you exercise at the same time, all the better, as you all build more leg muscle. If not, it's still works.
Personally, I do my heavy weights separately and then go on the vibration plate in the end, as a way of relaxing and boosting circulation / waste product removal from my body.
And most importantly, eat enough protein!
I cannot emphasis this enough: most women simply do not get enough proteins, not just vegans and vegetarians. For some reason, protein got a bad name in the 90s by ill-informed nutritionists, dieticians and naturopaths, who thought that excess protein is not needed and the body can survive with very little protein. The truth is, that although the body can survive with little anything, it cannot thrive with lack of resources. 1-2g/kg of body weight will NOT cause kidney damage, as the prophets of doom mentioned above claim and are absolutely fine.
Skin, muscle organs, even bone are all made to a large extent of protein, and if you do not provide your body with enough protein daily, yes, it will hold on to existing, denatured, partially damaged protein, in order to survive. This basically means low protein tissue repair, which in beauty terms is translated as ageing.
So, go on and tuck into this chicken, fish, red meat, eggs, yoghurt and pulses! And if you are vegan or vegetarian do not buy into the myth that nuts, tofu and especially quinoa contain enough protein, they don't! These days there are plenty of high quality, highly concentrated vegan protein powders made of rice, peas, hemp and even cranberries. Having such a protein drink once or twice a day will provide you with all the protein you need, without having to resort to binging on tofu day in, day out, for eternity. We all know now that tofu, and soya in general, is not the health food we are brainwashed to believe it is...
Non vegetarians can also benefit from the same vegan protein powders, or can also have whey, casein, egg protein too, as well as hydrolysed collagen supplements, which are indeed proven to help with skin firmness.
The contribution of cellulite creams and skin firming treatments
The above is a pretty exhaustive list of things you can do yourself to avoid losing your skin firmness and keeping cellulite at bay.
In addition to these measures you can also consider receiving regular high-intensity deep tissue radiofrequency treatments, the strongest skin tightening / firming technology known today.
Furthermore, a comprehensive, highly concentrated cream which contains multiple skin firming ingredients can also be of help.
The combination of cream, treatment and the above 12 measures is guaranteed to boost skin firmness and keep cellulite at bay.
What are the main causes of cellulite?
The following diagram graphically displays the main causes of cellulite:
Why did you present "natural estrogen" as one of the major cellulite-causing factors?
Estrogen is the reason women develop cellulite and men don't. This is because estrogen stimulates the proliferation (multiplication) of adipocytes (fat cells) in the subcutaneous tissue (lower part of the skin) of the thighs and butt, and sometimes that of the calves, stomach and upper arms. Without estrogen those cells do not proliferate excessively and therefore you don't develop fat pockets underneath your skin. Men who eat too much or sit on their bum may become fat or flabby, respectively, but do not normally develop cellulite. Men only develop cellulite when their body starts secreting excess estrogen. This only happens when they become overweight and/or old and their body transforms too much testosterone into estrogen, via a process called aromatisation, or when they change sex (male to female transexual).
Needless to say, of course, that the worse type of estrogen, both in regard to cellulite and cancer, is artificial estrogen, in the form of contraceptive pill (mentioned above as an even stronger cellulite factor than natural oestrogen), xenoestrogens from plastics and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Furthermore, pregnancy is a leading cause of cellulite due to the very high estrogen levels secreted by the body during that period.
Why did you mention inactivity separately to "calorie surplus" as a cellulite-causing factor? Isn't it all the same?
Nope. Even if you a follow a perfectly healthy diet you will still develop cellulite if you sit on your bum all day. This is because inactivity causes the proliferation of adipocytes at the expense of fibroblasts (collagen cells), regardless of calorie surplus or not. This simply makes you flabbier and fatter on the surface, i.e. more cellulite-y. In addition, inactivity slows down your blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, further exacerbating cellulite.
Similarly, if you exercise a lot but your eating/drinking habits are so excessive that you manage to accumulate a calorie surplus every day, you will also develop cellulite, regardless of how much you exercise.
To be precise, it is binge eating/drinking in combination with inactivity on the same day that causes the most damage, rather than a small daily surplus throughout the year. This is because under those circumstances your body literally "dumps" the excessive calories straight into your fat cells - including your "cellulite fat cells" that by nature are designed to act as fat traps.
What about heredity?
Heredity also plays a role, but to develop cellulite you do need excess calories and/or inactivity, PLUS estrogen, the main preconditions. I am certain that cave women did not have cellulite, regardless of their mum's genes, simply because they did not have access to doughnuts, computers, estrogenic chemicals from plastics and chemical contraception, among the other presents of modern civilisation. You simply cannot develop cellulite if you walk all day and eat loads of veg and lean mean, fish, berries and nuts - like our stone age ancestors did.
Why is caffeine shown as a minor cellulite-causing factor?
Because it is. Caffeine can potentially cause cellulite INDIRECTLY, due to the stimulation-exhaustion-stimulation pattern it's cyclical use causes to your metabolism, and possibly due to your kidneys becoming dependent on it for water elimination, leading to water retention. However, the evidence on both issue is quite thin.
On the other hand, caffeine is well-known as an anti-fibrotic chemical, and that should be protective against cellulite, to some extent at least.
So, in summary, I would say that only excessive caffeine may cause cellulite, and that is not even a major cause of cellulite, anyway.
OK, now that I know what causes cellulite what can I practically do to reduce it?
Well, avoiding the causes is always a good start! So start by eating healthily (organic, if possible), exercising a lot and avoiding chemical contraception, smoking and excessive drinking. And then add to the mix a quality anti-cellulite cream and, if possible, some intensive cellulite treatments.
And if you are 22, just remember that prevention is always better than cure - you will not remain 22 years' old forever :)
- Vigorous exercise (such as running, interval running, cycling/spinning, fast swimming etc.) provides the most potent lipolytic (fat releasing) stimulus in the body. This stimulus is much stronger than any drug could ever provide. And contrary to drugs, exercise is good for you and free of side-effects.
- However, the fat release stimulus of exercise is applied on the whole body. You cannot reduce fat on a specific area by exercising the adjacent muscles. Even worse, areas that suffer from poor lymph drainage (such as the cellulite tissues) actually benefit less from the lipolytic effects of exercise than circulation-rich tissues.
- That's where a strong cellulite treatment, such as high intensity, deep tissue radiofrequency, comes into play. A strong radiofrequency treatment releases fat from SPECIFIC fat cells, and also increases LOCAL circulation, which helps remove that fat away from the cellulite tissues and into the general circulation, where it can be burned for energy by the muscles.
- The synergy is obvious: both exercise and radiofrequency stimulate fat release from fat cells and they both both boost circulation, making sure fat is taken away from the fat cells and into the muscles, and then the muscles burn this fat for energy. However, radiofrequency ensures fat is taken away from SPECIFIC fat tissue sites and circulation is boosted in that SPECIFIC fat tissue, two things which cannot happen with exercise. Not bad!
- It would be perfect if you were able to run and have radiofrequency at the same time, but as this is impossible, you can compromise by having a your radiofrequency session (or a session of any other strong anti-cellulite treatment, such as high intensity ultrasound) just before or after exercise.
- Perfectionists can have treatment both before and after :)
What is the ultimate fate of toxins, fat and waste products that are removed from cellulite and other tissues by cellulite treatments?
Different cellulite and water retention treatments help remove toxins, excess water, fat and waste products from the superficial tissues of the legs, arms and stomach, including the so-called cellulite tissues.
Since a lot of press articles and promotional material misinform the public as to what happens to the fat, water and toxins that are removed from the tissues by cellulite/lymph drainage treatments, we thought it would be a good idea to clarify the matter and provide accurate information.
First of all, it is important to note that not all treatments are efficient in removing fat, water and toxins from the tissues, especially in relation to the money and time you spend per treatment. But for the sake of argument let's assume that you were lucky/smart enough to chose a time- and cost-effective treatment that does indeed help your body remove fat, water and waste products from the tissues.
Stage 1 : From tissues to heart
As soon as fat is released from the adipocytes (fat cells) it enters the so called intercellular space where it accumulates waiting to enter a vein or lymph capillary. If your circulation/lymph drainage is poor then fat quite often re-enters the fat cell and nothing happens: you're still stuck with excess fat in your fat cell. If your circulation is good, or if it is effectively stimulated by your anti-cellulite/water retention treatment, then the fat molecules enter the vein or lymph capillaries.
The intercellular spaces also contain waste products, toxins and quite often excess water. Again, if your natural lymphatic drainage/blood circulation is efficient or effectively stimulated by your treatment, these substances also enter the lymph/vein capillaries, otherwise they stay in your tissues.
As soon as interstitial fluid enters the lymphatic capillaries it is called lymph. Lymph in the lymphatic capillaries is moved to the larger lymph vessels of the leg towards the inguinal lymph glands in the groin. From there it ultimately enters the "thoracic duct", a large lymphatic trunk underneath your abdominal organs. From there, lymph drains into a vein on the base of your neck (at a junction called terminus) and enters the heart. Similarly, lymph from the arm tissues reach the axillary lymph glands in your armpit, enter a vein on the base of the neck and also reach the heart.
If the fluid enters a vein capillary it mixes with - and becomes part of - the vein blood. In the same way lymph is transported towards the heart, waste products from the veins of the legs, enter larger veins and eventually enter the heart.
Stage 2: From the heart to kidneys, liver, muscles and (god forbid...) back to your fat cells
From the heart, waste products and toxins eventually end up in the kidneys/liver where they are expelled by the body in the form of urine/faeces, respectively. Water is expelled by the kidneys as urine, by the lungs as part of the breath, and by the skin as sweat. This process is more efficient if the liver detoxification system and your kidneys function well. In addition, if you exercise/eat healthily lymphatic drainage is also more effective, and adds to the efficiency of the treatment, thereby increasing the efficiency of your treatment.
However, contrary to tabloid wisdom, glossy promotional brochures and internet misinformation, fat is NOT expelled by the body through the kidneys or the liver. It would be pathological if such a thing were to happen. In fact, fat finds it's way into muscles, organs or (other) fat cells. If you happen to spend more calories than you ingest, most of that fat will be oxidised ("burned") in your muscles and organs for energy. Conversely, if you consume more calories than your body needs, most of the fat will end up back to your fat cells (including the cellulite fat cells).
Yes, that's right. A cellulite treatment is not enough to effectively remove cellulite fat - you also need to exercise and restrict your calories in order to lose cellulite! Fat cannot be burned onsite by a cellulite machine or cream, neither it is removed by the faeces or urine. Also, fat is definitely impossible to sweat out through the skin with the aid of a body wrap or by going into a sauna (including far-infrared saunas). And if any promotional brochure, press article or website states so, the author they are simply lying or are grossly misinformed...
Beer, carbs, alcohol and glycaemic index
Different types of alcohol have different effects on the body, depending on their alcohol and carbohydrate content. Beer seems to be one of the worst types of alcoholic drinks you can have, as it contains a high amount of high GI carbohydrates, in addition to alcohol. Because of this combination of the extremely high glycemic index carbs (GI=110) and alcohol - and quiet often the fattening, greasy, salty food that goes together with it - drinking beer is a recipe for belly fat and cellulite.
Why exactly is beer so fattening?
The glycaemic index describes the speed at which a food raises blood glucose levels (i.e. blood sugar levels) and, as a consequence, blood insulin levels. High glycemic index foods raise blood sugar levels very quickly and lead to an abrupt raise of blood insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas to stimulate the absorption of nutrients (fat, glucose, aminoacids) by your cells, including your stomach fat cells and cellulite fat cells.
In addition, alcohol raises the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is another fattening hormone, which is actually even more potent when combined with insulin. Cortisol is also a catabolic hormone, meaning that it leads to the loss of protein from tissues, thereby weakening your skin, connective tissue and blood vessels, thereby causing skin looseness and fluid retention.
Cellulite is primarily superficial fat, lack of firmness and water retention and alcohol, especially beer, causes all three of them!
Does that mean I have to quit beer altogether?
Well, why not? Wine is a much better alternative, especially red wine that contains antioxidants such as resveratrol, which to some extent balance the negative effects of the alcohol it contains - as long as you don't consume more than two small glasses (125ml) at any one day, and you don't make it a habit to drink those 1~2 glasses every single day.
Otherwise, if you love beer so much, make sure you don't drink excessively, don't have fattening food with it, choose a light beer (i.e. one with less alcohol and/or less carbohydrate content) and try to burn the calories the same evening - not the day after, when it will all be too late. Needless to say that if you care about the smoothness of your thighs and stomach, beer with fish and chips is not a good idea, neither eating a kebab at 3am after 6 pints of beer...
Endocrine disruptors, cancer and obesity
It is now well accepted that several man-made chemicals disrupt the endocrine system, causing obesity and cancer, among other health conditions. Such chemicals are aptly named endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and examples comprise substances such as tributyltin, bisphenol A, diethylsilbestrol, phthalates and possibly polybrominated diphenyl ethers and perfluoro-compounds. These chemicals are widely used in materials and devices of everyday usage, including food and drink packaging, clothes and fabrics, food, cooking utensils, perfumes, furniture and wood, animal feed, and others. Their pervasive use is regarded to be one of the reasons behind the obesity and cancer epidemic today, and one cannot fail to spot the obvious connections between EDCs and cellulite.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) and cellulite
Cellulite is characterised by an excessive proliferation and hypertrophy (enlargement) of adipocytes (fat cells). Given that EDCs directly act on the fat cells causing them to proliferate and enlarge, it is not very difficult to see the connection.
EDCs can lead to obesity (or localised obesity of the superficial tissues of the legs, called cellulite) via several different mechanisms. According to research conducted in the last decade, appetite increase, estrogenic action, adipocyte enlargement and proliferation, and lipid imbalance are the most important obesogenic mechanisms.
Seeing things from a historical perspective, we can easily see the connection between the emergence and consequent prevalence of endocrine disrupting chemicals and that of cellulite. The appearance of EDCs and the prevalence of cellulite occurred at the same time, i.e. at the second half of the 20th century, and continue unabated today!
The so called pre-cellulite tissues specifically, are particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of endocrine disrupting toxins. This is because blood circulation and lymph drainage in those areas tends to be poor, and also because the cellulite fat cells act as traps for the, primarily fat-soluble, EDC toxins.
Putting things into perspective / Practical advice
Of course cellulite is also caused by overeating, living a sedentary life, smoking, drinking, and by making use of another very common endocrine disruptor: hormonal contraception, in the form of pills, injections and patches. However, we should not discount the influence that those endocrine disruptive toxins have in our body.
Therefore, emphasis should be given on avoiding exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. That's the first line of your defence. Boosting the body's natural detoxification system is the second line of defence against EDCs.
The third line of your defence is fighting cellulite proactively, with regular cellulite prevention treatments. Given that now cellulite affects 90% of women at some time in their life and once it appears it does not usually go away solely with diet and exercise, many proactive (or perfectionist) women choose this option. Cellulite creams are a more economical proposition, and if they are concentrated enough and used regularly can also contribute towards cellulite prevention and reduction at a relatively low cost.
Most cellulite treatments do not "work". Why?
There are several reasons why most cellulite treatments do not work. Here are the 8 most important ones.
The treatment is too simplistic to work
Cellulite is a complicated aesthetic condition, therefore simplistic approaches involving one type of treatment and nothing else do not offer satisfactory results. In most cases you will need a combination of treatments, taken at regular intervals, combined with a tailor-made diet and exercise regime and a quality cellulite cream to achieve noteworthy results.
The treatment is irrelevant to your needs
For the same reason above, i.e. due to cellulite's complexity, one-size-fits-all treatments that are not tailor-made to your needs will not work either. For example, if your cellulite is characterised by loose connective tissue and you keep receiving lymphatic drainage massages to reduce water retention, obviously nothing will happen.
The treatment either does not work at all or it only offers temporary results
Many treatments do not work at all (normal massage is a good example). On the other hand, any treatment that seems to offer fast, impressive immediate results works by draining water off your tissues, which of course duly returns in a few days.
You only received 2-3 sessions and gave up
Cellulite cannot disappear with 2-3 miracle treatments regardless of how much money you throw on those treatments. To change, your body needs regularity of stimulation (i.e. regularity of treatments) as well as time for that stimulus regularity to bear results. Practically speaking, your body needs a good 6-12 sessions of a quality cellulite treatment, received once a week or once in two weeks, over a period of one to six months, for significant changes to occur in your cellulite tissues. If you decide to have only 2-3 sessions, either because of time/money constraints or because you were misled to believe that cellulite can be reduced by a miracle treatment in 2-3 sessions, then you may end up with the conclusion that that specific treatment did not work.
The treatment does work but very, very slowly
Some treatments do work but they are so ineffective that you may need dozens of sessions for some decent results to appear. Given that nobody has the patience to have 50 sessions for just decent results, you can classify those treatments in the "doesn't work" category.
The treatment works but you expect total cellulite removal which in most cases is impossible
In most cases cellulite cannot be reduced completely, simply because permanent, irreversible damage to the cellulite connective tissue occurs after cellulite appearing. In that case cellulite can only be removed partially, even with the best of treatments. So if you expected total removal - and paid a fortune on that premise - you would be disappointed and conclude that the treatment doesn't work.
The treatment works but you expect miracles
All cellulite treatments require your active participation in the form of diet and exercise to offer you good results. Many cellulite treatment providers erroneously claim that your cellulite will disappear solely with their treatments (without any effort on your part), which is a complete fallacy. If you exercise regularly and eat healthily, you will make the most of your treatment. If not, you might think that the treatment you received did not work.
The treatment works but you really don't care, so your cellulite actually gets worse
This is when you sign up for a course of cellulite treatments and then actively engage into heavy drinking / eating / smoking and never exercise, only to wonder why did your cellulite become worse. Believe it or not, there are many women who fall into this category...
...there are three types of reasons why a cellulite treatment works or not: either the treatment itself is not that effective, or you undermine / not contribute to the whole process with your lifestyle or your expectations are too high. Setting realistic goals, following a healthy lifestyle and choosing an intensive cellulite treatment specific to your needs, possibly combined with a concentrated cellulite cream, will offer you the best results.
The combination of excessive sugar consumption, hormonal contraception and computer work is primarily responsible for the prevalence of cellulite today
Cellulite has existed in overweight or genetically "unlucky" women for millennia since the advent of agriculture. However in today's western world cellulite has reached epidemic status, even in very young women. There are many reasons for this sudden increase in the prevalence of cellulite today, including excessive drinking, fat consumption, smoking and the pervasiveness of endocrine disrupting chemicals/xenoestrogens in foods, food packaging and the environment in general.
However, as we will see below, the strongest cellulite-causing factor is the combination of sugar consumption, sedentary living revolving around the use of computers for work and "play", and the use of hormonal contraception (in the form of pills, patches and injections). These three factors exert synergistic and complementary effects on the pre-cellulite tissues of female thighs and hips, stimulating their conversion to "cellulite proper".
[Note: For this article we will use the collective term "sugar" for all the different types of sugar (sucrose/white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, maltose, fructose, honey, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dextrose and maltodextrin, among others), as well as foods that contain high amounts of those sugars, such as desserts, muffins, cup cakes, croissants, ice cream, chocolate, cakes, doughnuts, biscuits, cookies, milk shakes, fizzy drinks, fruit juices, juice drinks etc. In addition, the phrase "contraceptive pill" will also apply to hormonal contraception based on injections or patches, which are nothing else but different vehicles for the absorption by the body of cellulite-causing artificial estrogenic chemicals.]
How sugar causes cellulite, weight gain, inflammation and skin ageing
Sugar, the number one cause of cellulite today, directly or indirectly causes cellulite in three different ways:
- Sugar floods the bloodstream with excess glucose (which if not immediately used, is stored in your cellulite fat cells as fat/triglycerides) and fructose (which is directly converted into fat/triglycerides in the liver and is consequently also stored as fat in the cellulite fat cells)
- Through glycation and low grade inflammation sugar degrades your connective tissue of your skin, blood and lymph vessels and the collagen strands/septae found in your cellulite tissues
- Sugar also stimulates the proliferation of adipose cells (fat cells) in the body
How the pill (= excessive, artificial estrogens) causes cellulite, weight gain and water retention
The pill (excessive artificial estrogens) also causes cellulite via three mechanisms
- Estrogen/the pill ensures that fat/sugar have enough storage space to be deposited in, by stimulating the proliferation of adipocytes specifically on the thighs and buttocks, and even more particularly on the surface of the thighs and buttocks (i.e. the so called cellulite tissues)
- Estrogen/the pill also ensures that these fat cells act as fat magnets, by altering the expression of specific proteins on the walls of those cells (alpha-2 adrenoreceptors, adenosine receptors)
- Finally, because excessive estrogen/the pill makes blood cells stickier and blood and lymph vessels weaker, it also negatively affects micro-circulation and lymphatic drainage, leading to water retention, a major cause of cellulite
Obviously receiving medication that contains an excessive amount of artificial estrogens, as is the case with hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), makes the situation much worse.
How sedentary living causes cellulite, weight gain, loose skin and water retention
Being extremely sedentary, as when stuck in front of the computer all day for either work or leisure, also has a triple-whammy effect on your cellulite:
- Computer work reduces calorie expenditure to a minimum, ensuring that a large proportion of calories you ingest are deposited into your fat cells, instead of being used for energy
- In addition, sedentary living reduces fibroblast (collagen cell) output and gradually stimulates the replacement of collagen cells with fat cells, thereby replacing your god-given firmness with fat and "flabbiness"
- Finally, sedentary living severely reduces blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, also leading to water retention.
How sugar, the "pill" and office work conspire together to accelerate the development of cellulite
Up to this point in this article we explained how each one of the above lifestyle factors causes cellulite on each own. Below we will see how those three factors conspire together to create the "cellulite epidemic" we are experiencing today, and we will also offer practical advice on what you can do to reduce or eliminate the development of cellulite related to those or other factors.
How Chloe finds it impossible to avoid the development of cellulite
Imagine the typical scenario of Chloe, a young woman who is "on the pill", works all day in front of the computer and when she goes home she logs on the internet to email, "Google" and meet her friends on Facebook.
Since Chloe's teenage years, her natural estrogen worked in the background to increase the number and alter the function of fat cells on her thighs and bottom - and still does the very same thing today. The pill that she has been taking for a few years now, has further increased that effect and it still exerts the same influence every single day today.
Because Chloe sits down all day, spending a minimal amount of calories and providing minimal mechanical stimulation to her thigh and buttock fibroblasts (collagen cells), her body is further inclined to replace her fibroblasts with adipocytes (fat cells). This replaces firmness with fat on Chloe's thighs and buttocks, making the skin loose and "squishy".
Chloe keeps eating sugary snacks to help her focus throughout the day or to fight the boredom that computer work causes her. The sugar from the sugary snacks quickly floods her bloodstream with glucose and fructose. Sitting on her bum all day ensures that a large amount of that glucose and fructose has no other option than to be absorbed by her cellulite fat cells, whose proliferation has been stimulated by her sedentary lifestyle and the contraceptive pill.
Furthermore, the daily consumption of sugars slowly leads to inflammation and protein damage (glycation) of her skin and other connective tissues, ultimately leading to skin looseness and skin aging.
Finally, sugar, artificial estrogens and sedentary living, all have a detrimental effect on her blood circulation and lymph drainage, causing her to suffer from water retention on her thighs, hips, calves and feet.
All in all, if Chloe continues like this, she will find it impossible not to develop cellulite: connective tissue deterioration, water retention, superficial fat accumulation, inflammation, skin looseness, glycation, together comprise what we call cellulite and they all simultaneously occur in her body.
What you can practically do to avoid cellulite
To avoid Chloe's fate you must reduce one, two or ideally three of the above main cellulite-causing factors (and if possible work on reducing all other cellulite risk factors: smoking, exposure to endocrine disrupting plastics, drinking etc.).
Obviously, I do not expect you to quit your job and become a personal trainer, fruit picker or gardener in order to avoid the effects of sedentary occupation. An hour of swimming, running or fast walking, in addition to three sessions of 20' vibration training per week, should be enough to "undo" the damage that working in front of the computer causes. Unfortunately Yoga, Pilates and other static, non-vigorous methods of exercise will not be enough.
Cutting down on sugars (and refined carbs that behave in your body like sugars, such as bread and white rice) is much simpler but not necessarily easier. The best solution is to quit sugary snacks "cold turkey", and after a period of about one month reintroduce them in your diet in small amounts and only immediately after one hour of vigorous exercise.
Regarding oestrogen and the pill, I do not expect you to change sex in order to avoid cellulite, but quitting the pill and replacing it with other methods of contraception is not a bad idea. Moreover, quite often doctors prescribe contraception for reasons that have nothing to do with contraception, such as acne, fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, period regulation, PMS etc. However, you do not need to be on the pill in order to reduce or eliminate those symptoms. In most cases these conditions are caused by lifestyle factors (typically inactivity combined with sugar, alcohol, fat and high GI starch consumption which upsets your overall hormonal balance). Therefore, a change of diet, nutritional supplementation and loads of exercise may be what is needed to fight those conditions, and return to optimal health. However, it is unadvisable to make these changes on your own. A good nutritionist that specialises in female hormonal problems should guide you through this process, ideally working together with your doctor.
In summary, the more of the above factors you reduce, the smaller the risk of developing cellulite will be. If you cannot fully eliminate all three factors, try to work with two or at least one of those factors, and make up for the difference by receiving a good cellulite treatment and applying a quality, concentrated cellulite cream.
What does the Hexapeptide-VGVAPG do and how can it help my skin?
Like many similar matrikine peptides (tripeptides, tetrapeptides, pentapeptides etc.), Hexapeptide Pal-VGVAPG is has anti-ageing and wrinkle-smoothing properties and also boosts skin barrier repair (which in turn prevents dehydration).
Matrikines are messenger peptides, i.e. blocks of aminoacids specifically involved in cell communication and repairing skin damage. This specific peptide contains the following six aminoacids: Valine, Glycine, Valine, Alanine, Proline, Glycine, hence the name Hexapeptide Pal-VGVAPG. Peptides and aminoacids are the building blocks of proteins.
Hexapeptide Pal-VGVAPG is not just any matrikine. This specific peptide is actually the spring fragment of elastin, i.e. it is the part that gives elastin it's elastic properties, and consequently it can improve skin elasticity. With age skin loses it's youthful elasticity and VGVAPG can help delay this process and improve skin elasticity.
Furthermore, Hexapeptide Pal-VGVAPG has chemotactic properties, i.e. it attracts fibroblasts (connective tissue cells that produce elastin and collagen) and monocytes (immune system cells) onto skin areas that need repair.
Why does Hexapeptide-VGVAPG help with cellulite reduction?
Given that cellulite is characterised by connective tissue damage (hardened scar tissue mixed with loose, unelastic tissue) and low grade inflammation, Hexapeptide-VGVAPG is well placed as an anti-cellulite ingredient due to it's skin repairing, elasticity-boosting properties.
Of course, no single molecule can single-handedly provide significant results with a complex skin condition such as cellulite. For example cellulite is also characterised by superficial fat accumulation for which Hexapeptide Pal-VGVAPG cannot do anything. However, in combination with other synergistic natural chemicals, as part of a concentrated anti-cellulite cream, this peptide can definitely prove useful in reducing cellulite. Healthy diet, regular exercise and possibly a course of vigorous cellulite massages, or other quality cellulite treatments, will further enhance this effect.
- Source: Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer's disease.
- Abstract: Recent studies have implicated resveratrol and pterostilbene, a resveratrol derivative, in the protection against age-related diseases including Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism for the favorable effects of resveratrol in the brain remains unclear and information about direct cross-comparisons between these analogs is rare. As such, the purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of diet-achievable supplementation of resveratrol to that of pterostilbene at improving functional deficits and AD pathology in the SAMP8 mouse, a model of accelerated aging that is increasingly being validated as a model of sporadic and age-related AD. Furthermore we sought to determine the mechanism of action responsible for functional improvements observed by studying cellular stress, inflammation, and pathology markers known to be altered in AD. Two months of pterostilbene diet but not resveratrol significantly improved radial arm water maze function in SAMP8 compared with control-fed animals. Neither resveratrol nor Pterostilbene increased sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) expression or downstream markers of sirtuin 1 activation. Importantly, markers of cellular stress, inflammation, and AD pathology were positively modulated by pterostilbene but not resveratrol and were associated with upregulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) alpha expression. Taken together our findings indicate that at equivalent and diet-achievable doses pterostilbene is a more potent modulator of cognition and cellular stress than resveratrol, likely driven by increased peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha expression and increased lipophilicity due to substitution of hydroxy with methoxy group in pterostilbene.
- Source: Berberine activates thermogenesis in white and brown adipose tissue.
- Abstract: Obesity develops when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Promoting brown adipose tissue formation and function increases energy expenditure and hence may counteract obesity. Berberine (BBR) is a compound derived from the Chinese medicinal plant Coptis chinensis. Here we show that BBR increases energy expenditure, limits weight gain, improves cold tolerance and enhances brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity in obese db/db mice. BBR markedly induces the development of brown-like adipocytes in inguinal, but not epididymal adipose depots. BBR also increases expression of UCP1 and other thermogenic genes in white and BAT and primary adipocytes via a mechanism involving AMPK and PGC-1α. BBR treatment also inhibits AMPK activity in the hypothalamus, but genetic activation of AMPK in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus does not prevent BBR-induced weight loss and activation of the thermogenic programme. Our findings establish a role for BBR in regulating organismal energy balance, which may have potential therapeutic implications for the treatment of obesity.
- Source: Resveratrol: anti-obesity mechanisms of action
- Abstract: Resveratrol is a non-flavonoid polyphenol which belongs to the stilbenes group and is produced naturally in several plants in response to injury or fungal attack. Resveratrol has been recently reported as preventing obesity. The present review aims to compile the evidence concerning the potential mechanisms of action which underlie the anti-obesity effects of resveratrol, obtained either in cultured cells lines and animal models. Published studies demonstrate that resveratrol has an anti-adipogenic effect. A good consensus concerning the involvement of a down-regulation of C/EBPα and PPARγ in this effect has been reached. Also, in vitro studies have demonstrated that resveratrol can increase apoptosis in mature adipocytes. Furthermore, different metabolic pathways involved in triacylglycerol metabolism in white adipose tissue have been shown to be targets for resveratrol. Both the inhibition of de novo lipogenesis and adipose tissue fatty acid uptake mediated by lipoprotein lipase play a role in explaining the reduction in body fat which resveratrol induces. As far as lipolysis is concerned, although this compound per se seems to be unable to induce lipolysis, it increases lipid mobilization stimulated by β-adrenergic agents. The increase in brown adipose tissue thermogenesis, and consequently the associated energy dissipation, can contribute to explaining the body-fat lowering effect of resveratrol. In addition to its effects on adipose tissue, resveratrol can also acts on other organs and tissues. Thus, it increases mitochondriogenesis and consequently fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle and liver. This effect can also contribute to the body-fat lowering effect of this molecule.
- Source: Inhibitory effect of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate on lipid accumulation of 3T3-L1 cells.
- Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the attenuating effect of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on proliferation and lipid accumulation of 3T3-L1 cells, with a focus on the duration of EGCG treatment. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium assay and diamidino-2-phenylindole staining. The anti-adipogenic effect of EGCG on 3T3-L1 cells was analyzed by glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity and Oil red O staining. Western blot analysis was used to detect adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation and phosphorylation of its substrate, acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC), and expression of insulin (INS) receptor, INS receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1), and adipocyte marker proteins. RESULTS: Exposure to EGCG during the early period of adipogenesis (7 days) was sufficient to prevent lipid accumulation. During this period, EGCG greatly decreased expression of the adipocyte marker proteins peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma2 (PPARgamma2) and liver X receptor (LXR)-alpha. Furthermore, EGCG significantly induced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which led to AMPK activation, and these effects were eliminated by N-acetylcysteine (NAC) treatment. Also, EGCG increased the tyrosine phosphorylation of INS receptor and INS-1 with increasing incubation time. In contrast, EGCG treatment did not alter glycerol release in the presence or absence of 2',5'-dideoxyadenosine (DDA), indicating that EGCG had no effect on lipolysis. DISCUSSION: Our data demonstrate that EGCG decreased cell viability and inhibited differentiation of 3T3-L1 cells in a manner dependent on the duration of treatment. Also, we showed that inhibition of adipocyte differentiation by EGCG was associated with decreased glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) activity accompanied by a strong inhibition of PPARgamma2-induced transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the inhibition of adipocyte differentiation by EGCG involved generation of ROS and activation of AMPK.