Raspberry ketone cream boosts hair growth in men with alopecia and cheek skin elasticity in women, via IGF-1 stimulation (clinical study)

  • Source: Effect of topical application of raspberry ketone on dermal production of insulin-like growth factor-I in mice and on hair growth and skin elasticity in humans.
  • Abstract: "Sensory neurons release calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) on activation. We recently reported that topical application of capsaicin increases facial skin elasticity and promotes hair growth by increasing dermal insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) production through activation of sensory neurons in mice and humans. Raspberry ketone (RK), a major aromatic compound contained in red raspberries (Rubus idaeus), has a structure similar to that of capsaicin. Thus, it is possible that RK activates sensory neurons, thereby increasing skin elasticity and promoting hair growth by increasing dermal IGF-I production. In the present study, we examined this possibility in mice and humans. RK, at concentrations higher than 1 microM, significantly increased CGRP release from dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRG) isolated from wild-type (WT) mice and this increase was completely reversed by capsazepine, an inhibitor of vanilloid receptor-1 activation. Topical application of 0.01% RK increased dermal IGF-I levels at 30 min after application in WT mice, but not in CGRP-knockout mice. Topical application of 0.01% RK increased immunohistochemical expression of IGF-I at dermal papillae in hair follicles and promoted hair re-growth in WT mice at 4 weeks after the application. When applied topically to the scalp and facial skin, 0.01% RK promoted hair growth in 50.0% of humans with alopecia (n=10) at 5 months after application and increased cheek skin elasticity at 2 weeks after application in 5 females (p<0.04). These observations strongly suggest that RK might increase dermal IGF-I production through sensory neuron activation, thereby promoting hair growth and increasing skin elasticity."
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Raspberry ketone cream effects skin whitening / inhibits melanogenesis by blocking tyrosinase

  • Source: Evaluation of in vitro and in vivo depigmenting activity of raspberry ketone from Rheum officinale
  • Abstract: "Melanogenesis inhibition by raspberry ketone (RK) from Rheum officinale was investigated both in vitro in cultivated murine B16 melanoma cells and in vivo in zebrafish and mice. In B16 cells, RK inhibited melanogenesis through a post-transcriptional regulation of tyrosinase gene expression, which resulted in down regulation of both cellular tyrosinase activity and the amount of tyrosinase protein, while the level of tyrosinase mRNA transcription was not affected. In zebrafish, RK also inhibited melanogenesis by reduction of tyrosinase activity. In mice, application of a 0.2% or 2% gel preparation of RK applied to mouse skin significantly increased the degree of skin whitening within one week of treatment. In contrast to the widely used flavoring properties of RK in perfumery and cosmetics, the skin-whitening potency of RK has been demonstrated in the present study. Based on our findings reported here, RK would appear to have high potential for use in the cosmetics industry."
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Raspberry ketone fights inflammation by inhibiting NF-kB, COX-2 and LPS-induced iNOS

  • Source: Rheosmin, a naturally occurring phenolic compound inhibits LPS-induced iNOS and COX-2 expression in RAW264.7 cells by blocking NF-κB activation pathway
  • Abstract: "Inflammation is part of the host defense mechanism against harmful matters and injury; however, aberrant inflammation is associated to the development of chronic disease such as cancer. Raspberry ketone is a natural phenolic compound. It is used in perfumery, in cosmetics, and as a food additive to impart a fruity odor. In this study, we evaluated whether rheosmin, a phenolic compound isolated from pine needles regulates the expression of iNOS and COX-2 protein in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Rheosmin dose-dependently inhibited NO and PGE2 production and also blocked LPS-induced iNOS and COX-2 expression. Rheosmin potently inhibited the translocation of NF-κB p65 into the nucleus by IκB degradation following IκB-α phosphorylation. This result shows that rheosmin inhibits NF-κB activation. In conclusion, our results suggest that rheosmin inhibits LPS-induced iNOS and COX-2 expression in RAW264.7 cells by blocking NF-κB activation pathway."
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Raspberry ketone inhibits fat accumulation; increases lipolysis and fatty acid oxidation in fat cells; and boosts adiponectin

  • Source: Raspberry Ketone Increases Both Lipolysis and Fatty Acid Oxidation in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes
  • Abstract: "Raspberry ketone (RK) is a natural phenolic compound of the red raspberry. The dietary administration of RK to male mice has been reported to prevent high-fat diet-induced elevation in body weight and to increase lipolysis in white adipocytes. To elucidate a possible mechanism for the antiobesity action of RK, its effects on the expression and the secretion of adiponectin, lipolysis, and fatty acid oxidation in 3T3-L1 were investigated. Treatment with 10 µM of RK increased lipolysis significantly in differentiated 3T3-L1 cells. An immunoassay showed that RK increased both the expression and the secretion of adiponectin, an adipocytokine mainly expressed and secreted by adipose tissue. In addition, treatment with 10 µM of RK increased the fatty acid oxidation and suppressed lipid accumulation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. These findings suggest that RK holds great promise as an herbal medicine since its biological activities alter the lipid metabolism in 3T3-L1 adipocytes."
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Pterostilbene may improve athletic performance due to it's antioxidant and anti-inflamatory action, study suggests

  • Source: Well-Known Antioxidants and Newcomers in Sport Nutrition: Coenzyme Q10, Quercetin, Resveratrol, Pterostilbene, Pycnogenol and Astaxanthin
  • Abstract: Physical exercise induces an increase in production of free radicals and other reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Davies et al. 1982, Borzone et al. 1994, Halliwell and Gutteridge 1999). Current evidence indicates that ROS are the primary reason of exercise-induced disturbances in muscle redox balance. Severe disturbances in redox balance have been shown to promote oxidative injury and muscle fatigue (Reid et al. 1992, O’Neill et al. 1996) and thus impair the exercise performance. There are several potential sources of ROS that can be activated by exercise such as mitochondrial electron transfer chain, in the purine degradation pathway the reaction catalysed by xanthine oxidase, macrophage infiltration and metabolic degradation of catecholamines (Urso and Clarkson 2003, Finaud et al. 2006). The high production of ROS during exercise is also responsible for muscular damage (Aguiló et al. 2007). On the basis of the above-mentioned information, sportsmen have to improve their antioxidant defence systems to overcome the exercise-induced oxidative damage. Over the past few decades, many attempts have been made to improve antioxidant potential and therefore increase physical performance by improving nutrition, training programmes and other related factors. An antioxidant is generally defined as any substance that significantly delays or prevents oxidative damage of a target molecule (Halliwell 2007). The antioxidant defence system of the body consists of antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutases, catalase and glutathione peroxidase, etc.) and non-enzymatic antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and glutathione, etc.) (Deaton and Marlin 2003). There is a cooperative interaction between endogenous antioxidants and dietary antioxidants; therefore, antioxidant supplementation may improve the muscle fibre’s ability to scavenge ROS and protect the exercising muscle against exercise-induced oxidative damage and fatigue. However, antioxidant nutrient deficiency could induce an increased susceptibility to exercise-induced damage and thus leads to impaired exercise performance (Stear et al. 2009). Recently, the problem of whether or not athletes should use antioxidant supplements is an important and highly debated topic. To prevent these hypothetically negative or side effects of physical exercise, supplementation with different types of antioxidants has been used in a great number of studies (Snider et al. 1992, Rokitzki et al. 1994, Reid et al. 1994, Margaritis et al. 1997, Aguiló et al. 2007, Bloomer et al. 2012). In the context of this chapter, information in brief about the well-known and recently used antioxidants such as CoQ10, quercetin, resveratrol, pterostilbene, pycnogenol and astaxanthine is given. The effects of these antioxidants on exercise performance and exercise-induced oxidative stress are also explained. Pterostilbene (trans-3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxystilbene) is a stilbenoid chemically similar to resveratrol and is found in grapes, wine and berries (Rimando et al. 2004). Pterostilbene is generated by plants in response to microbial infestation or exposure to ultraviolet light (Langcake 1981). Pterostilbene is closely related structurally to resveratrol (a naturally occurring dimethylether analogue of resveratrol) and shows many of the same characteristics, as well as its own unique therapeutic potential (Rimando et al. 2002). Pterostilbene might show higher biological activity compared with resveratrol, because substitution of a hydroxy with a methoxy group increases the transport into cells and increases the metabolic stability of the molecule. Therefore, pterostilbene is not as quickly glucuronidated and sulphated as resveratrol. Pterostilbene is known to have many pharmacological benefits for the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases, including cancer (McCormack and McFadden 2012), dyslipidaemia (Rimando et al. 2005), diabetes (Amarnath Satheesh and Pari 2006), cardiovascular degeneration (Amarnath Satheesh and Pari 2008) and pain (Hougee et al. 2005). Antioxidant and antiinflamatory effects of pterostilbene are also demonstrated (Roupe et al. 2006, Perečko et al. 2010, Hsu et al. 2013). Pterostilbene possesses strong, dose-dependent antioxidant effects (Rimando et al. 2002, Amorati et al. 2004). The antioxidant activity of pterostilbene was first demonstrated in vitro by its inhibition of methyl linoleate oxidation (Roupe et al. 2006). It inhibits the production of hydroxyl radicals (Perečko et al. 2010). In terms of the antiinflamatory effect of pterostilbene, Hsu et al. (2013) demonstrated that pterostilbene downregulates inflammatory TNF-α, IL-6, cyclooxygenase-2, inducible nitric oxide synthase, IL-1β, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, C-reactive protein and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 expression by inhibiting the activation of NF-κB. According to our knowledge, to date no study has investigated the effects of pterostilbene supplementation on exercise performance, exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammatory response in both sedentary and trained individuals. On the basis of the current studies, pterostilbene may improve athletic performance by activating and supporting both antioxidant and antiinflamatory cascades in untrained and trained subjects. However, detailed animal and human studies are needed in this subject.
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Pterostilbene displays better anti-inflammatory activity than resveratrol!

  • Source: Pterostilbene surpassed resveratrol for anti-inflammatory application: Potency consideration and pharmacokinetics perspective
  • Abstract: This study aimed to evaluate the suitability of pterostilbene for anti-inflammatory application. The in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of pterostilbene were assessed using resveratrol, piceatannol and resveratrol trimethyl ether as comparators while its pharmacokinetics was examined in rats. All tested compounds displayed concentration-dependent anti-proliferative effect in E11 human rheumatoid arthritic synovial fibroblasts. They also suppressed LPS-induced NF-κB p65 nuclear translocation, down-regulated the secretions of IL-6, IL-18, VEGF, nitric oxide, MMP-2 and MMP-9 in E11 cells and attenuated E11-driven migration of THP-1 and U937 monocytes. Similarly, they inhibited LPS-induced pro-inflammatory cytokines in THP-1 cells. Interestingly, pterostilbene usually displayed in vitro anti-inflammatory potencies stronger than resveratrol.In vivo studies revealed that pterostilbene was extensively distributed to major drug target organs like liver, kidney, heart, lung as well as brain and repeated oral dosing did not significantly alter its pharmacokinetics. In conclusion, pterostilbene appears to be a promising candidate for further development.
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Centella asiatica and pine bark extract prevent the progression of atherosclerosis plaques

  • Source: Pycnogenol® and Centella Asiatica for asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression.
  • Abstract: AIM: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the nutritional supplements Pycnogenol and TECA (total triterpenic fraction of CentellaAsiatica) on atherosclerosis progression in low-risk asymptomatic subjects with carotid or femoral non-stenosing plaques. METHODS: This was an observational pilot substudy of the San Valentino epidemiological cardiovascular study. The study included 1363 subjects aged 45-60 without any conventional risk factors who had non stenosing atherosclerotic plaques (<50%) in at least one carotid or common femoral bifurcation, allocated into 6 groups: Group 1 (CONTROLS): management was based on education, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. This same management plan was used in all groups; Group 2 Pycnogenol 50 mg/day; Group 3 Pycnogenol 100 mg/day; Group 4 Aspirin 100 mg/day or Ticlopidine 250 mg/day if intolerant to aspirin; Group 5 Aspirin 100 mg/day and Pycnogenol 100 mg/day; Group 6 Pycnogenol 100 mg/day plus TECA (total triterpenic fraction of Centella Asiatica) 100 mg/day. There was a six monthly follow-up up to 30 months. Plaque progression was assessed using the ultrasonic arterial score based on the arterial wall morphology and the number of plaques that progressed from the non-stenotic to the stenotic group. A secondary endpoint was to evaluate the changes in oxidative stress at baseline and at 30 months. RESULTS: The ultrasonic score increased significantly in groups 1, 2 and 4 but not in groups 3, 5 and 6 suggesting a beneficial effect of Pycnogenol 100 mg.The percentage of plaques that progressed from class IV to class V was 8.4% in group 2, 5.3% in group 3, 4% in group 5 and 1.1% in group 6 (P<0.0001) compared with 16.6% in group 4 (aspirin) and 21.3% in the control group suggesting a beneficial effect of Pycnogenol. The lowest rate of progression was in group 6 (Pycnogenol plus TECA). At 30 months, the oxidative stress in all the Pycnogenol groups was less than in the control group. The oxidative stress was lower in the Pycnogenol 100 mg group than the Pycnogenol 50 mg group (P<0.0001). In the combined group of Pycnogenol and TECA the oxidative stress was less than the Pycnogenol alone (P<0.001). CONCLUSION: Pycnogenol and the combination of Pycnogenol+TECA appear to reduce the progression of subclinical arterial lesions in low-risk asymptomatic subjects. The reduction in plaque progression was associated with a reduction in oxidative stress. The results justify a large randomized controlled study to demonstrate the efficacy of the combined Pycnogenol and TECA prophylactic therapy in subclinical atherosclerosis.
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Centella asiatica improves varicose veins by inhibiting vein wall damage by catabolic enzymes

  • Source: Effects of Centella asiatica extract on mucopolysaccharide metabolism in subjects with varicose veins
  • Abstract: The effects were studied of the total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica on serum levels of the uronic acids and lysosomal enzymes involved in mucopolysaccharide metabolism (beta-glycuronidase, beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase, arylsulfatase) in patients with varicose veins. The basal levels of uronic acids (467.7 +/- 69.3 micrograms/ml) and of lysosomal enzymes (beta-glycuronidase 1.8 +/- 0.4 microM/min/l, beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase 23.1 +/- 0.4 microM/min/l, arysulfatase 0.078 +/- 0.003 microM/min/l) were elevated, indicating an increased mucopolysaccharide turnover in subjects with varicose veins. During treatment with Centella asiatica extract (60 mg/day for three months), these levels fell progressively. At the end of treatment the serum uronic acid (231.8 +/- 51.5 micrograms/ml), beta-glycuronidase (1.2 +/- 0.05 microM/min/l), beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase (17.7 +/- 0.7 microM/min/l) and arysulfatase (0.042 +/- 0.003 microM/min/l) levels were highly significantly lower than the basal levels (p less than 0.01). The results of this trial provide an indirect confirmation of regulatory effects of the extract of Centella asiatica on metabolism in the connective tissue of the vascular wall.
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Centella asiatica protects veins and improves chronic venous insufficiency by stimulating collagen remodeling in veins

  • Source: Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in chronic venous insufficiency and in high-perfusion microangiopathy.
  • Abstract: Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA) is effective in improving venous wall alterations in chronic venous hypertension and in protecting the venous endothelium. TTFCA is active on connective tissue modulation, improves the synthesis of collagen and other tissue proteins by modulating the action of fibroblasts in the vein wall, and stimulates collagen remodeling in and around the venous wall. This is due to the modulating action of TTFCA on fibroblasts as shown by experiments on the growth of human embryonal fibroblasts. TTFCA has a moderate in-vitro and in-vivo stimulating effect on collagen synthesis and, at higher dosages, an inhibition on the synthesis of collagen and acid mucopolysaccharides. Studies have indicated the role of TTFCA on the synthesis of specific venous wall elements by cell cultures of human embryonal fibroblasts. The tissue-stimulating action is shown by the increased collagen production independent from the stimulation of cell proliferation (this differentiates the action of TTFCA from cell growth factors). TTFCA is active on the microcirculation in venous and diabetic microangiopathy. Signs and symptoms of venous hypertension and edema are improved by treatment. The remodeling on collagen synthesis could be one of the possible mechanisms of actions of TTFCA in the remodeling of echolucent (soft; therefore, with risk of thrombosis and embolization) plaques at the carotid and femoral bifurcation. This compound is safe and well tolerated. In conclusion, several actions of TTFCA in vascular diseases makes the use of this compound very interesting in venous and arterial problems.
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Forskolin reduces fat and improves hormones in overweight men

  • Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men
  • Abstract: Objective: This study examined the effect of forskolin on body composition, testosterone, metabolic rate, and blood pressure in overweight and obese (BMI ≥ 26 kg/m2) men. Research Methods and Procedure: Thirty subjects (forskolin, n = 15; placebo, n = 15) were studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study for 12 weeks. Results: Forskolin was shown to elicit favorable changes in body composition by significantly decreasing body fat percentage (BF%) and fat mass (FM) as determined by DXA compared with the placebo group (p ≤ 0.05). Additionally, forskolin administration resulted in a change in bone mass for the 12-week trial compared with the placebo group (p ≤ 0.05). There was a trend toward a significant increase for lean body mass in the forskolin group compared with the placebo group (p = 0.097). Serum free testosterone levels were significantly increased in the forskolin group compared with the placebo group (p ≤ 0.05). The actual change in serum total testosterone concentration was not significantly different among groups, but it increased 16.77 ± 33.77% in the forskolin group compared with a decrease of 1.08 ± 18.35% in the placebo group. Discussion: Oral ingestion of forskolin (250 mg of 10% forskolin extract twice a day) for a 12-week period was shown to favorably alter body composition while concurrently increasing bone mass and serum free testosterone levels in overweight and obese men. The results indicate that forskolin is a possible therapeutic agent for the management and treatment of obesity.
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Pterostilbene reduces fat accumulation in fat tissue, even when on a high calorie diet

  • Pterostilbene, a dimethyl ether derivative of resveratrol, reduces fat accumulation in rats fed an obesogenic diet, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083823
  • The current study aimed to demonstrate the effects of pterostilbene in rats fed an obesogenic diet. For this purpose, pterostilbene was administered at doses of 15 mg/kg body weight/day (PT15 group) or 30 mg/kg body weight/day (PT30 group) for 6 weeks. Pterostilbenereduced adipose tissue mass -15.1% (PT15) and -22.9% (PT30). In this tissue, it decreased malic enzyme (-39.4 and -49.5% for PT15 and PT30 groups, respectively) and fatty acid synthase (-45 and -53.4% for PT15 and PT30) activities. Acetyl-CoA carboxylase activity was reduced and AMPK activity was increased only in the PT30 group. In the liver, pterostilbene (PT30) reduced malic enzyme (-29.5%) and glucose-6-P dehydrogenase (-43.2%) activities and increased carnitine palmitoyltransferase-1a (37.5%) and acyl-coenzyme A oxidase (42.5%) activities. This increased oxidative capacity was not associated with increased mitochondriogenesis. Among biochemical serum parameters, only insulin was modified by pterostilbene (-31.6%) in the PT15 group. The amounts of pterostilbene in serum and tissues from rats in the PT30 group were in not all cases 2-fold greater than those found in the PT15 group. In conclusion, pterostilbene shows antiobesity properties due, at least in part, to reduced lipogenesis in adipose tissue and increased fatty acid oxidation in liver. ,
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Review paper suggests centella, escin, ruscogenin, hesperidin, diosmin and pine bark extract for the treatment of varicose veins

  • Source: Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options
  • Abstract: Hemorrhoids and varicose veins are common conditions seen by general practitioners. Both conditions have several treatment modalities for the physician to choose from. Varicose veins are treated with mechanical compression stockings. There are several over-the-counter topical agents available for hemorrhoids. Conservative therapies for both conditions include diet, lifestyle changes, and hydrotherapy which require a high degree of patient compliance to be effective. When conservative hemorrhoid therapy is ineffective, many physicians may choose other non-surgical modalities: injection sclerotherapy, cryotherapy, manual dilation of the anus, infrared photocoagulation, bipolar diathermy, direct current electrocoagulation, or rubber band ligation. Injection sclerotherapy is the non-surgical treatment for primary varicose veins. Non-surgical modalities require physicians to be specially trained, own specialized equipment, and assume associated risks. If a non-surgical approach fails, the patient is often referred to a surgeon. The costly and uncomfortable nature of treatment options often lead a patient to postpone evaluation until aggressive intervention is necessary. Oral dietary supplementation is an attractive addition to the traditional treatment of hemorrhoids and varicose veins. The loss of vascular integrity is associated with the pathogenesis of both hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Several botanical extracts have been shown to improve microcirculation, capillary flow, and vascular tone, and to strengthen the connective tissue of the perivascular amorphous substrate. Oral supplementation with Aesculus hippocastanum, Ruscus aculeatus, Centella asiatica, Hamamelis virginiana, and bioflavonoids may prevent time-consuming, painful, and expensive complications of varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
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Concentrated centella asiatica extract improves leg heaviness and water retention (clinical study)

  • Source: Titrated extract of Centella asiatica (TECA) in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs.
  • Abstract: Ninety-four patients suffering from venous insufficiency of the lower limbs participated in a multicenter, double-blind versus placebo study. After randomization, they were allotted for a treatment period of two months to one of three groups: TECA 120 mg/day, TECA 60 mg/day, or placebo. A significant difference (p less than 0.05) in favor of TECA was shown for the symptoms of heaviness in the lower limbs and edema, as well as for the overall evaluation by the patient. The venous distensibility measured by a mercury strain gauge plethysmograph at three occlusion pressures was improved for the TECA groups but aggravated for the placebo group.
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Protein, skin looseness and cellulite

WHY IS PROTEIN SO IMPORTANT FOR MY LOOKS?

Literally every body tissue that gives you shape and makes you look firm and young is made of protein. Your skin, muscles, fascia, ligaments and even part of your bones are made of proteins, such as collagen and elastin, among others. Collagen provides firmness, whilst elastin provides elasticity. A high protein level in those tissues can only make you toned and fit, whilst on the other hand, excessive fat and water gives you that loose, flabby, "cellulite-y" look (lack of firmness is one of the main facets of cellulite).

These skin, muscle, bone and connective tissue proteins (let's collectively call them "beauty proteins") degrade with time and need to be broken down and replaced with newly synthesised proteins by cells such as myocytes (muscle cells), fibroblasts (connective tissue cells, including skin cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells).

Beauty proteins can be degraded due to a variety of reasons. Some factors are listed below:

  • Simple wear and tear (ageing)
  • High sugar/excessive carbohydrate intake (sugar is lethal for body proteins as it degrades them via a process called glycation)
  • Immune cell action (as when you suffer from chronic, low grade inflammation, for example)
  • Fat cell action. Fat cells do break down the collagen structures around them in order to grow and accommodate more fat. This is a major cause of cellulite and the flabbiness that is associated with it.

To replace the "beauty proteins" with newly synthesised ones and maintain your skin firmness, your cells need aminoacids and peptides that can only be derived from dietary protein. This means eating fish, chicken, lean red meat (including lean beef, lean pork, lean lamb and game), eggs, low fat cheese (such as cottage and ricotta cheese), low fat milk and pulses (beans, lentils, peas, fermented soya products etc.).

Contrary to popular belief, foods like quinoa (loads of carbs and little protein) and nuts (loads of fat and little protein) are not protein-rich foods.

 

BUT ISN'T TOO MUCH PROTEIN, ESPECIALLY MEAT, BAD FOR YOU?

Most women today don't realise how important protein is for their physical appearance and overall health, and unwittingly or purposely follow a low protein diet, with disastrous consequences. Excessive consumption of fatty red meat may be bad for you, but having no meat and animal food at all can be equally bad. With this negative attitude towards red meat among the female population it is no wonder that most women today are chronically borderline or actually anaemic. Not to mention cellulite and loose skin, of course...

I am amazed of how little protein my female friends have. Quite often the amount of protein consumed is negligible, so it is no wonder why cellulite and loose skin is such a big issue today. The truth is that protein has been given plenty of bad press in the last couple of decades. Many nutritionists and naturopaths advise that you don't need a lot of protein because an excess "will tire your liver and kidneys". As a result most women avoid protein altogether, in favour of carbohydrates that "give you energy".

What women don't realise though, is that unless you burn those carbs with exercise and general physical activity, they will inevitably become "stored energy" i.e. fat, and they will add inches to their thighs and millimetres to the height of their cellulite "bumps". Hence the popular adage about sweets and carbs: "once in the lips forever in the hips".

This negative consequence is in addition to the effect of sugar on skin protein degradation due to glycation, mentioned above. Not to mention the negative effect fat cell expansion has on skin firmness, again mentioned above. So to conclude, things are very simple: lack of protein makes your skin loose, especially when combined with an excess of carbs and/or fat. Period.

And the other fact is that most women will not come anywhere close to tiring their kidneys and liver due to eating fish, chicken or low-fat red meat. It is just very difficult for most women to eat enough protein to exhaust their kidneys and liver. And the extra iron contained in the meat will be greatly appreciated by their bodies.

 

HOW ABOUT SATURATED FAT CONTAINED IN PROTEIN FOOD THEN?

Indeed there is only one problem with red meat: saturated fat. Without saturated fat red meat is absolutely fine, especially if the meat is organic. However, the fact is that there are cuts of beef, lamb and pork that contain negligible amounts of saturated fat, i.e. as little as 2-4% fat. All you have to do is choose lean (red) cuts of meat when you do your shopping and look at the fat content displayed on the label - anything below 5% is absolutely fine. And if you do not like red meat, there are always poultry, fish, seafood and eggs to help you boost your protein intake levels without the problem of saturated fat.

 

WHAT IF I AM A VEGETARIAN?

This is not to say that eating a vegetarian diet will not necessarily provide you with enough protein. The only problem with vegetarian diets is that it is so much more difficult to achieve your daily protein quota, unless you eat a loooot of pulses, eggs, milk and low fat cheese without getting allergic to dairy and fed up of pulses. Unfortunately a depending on tofu and nuts will simply not cut it...

{Just to mention here that unfermented soya (as in as soya milk, tofu and soya textured protein) is not the healthy food it is purported to be, partly due to it's negative effect on thyroid function and partly due to it's high phytate content, which block absorption of many nutrients in the stomach. In contrast, fermented soya, as in miso, tempeh, soya sauce and natto are indeed very good for a woman's health.}

The best advice I have to give to vegetarians, and especially vegans, is supplement your diet with a combination of rice, pea or other vegan protein (vegetarians can also have whey and egg protein).

 

WHICH IS THE MOST FILLING FOOD COMPONENT: PROTEIN, CARBOHYDRATE OR FAT?

Well, actually none of the above. Fibre is the most satisfying food, and the best source of fibre is not cardboard-tasting wheat bran, but nutritious and juicy vegetables!

Protein is second-best as it introduces a feeling of satiety and helps you keep off the naughty fatty, sugary, carb-y foods that end up being deposited on your bum.

Carbohydrates, comprising sugars and starches, are definitely the least filling foods. Sugary foods, in particular, are the most addictive foods and lead to constant cravings and overeating. The same applies to starches, but to a lesser extent. The low glycaemic index (GI) carbs (pasta, brown rice, fruits) do not induce cravings as potently, whilst the high GI carbohydrates are the worst in that respect (all types of bread, white rice, pastry etc.).

Fats and oils can also be filling but are also very calorific, so they are not a solution to the hunger problem as they fill your stomach up but at the same time they fill your bum with fat too...

In fact, the best way to keep hunger and cravings at bay is combining vegetables (which are rich in fibre, antioxidants and water and poor in calories) with lean protein, e.g. salmon and loads of broccoli, lean steak with a large salad, prawns with lots of stir-fried vegetables, grilled chicken with mushrooms, peppers and courgettes etc. You get the drift...

 

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED?

As a rule of a thumb, most women need about 40-60g of pure protein per day. This is equivalent to 4-5 eggs, a medium lean beef steak (~200g), a large salmon steak (200-300g), 500-600g of boiled lentils or boiled beans (that's a looot of beans and lentils, as mentioned above), or a combination of those or similar foods during any one day.

 

WHAT IF I FAST/CRASH DIET?

When you fast or crash diet you deny your body of proteins so you don't just lose so much fat, you lose mainly protein and water. This is because your body utilises the "beauty proteins" in order to provide your vital organs with essential proteins for survival and to synthesise enzymes for basic bodily functions and digestion.

When you go back onto the "pigging out" phase after the crash diet, all the weight you put back on is fat, thereby gradually replacing firmness with fat with each crash diet/pig out cycle. This will inevitably happen every time you follow a crash diet, unless you do four things:

  • Resistance exercise (weights) during the "re-feeding" phase to regain the lost muscle
  • Power plate or high impact sports to regain the lost bone mass
  • Have vigorous anti-cellulite/skin firming treatments to stimulate the rebuilding of the lost skin proteins
  • Have plenty of protein during and after your diet

As you can see it's cheap and easy to lose your skin firmness and expensive and difficult to regain it, so the advice is simple: avoid regular crash dieting.

By the way, yoga, pilates, lymphatic massages and other lightweight approaches won't help you replace the lost protein on your muscles, bones or skin, as they offer minimal protein synthesis stimulation. Firming/anti-cellulite creams and a high intake of antioxidants and flavanols, typically found in vegetables, berry fruits, herbs and cocoa, can also aid in protein synthesis. Activities such as running and swimming also help.

 

THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS...

...that if you want to look firm and keep cellulite at bay you'd better exercise vigorously and regularly, avoid crash dieting, eat enough protein, vegetables, berries, herbs and spices and avoid sugar, excessive carbs, saturated fat, trans fats and anything fried. In addition, regularly having anti-cellulite treatments and applying a good cellulite cream will also help fill the gaps in your lifestyle and keep your skin toned and smooth.

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Patient satisfaction with hesperidin, ascorbic acid and ruscogenin for the treatment of chronic venous disease (clinical study)

  • In a study comparing patient satisfaction of different therapies of advanced stage chronic venous disease it was found that of the 780 patients studied, and after six weeks of treatment, 71.3% were satisfied after surgical intervention; 51.4% with a natural vasoactive drug (supplement) consisting of ruscus aculeatus (butcher's broom), HMC (hesperidin) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C); and 43% with compression therapy (pressotherapy / bandaging).
  • In the drug/supplement group,  "out of 377 patients with active venous ulcers smaller than 200 cm2, 18% have been cured, and 66.6% have improved during 6-week period of observation!
  • The researchers concluded that effects exerted on veins, capillaries and lymphatic vessels by the vasoactive supplement/drug explain the positive results observed in this study.
  • All three components of the drug, i.e. ruscus, ascorbic acid and hesperidin are well researched and widely established for their natural and safe vein / circulation / lymphatic drainage supporting action, and they are valuable ingredients, taken either orally (supplements) or locally (creams) in the fight against venous insufficiency, water retention, poor circulation and cellulite.
  • Given that new, more advanced vasoactive supplements exist today, if those newer, more advanced products were used, most probably an even higher number of customer satisfaction would have been recorded.
  • Source: Patients' satisfaction with therapy methods of advanced chronic venous disease.
  • Abstract AIM: To assess patients' satisfaction from the therapy of advanced chronic venous disorders (CVD) in everyday clinical practice in Poland, and to compare the efficacy of various venoactive drugs (VADs) in venous ulcers healing process. METHODS: 780 unselected adult patients with active (N=441) or healed (N=339) venous ulcers participated in the non-interventional observational 6-week study. RESULTS: Compression therapy and VADs were utilized by 81.5% and 89.2% of patients respectively. 31.2% of all patients underwent surgical procedures for vein incompetence, 61.3% were satisfied with surgical methods, 43% with compression therapy, and 32.6% with VADs - with highest rate of satisfied patients in the group taking Ruscus aculeatus and HMC and ascorbic acid (51.4%). Of 377 patients with active venous ulcers smaller than 200 cm2, adherent to VADs, 18.0% have been cured, and 66.6% have improved during 6-week period of observation. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that the compression therapy [OR=2.74], the size of ulcer ≤ 10 cm2 [OR=2.70] were increasing the change of ulcer healing. No VADs was better than another in the healing process. CONCLUSIONS: 1) Compression therapy and VADs are highly utilized by patients with advanced CVD. 2) Patients are more satisfied with surgical than conservative treatment of advanced CVD. 3) More than half of the patients with the advanced stage CVD taking Ruscus aculeatus and HMC and ascorbic acid is satisfied with the obtained improvement. 4) Ruscus aculeatus and HMC and ascorbic acid is similarly effective as other frequently used VADs in venous ulcer healing. 5. Ruscus aculeatus and HMC and ascorbic acid exerting effects on veins, capillaries and lymphatic vessels may explain the positive results observed in this study.
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Why do you place so much emphasis on cellulite creams? Are cellulite creams really that important?

  • Yes, they are extremely important!
  • Fibrosis, glycation, inflammation and oxidative damage are all parts of cellulite, for which even the best, most powerful cellulite treatments cannot do that much.
  • A good anti-cellulite cream, highly concentrated with multiple actives that act on all those four factors can provide valuable help, which is almost impossible to get with treatments
  • Furthermore, a good anti-cellulite cream, highly concentrated with multiple actives that are well researched for their lipolytic, circulation boosting and skin firming action can synergistically assist any treatment, an addition to working well on their own too
  • And, yes, a good cellulite cream DOES get absorbed, if properly formulated. Creams do get absorbed and in fact there are strict guidelines set by EU regulators about the maximum amounts that can be absorbed into the body by a cream.
  • (The notion that creams do not get absorbed is based on either ineffective absorption systems in many cheap / badly formulated commercial creams, or in the usual ignorance about beauty shown by many beauty therapists and beauty journalists alike)
  • However, you may have noticed that I repeated the phrase "a good anti-cellulite cream, highly concentrated with multiple actives" twice above. This is because, for cost-cutting reasons, most cellulite creams simply are not concentrated enough and do not contain actives against all seven facets of cellulite mentioned above.
  • A proper cellulite cream is expensive due to the high amounts of multiple expensive active ingredients needed for it to be effective, in the same way a good cellulite treatment is expensive due to the expensive technology used (cheap treatments performed with low-spec machines do not help much with cellulite)
  • Unfortunately, the cheap creams, and quite a few expensive ones, which only contain one or two (or even zero!) anti-cellulite active ingredients in low concentrations will not work (hence the public's correct notion that most "cellulite creams do not work").
  • In summary, a cellulite cream is indispensable, as it can complement / replace treatments, but only if it is comprehensive and highly concentrated, and if it is used long enough
  • Three months of continuous use is ideal for bst results, which is also the same time it takes to finish a proper course of 6-12 cellulite treatments
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How ivy, horse chestnut and butcher's broom protect blood vessels, elastin and hyaluronic acid

  • Extracts from the plants ivy (hedera helix), horse chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum) and butcher's broom (ruscus aculeatus) are all well known for their vein protecting and circulation enhancing action, which in turn make them valuable actives for the treatment of venous insufficiency, and also cellulite.
  • In this study scientists examined how effective these three herbs and their active chemicals  were in fighting the breakdown of elastin and hyaluronic acid, both very important components of the basic substance that surrounds and protects blood vessels.
  • The study has shown that:
  • Ruscogenin from butcher's broom was very effective in preventing the breakdown of elastin but ineffective in protecting hyaluronic acid
  • Escin from horse chestnut was effective only in protecting hyaluronic acid
  • Oleanolic acid and hederagenin from ivy are effective in preventing the breakdown of elastin as well as hyaluronic acid
  • Of course, hyaluronidase and elastase inhibition are only two of the many different ways in which those three well researched and widely used plants help protect blood vessels and boost circulation / lymphatic drainage.
  • In summary, these results show for one more time the potential for escin, ruscogenin, oleanolic acid and hederagenin in protecting connective tissue, blood vessels and circulation, and consequently helping reduce cellulite.
  • Source: Anti-elastase and anti-hyaluronidase activities of saponins and sapogenins from Hedera helix, Aesculus hippocastanum, and Ruscus aculeatus: factors contributing to their efficacy in the treatment of venous insufficiency.
  • Abstract: Triterpene and steroid saponins and sapogenins of medicinal plants (Aesculus hippocastanum L., Hedera helix L., Ruscus aculeatus L.) are claimed to be effective for the treatment/prevention of venous insufficiency. In this work we evaluated the inhibitory effects of these plant constituents on the activity of elastase and hyaluronidase, the enzyme systems involved in the turnover of the main components of the perivascular amorphous substance. The results evidence that for Hedera helix L., the sapogenins only non-competitively inhibit hyaluronidase activity in a dose-dependent fashion, showing comparable IC50 values (hederagenin IC50 = 280.4 microM; oleanolic acid IC50 = 300.2 microM); both the saponins hederacoside C and alpha-hederin are very weak inhibitors. The same behaviour is observed for serine protease porcine pancreatic elastase: the glycosides are devoid of inhibitory action, while genins are potent competitive inhibitors (oleanolic acid IC50 = 5.1 microM; hederagenin IC50 = 40.6 microM). Constituents from Aesculus hippocastanum L. show inhibitory effects only on hyaluronidase, and this activity is mainly linked to the saponin escin (IC50 = 149.9 microM), less to its genin escinol (IC50 = 1.65 mM). By contrast, ruscogenins from Ruscus aculeatus L., ineffective on hyaluronidase activity, exhibit remarkable anti-elastase activity (IC50 = 119.9 microM; competitive inhibition). The mechanism of elastase inhibition by triterpene and steroid aglycones, with a nitroanilide derivative as substrate, is discussed.
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Forskolin stimulates fat release as potently as adrenergic stimulation, with the combination of both producing maximum results

  • Forskolin is a natural chemical which is used as supplement and cellulite cream ingredient for it's lipolytic (fat releasing) action on fat cells.
  • In this study forskolin was found to stimulate lipolysis as well as an adrenaline / noradrenaline analog, but it stimulates the production of 10 times more cAMP in the cell (cAMP stimulates energy production / fat burning in fat cells and vasodilation in blood vessels).
  • Adrenaline and noradrenaline are produced during exercise and are the most potent fat release chemicals in the body, so forskolin has a similar effect on fat cells as exercise.
  • On the other hand, in the same study it was shown that forskolin's fat release effect was potentiated by:
    • the adrenaline / noradrenaline analog (so we should practically expect that forskolin + exercise would have even stronger lipolytic effect than either exercise or forskolin alone)
    • an adenosine inhibitor (so we should practically expect that forskolin + caffeine would have even stronger lipolytic effect than either caffeine or forskolin alone)
  • In practice, the results of this and other similar studies show that forskolin works better when combined with caffeine (an adenosine inhibitor), and these two ingredients should be together in anti-cellulite creams and for spot fat reduction treatments / creams.
  • Furthermore, exercise (an adrenaline / noradrenaline stimulator) could potentially maximise the effect of forskolin, or forskolin combined with caffeine.
  • Source: Stimulation of cAMP accumulation and lipolysis in hamster adipocytes with forskolin.
  • Abstract: This study compares the effects of forskolin and isoproterenol on lipolysis and adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) accumulation in hamster white adipocytes. Rates of lipolysis in forskolin-stimulated cells were equivalent to those in cells incubated with isoproterenol, but cAMP levels were more than 10-fold greater in the presence of forskolin. The stimulatory effects of forskolin were partially inhibited by N6-phenylisopropyl adenosine but not by 2',5'-dideoxyadenosine. In other experiments, cells were exposed to forskolin in combination with either isoproterenol or adenosine deaminase. A concentration of forskolin that caused only a small increase in lipolysis was used. When isoproterenol or adenosine deaminase were added with forskolin, lipolysis increased dramatically, but cAMP content either did not change, as occurred with isoproterenol, or increased only slightly with adenosine deaminase. Isoproterenol potentiation of forskolin's lipolytic action persisted in the absence of extracellular K+, even though the lipolytic response to isoproterenol alone was absent in K+-free media. These data demonstrate that the lipolytic responses of adipose tissue are more complex than are responses simply in proportion to cellular concentration of cAMP. Such complexity could arise if lipolytic regulatory factors other than cAMP existed or if cAMP and protein kinase were functionally segregated within adipocytes.
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How centella asiatica helps treat oedema and venous hypertension

  • Centella asiatica is well-known as a vein protecting herb. An extract that contains all important active chemicals found in the plant (TTFCA, or Total triterpenic fraction of centella asiatica) has been specifically investigated in this study for it's effect on water retention and symptoms of venus hypertension (swelling sensation, restless lower extremity, pain, cramps and tiredness).
  • Patients treated for only 4 weeks with 180mg of TTFCA per day experienced significant reduction in water retention as measured by ankle circumference, ankle oedema and capillary filtration rate and in venous hypertension and it's symptoms.
  • Patients treated with 90mg/day showed more modest results, while the placebo group and a group of healthy volunteers with no water retention / oedema, showed no changes. 
  • This is yet another study to prove the beneficial effects of concentrated centella asiatica extract, this time on vein health and function, and water retention / circulation enhancement. 
  • Taken either orally (as a supplement) or locally (as an anti-cellulite cream active ingredient) centella asiatica extracts rich in asiatic acid, madecassic acid, madecassoside and asiaticoside (TTFCA) are helpful in the prevention, control or reduction of poor circulation and help preserve vein health.
  • Source: Treatment of edema and increased capillary filtration in venous hypertension with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a clinical, prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized, dose-ranging trial.
  • Abstract: The variation of capillary filtration rate (CFR), ankle circumference (AC), and ankle edema (AE) was evaluated in three groups of patients with venous hypertension (ambulatory venous pressure >42 mm Hg) and in a group of normal subjects before and after treatment for 4 weeks with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA), a venoactive drug acting on the microcirculation and on capillary permeability. Group A (20 patients) was treated with TTFCA 60 mg thrice daily, group B (20 patients) was treated with 30 mg thrice daily; group C (12 patients) was treated with placebo; and group D (10 normal subjects) was treated with TTFCA 60 mg thrice daily in a randomized study. Capillary filtration rate was assessed by venous occlusion plethysmography, ankle edema by a new system called AET (ankle edema tester). Subjective symptoms of venous hypertension were assessed by an analogue scale line considering four symptoms: swelling sensation, restless lower extremity, pain and cramps, and tiredness. CFR, AC, and AE were significantly higher in patients in comparison with normal subjects. After 4 weeks of TTFCA treatment, there was a significant decrease of CFR, AC, and AET time in patients. This was also greater in the higher dose group. No significant change was observed in the placebo group and in normal subjects treated with TTFCA. Symptoms were also significantly improved in the two groups treated with the active drug according to the dose. No significant changes were observed in the placebo group. In conclusion, the improvement of signs and symptoms by TTFCA observed in patients with venous hypertension was well correlated with the improvement of CFR and ankle edema. Dose ranging showed that 180 mg/day is more effective in improving symptoms and CFR.
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Centella asiatica, venous insufficiency, stretch marks and wound healing

  • Centella asiatica is a medicinal plant that has been in use since prehistoric times and is used in folk medicine to treat a wide range of indications
  • It's active ingredients include asiatic acid, madecassic acid, madecassoside and asiaticoside, collectively known as centella asiatica triterpenes).
  • In contrast to other medicinal plants, however, centella asiatica and it's triterpenes have been subjected to quite extensive experimental and clinical investigations. Studies done in accordance with standardised scientific criteria have shown it to have a positive effect in the treatment of venous insufficiency and stretch marks (striae) and wound healing.
  • Due to it's multiple action on circulation, stretch marks and wound healing, centella is one of the most important anti-ageing and anti-cellulite cream active ingredients.
  • Source: Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica.
  • Abstract: Centella asiatica is a medicinal plant that has been in use since prehistoric times. Its active constituents include pentacyclic triterpene derivatives. Studies have been conducted in particular to investigate the madecassosides and asiaticosides. In common with most traditional phytotherapeutic agents, Centella asiatica is used in folk medicine to treat a wide range of indications. In contrast to other medicinal plants, however, Centella asiatica has been subjected to quite extensive experimental and clinical investigations. Studies done in accordance with standardized scientific criteria have shown it to have a positive effect in the treatment of venous insufficiency and striae gravidarum. Centella asiatica also appears to be effective in the treatment of wound healing disturbances. At the present time, clinical studies aimed at investigating the sedative, analgesic, antidepressive, antimicrobial, antiviral and immunomodulatory effects that have been demonstrated experimentally, are still lacking. However, the therapeutic potential of this plant in terms of its efficacy and versatility is such that further detailed research would appear worthwhile.
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