Dr John Briffa: Smooth operator

In my practice I see significant numbers of women who find that the presence of cellulite on their buttocks and thighs really gets under their skin. Many are keen to do what they can to rid themselves of the puckered dermal distortion that is characteristic of the condition. Ever on the lookout for novel, natural approaches to health issues, my eye was recently caught by an article heralding the arrival of anti-cellulite jeans. The jeans are impregnated with a form of vitamin A (retinol) which is said to reduce cellulite by promoting healthier structure in the skin. I'm all for innovation, but even I have to admit the idea that a cure for cellulite may be found in a pair of jeans is stretching it a bit.

Those looking for a leg-up in the smoothing of cellulite may be interested to learn of other natural approaches. One common feature in cellulite is fluid build-up (oedema), which in natural medicine is taken as a reaction to excess 'toxicity' in the system. Those with cellulite are often recommended to reduce their toxic load, primarily by eating as natural and unprocessed a diet as possible. Easy-to-assimilate foods such as fruit and vegetables, washed down with plenty of water, are the cornerstone of diets designed to help the body clear itself of internal effluent.

The fact that cellulite occurs almost exclusively in women and does not blight pre-pubertal thighs points to the hormone oestrogen as a likely provoking factor. Many natural practitioners recognise an excess of oestrogen (or 'oestrogen dominance')as a condition, manifestations of which include irritability, fluid retention and breast tenderness before a period. In practice, the herb Agnus castus seems to smooth this hormonal imbalance, and may help to smooth the appearance of the skin, too.

There is some evidence that the fluid accumulation characteristic of cellulite is related to 'leakiness' in the small blood vessels under the skin. Herbal preparations of Horse chestnut may help, because a substance in this plant (aescin) appears to reduce leakage from the body's vessels. Another factor that appears to underlie cellulite is reduced flow of blood and lymph fluid (essentially, the body's sewage) in the affected area. Taking a preparation of Ginkgo biloba may help to stimulate the circulation.

Another approach to getting blood and lymph flowing is vigorous brushing of the skin of the legs. Brushing in an upwardly direction encourages the draining of lymph and excess fluid, and helps to stimulate the circulation. Brushes made for this purpose are available in health-food stores. This, in addition to other natural approaches, can work wonders to transform the orange-peel appearance of cellulite into peachy skin.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.