Q and A: Cellulite, Putuitary Glands and Stomach Ulcers

Studies show that gotu kola can reduce cellulite

| July/August 1999

In every issue of Herbs for Health, professionals from a ­variety of health-care fields answer your ­questions about using medicinal herbs. Medical doctor Robert Rountree and herbalist Daniel Gagnon respond for this issue.


Are there any herbal remedies for cellulite?
E. P.
De Queen, Arkansas

Despite the fact that cellulite commonly affects millions of women worldwide, you won’t find much about the topic in American medical textbooks, perhaps because it’s considered to be a cosmetic disorder and not a true disease.

First described by French doctors, cellulite is a disruption in the layer of fat cells just underneath the skin. These cells are normally held together in neat chambers of connective tissue, but when they become excessively large, they stretch the chambers out. This creates a dimple effect, which is often referred to as the “mattress phenomenon.”

The best overall solution is to decrease total body fat by losing weight if you need to. Although some herbalists utilize “thermogenic” herbs such as ma huang (Ephedra sinica, or Chinese ephedra) to force an increase in fat burning, there can be significant side effects from this approach, including increased blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. Several years back, announcements were made in the press that a topical preparation of theophylline (a chemical extracted from coffee) could dramatically reduce cellulite; the excitement has since died down, presumably due to its lack of effectiveness.

In contrast, gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has been shown in several published ­studies to be quite effective for reducing cellulite by strengthening defective connective ­tissue. I recommend taking up to 120 mg daily of an extract standardized to contain 40 ­percent asiaticoside. For additional benefits, try adding 150 mg daily of proanthocyanidin (PCO) extracted from grapeseed or pine bark. PCOs are a class of bioflavonoids extracted from a variety of plants, including pine bark, lemon tree bark, grape seeds, grape skins, and cranberries.

—Robert Rountree

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