Alternatively Speaking: Combating cellulite

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Are there any exercises to help get rid of cellulite?

Herbal remedies 370 (photo credit:  REUTERS/Simon Newman)
Herbal remedies 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Simon Newman)
Q. Dear Natalie, are there any herbs that are good at reducing cellulite? I am so desperate and feeling very self-conscious, thank you for your help.
A. Cellulite is a common skin problem that affects almost 90 percent of women over the age of 18. One of the most effective way to get rid of it is to follow a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. However, taking specific herbs can assist in flushing the dreaded "cottage cheese’’ appearance.
The most popular kind of seaweed used for medicinal purposes is kelp, also used in Japanese cuisine. Kelp is rich in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid gland helping with metabolism and therefore aids in reducing the fatty deposits that make up cellulite. Instead of using kelp supplements on an on-going basis try including more kelp into your diet.
Rosemary is another wonderful herb that aids in the reduction of cellulite by improving circulation. Rosemary is available in essential oil form and it is recommended to mix it with a base oil, such as sweet almond oil. Apply it directly to the skin to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
One method to get rid of cellulite is to flush toxins out of the body. The Dandelion herb (Taraxacumofficinale) helps flush waste products out of the liver, allowing it to work much more efficiently when getting rid of toxins. Dandelion also contains potassium in high levels, which helps prevent fluid retention. Dandelion can be drunk as a herbal tea (dried dandelion leaves 1 to 2 tsp three times a day). Try taking dandelion in extract form where the recommended dose is 250mg three to four times daily.
Gotukola is a very effective herb used for flushing cellulite. It improves the circulation of blood and enhances the structure of connective tissue, allows new collagen formation and keeps the skin tight and firm. Gotu kola comes in the form of dry leaves, extracts, lotions, teas and capsules. The recommended dosage is 20 to 60mg three times daily per extract. Use Gotukola for a maximum of six weeks or less, with at least two- to three-week breaks in between usage.
Try adding between 2-4g of the herb parsley to your diet. Firstly, it works as a detoxifying agent and diuretic, flushing excess water along with toxins from the body. It also helps reduce blood glucose levels,therefore assisting with weight loss. Finally, like gotu kola, parsley enhances circulation. You can also add parsley to herbal teas and soups.Q. Dear Natalie, can you suggest any exercises which can help fight cellulite? Since you are a yoga teacher – are there any specific yoga postures which can help?
A. Cellulite is most commonly found in the thighs, abdomen and hip areas. Although it is possible to reduce the appearance of cellulite by exercising regularly and eating a healthful diet, it may not completely disappear. Cardiovascular workouts will enable you to lose weight, while a strength training program will aid in building muscle and toning the areas of your body prone to cellulite. Since cellulite is caused by fat deposits, the first step is to begin with aerobic exercises such as running, cycling and swimming at least two-three times a week.
Many fitness instructors may recommend squats as an excellent workout because they target the lower body, primarily the quadriceps, buttocks and abdominal muscles helping to build lean muscle. Despite popular belief, our muscles are metabolically active and burn more fat than any other type of tissue. Therefore by performing squats, we will tone our body and build lean muscles which also results in more calories being burned.
Yoga is also a form of resistance exercise that increases muscle mass and improves muscle tone. I recommend focusing on postures and poses where you are placing your body in positions requiring muscular contractions against the resistance of your body weight or gravity. Try lunging poses in a standing position which strengthen your buttocks and thigh muscles. Twisting poses stimulate internal organs, aiding in digestion and the removal of toxins. Inverted poses help to improve fluid drainage and also strengthen the circulatory system. Since yoga places emphasis on enhanced breathing this improves the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to our bodies making it an excellent aid in the fight against cellulite.Q. Dear Natalie, please can you clarify since I have heard conflicting reviews regarding coffee and cellulite. Is coffee bad for cellulite sufferers or can it combat cellulite?
If you are battling cellulite then you may decide to reduce your coffee intake since it may be one cause of your dimpled skin. Dehydration causes our bodies to hold on to any amount of water, causing fat cells to swell making your cellulite more pronounced. As you drink coffee, you slowly dehydrate your body and tell your fat cells to retain liquids. The fat cells become swollen, push against the skin and create valleys known as cellulite. If you can't give up caffeine, try drinking more water in between cups of coffee to help rehydrate your body.
Your confusion may have arisen because using coffee as a topical application can indeed work wonders for reducing cellulite. The caffeine in the coffee will help with the blood flow to the area, diminishing the built-up cellulite. You can make your own topical blend by mixing warm, fresh coffee grounds with a small amount of olive oil or almond oil. I suggest you add a few drops each of juniper, cypress and rosemary essential oils into your base oil since these oils help to reduce fluid retention. Use this mix when in the bath or shower, vigorously massaging the grounds into the skin of your hips, thighs and buttocks. This kind of vigorous massage has been proved to improve the appearance of cellulite. After massaging the grounds into your skin, do not rinse off, continue by wrapping the areas firmly, but not too tightly, with plastic wrap and leave in place for a few minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and shower to remove oil and coffee ground residue.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. To make an appointment please email
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at