Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
If someone told you that you could kiss your cellulite goodbye simply by taking a pill, what would you say? Most of us wouldn’t say anything. Instead we would stampede over the well-meaning individual to get our hands on those pills.
In fact, that’s almost what happened the first time an anti-cellulite pill hit the market back in 1999. Many women reported good results, while many others were disappointed. The company selling that first brand of pill ended up in litigation with the Federal Trade Commission and spent much time and money trying to keep the product on the shelves.
Fast-forward to the present and here we are, nearly 20 years later with more anti-cellulite pills claiming to have cellulite salvation in a bottle. There are creams and lotions already claiming to reduce cellulite, so the pills don’t seem to be too far-fetched. But what do they claim to do?
First, let’s talk about cellulite. Most of us would rather admit to a gambling addiction than have someone see our cellulite, the fatty, cottage cheese like substance found under the skin of millions of stomachs, hips and thighs. The cause of cellulite is still somewhat unknown, but it is influenced by hormones, genetics, diet and lifestyle.
Age, gender (cellulite is rarely seen in men) and the amount of fat on your body can also play a part in cellulite production. It is most commonly agreed that we have cellulite in conjunction with excess fat and if you lower your caloric intake and increase you physical activity, you’ll have a better chance of removing cellulite from your body.
For those more interested in a quick fix, the cellulite pill may be your answer to smoother, firmer skin. Many pills advertised as cellulite fixes are made up of grape seed extract, ginkgo biloba fatty acids and yellow sweet clover, and are to be taken daily. Many researchers and several studies actually report that the pill has merit. In one study, 345 adults were given the cellulite busting pill for 8 to 12 weeks. The adults who took the actual pill showed about a 45 percent reduction in cellulite within 47 days while those taking the placebo showed no visible reduction.
There are, as always, possible side effects such as cough, headache and nausea caused by grape seed oil; ginkgo biloba has been known to cause some mild stomach complaints, headaches and allergic skin reactions. Some have also experienced an increased bleeding risk while taking it.
Yellow Sweet Clover has been known to cause headaches. When taking on a long term basis some people have also reported liver damage. Ingredients found in other pills showed high amounts of iodine and included supplements like lecithin, evening primrose oil and fish oil, none of which cause the body to get rid of fat. Dermatologists also fear the long term results of the cellulite pill on the skin. If the pill changes the structure of the skin, will it maintain that structure in years to come?
Companies taking a different approach have found themselves in an ongoing battle with the FTC over claims that their cellulite pill “eliminates cellulite at the source” by increasing blood flow to problem areas. Their method of treatment is to correct circulation problems so the body can draw on trapped fat to increase your metabolic rate and burn fat faster. None of these claims have been substantiated. The verdict is still out on the pill that would put us all back into miniskirts and hot pants.