Specifically, supplements assist the body in correcting the deficiencies and imbalances that lead to health problems, whereas, drugs override the body's systems and force the body's biochemistry in a particular direction. In other words, a good nutritional supplement program creates an optimal environment for the body to heal itself.
A good example of how this works is nutritional supplementation designed to complement body treatments and therapies. Take cellulite for example.
External cellulite treatments are designed to break up the hard fats that accumulate under the skin and result in distortions of the skin's natural uniformity and texture. Much of the reason for this distortion is that the adipocytes (fat cells) in areas with cellulite have become enlarged. The increased size, or hypertrophy, means that the area between adipocytes becomes congested, which impedes circulation and fluid exchange. In essence, the cells are strangulating themselves. The result is damaged metabolic function, meaning that cells cannot eliminate waste or receive nutrients properly. Further, adipocyte hypertrophy also impedes these same functions in the layer of skin above the fat layer. The body responds at first by increasing fluid to the area, which only results in edema, and then, by isolating these adipocytes further, causes them to harden. This leads to a vicious cycle of adipocytes becoming increasingly isolated and at the same time more resistant to change.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, for the body to shrink these adipocytes and restore circulation unassisted. Cellulite affected adipocytes are resistant to simple weight loss because metabolic exchange is so poor. The body can utilize stored fats from non-affected areas much more easily. Nor is it possible to eliminate the problem through external treatments in the long term, since the underlying metabolic and chemical factors, which lead to cellulite formation, likely still, exist. The goal is not simply to eliminate the cellulite, but also, to create an environment within the body, where cellulite is unlikely to reoccur. There are three important steps in assisting the body to restore and renew healthy adipocytes and create an environment, where the problem is less likely to reoccur. These steps are remove, repair and rebuild.
This is the obvious part. Usually, some form of mechanical manipulation is necessary to break up hardened adipocytes and create space for fluid exchange. This can be achieved through aggressive massage or other body work, as well as, through the application of direct energy such as heat and light therapy, and also through thermogenesis or increased metabolism. In the process, lipids, toxins and other cellular byproducts are released in huge quantities. These too must be removed.
Nutritional supplements are an essential part of the primary removal process in two ways: first the proper nutrients can help improve metabolic function, which accelerates change in adipocytes; and second they can improve circulation, lymph drainage, and fluid exchange for faster elimination of waste. Green Tea Extract is a key nutrient for removal.
Green tea extract helps promote thermogenesis. It contains a nutrient called epigallocatechingallate or EGCG that stimulates fat burning. Green tea is also an excellent antioxidant and specifically protects red blood cells from free radical damage.[i]
Iodine is another good nutrient for metabolic support. Iodine is necessary for the body to regulate thermogenesis through the synthesis of thyroid related hormones.
Of course, in order to increase metabolism specifically in the affected tissues, as well as, generally throughout the body, there must be access to those tissues. Capsicum frutescens, a variety of cayenne, increases circulation and can help maintain good access. Capsicum may have the added benefit of stimulating energy production, while at the same time, helping to suppress cravings for carbohydrates. A recent study suggested that capsicum may do this by increasing sympathetic nervous system activity[ii] or in other words, increasing energy levels.
In the process of increasing metabolism, not to mention removing fats and congested tissues, toxins are liberated in great quantities. Free radicals and oxidative damage are also created in much greater quantities than normal. This means that detoxification and liver support are essential adjuncts to the removal step of cellulite treatment.
Good nutrients for detox include milk thistle extract. Milk thistle extract is arguably the best liver protection nutrient available. The best Milk thistle extract contains 80 percent silymarin, which has been shown to help promote liver regeneration and increase the liver's natural production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.[iii]
N-acetyl l-cysteine (or NAC) is also an excellent antioxidant for the body, in general, and the liver, in particular. In addition, the body can make glutathione directly from NAC. NAC is so effective at protecting liver tissues that it is the recommended treatment for acetaminophen poisoning of the liver.[iv]
Trimethylglycine (or TMG) can also be useful in detox. It helps to increase important enzyme levels such as those responsible for lowering homocysteine.[v] Homocysteine is a metabolic byproduct that can dramatically affect cardiovascular and nerve health.
Lastly, Artichoke extract not only improves liver health, but it improves bile flow and assists in the breakdown of fats.[vi]
Perhaps the best nutrient for removal is bromelain. Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme found in pineapple. It assists in the break-up and elimination of congestion caused by trauma, such as coagulated blood, and protein based metabolic by-products. Bromelain also plays a dual role in the three-step cellulite treatment process. It assists in repair, as well as, removal. Removal is an essential process in treating cellulite, but it causes a certain amount of trauma. This leads to the second step.
Repair is just what it sounds like; healing the trauma caused by removal and by years of poor circulatory and metabolic functions. Body work will help stimulate proper repair and the body itself has good mechanisms for this, but without some other form of assistance, the process is often too slow to allow successive body work treatments to be optimally effective.
Bromelain assists in repair because it reduces inflammation and exhibits a mild analgesic effect, reportedly decreasing thromboxane and inhibiting prostaglandin E2, which are both products of the arachidonic acid pathway of inflammation.[vii] It is also reported to inhibit bradykinin, which is a major source of pain, at the site of inflammation.[viii]
Like bromelain, capsicum may also play a dual role. It is often used topically to reduce sensitivity to pain.
O ne of the best nutrients for repair is centella asiatica. Centella is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that has been used to improve wound healing for centuries. It promotes healthy collagen formation and reportedly increases epithelialization or skin growth.[ix] Centella also improves microcirculation, or blood flow in the smallest vessels.[x] This is vitally important for areas, which have been choked by cellulite and subsequently traumatized during removal.
This final step is most likely to be ignored or given insufficient attention. Yet, in truth it is the most important step in achieving the desired long-term result. Rebuilding the proper tissue structure in affected areas reduces the likelihood of future adipocyte hypertrophy. A well-designed nutritional supplement program can provide higher levels of the nutrients that the affected cells have been unable to receive, sometimes for years. This is achieved through a combination of factors, the most important being exercise and nutrition.
Butcher's Broom Extract is very useful for helping to rebuild the circulatory system. Butcher's Broom helps to protect, strengthen, and tone veins. Butcher's Broom contains compounds called ruscogenins that help improve venous tone, through an electrolyte-like reaction on the cell wall of capillaries.[xi]
Other key nutrients include B vitamins, vitamin C and bioflavonoids. These two nutrient families work together to help promote healthy growth of skin and connective tissue. Vitamin C is essential to the synthesis of collagen and elastin. Along with bioflavonoids, it modulates the release of histamines and prostaglandins, which if uncontrolled, can result in further stress to these tissues.
Of course a good multi-vitamin can also be useful in rebuilding simply, because it ensures that the body has all the raw materials it needs for building healthy cells and tissues. Any vigorous treatment, such as that for cellulite, increases the body's need for nutrition due to the trauma inherent in the process as well as the increased metabolic activity.
In fact, a well-designed system of nutritional therapeutic support accompanied by a higher level of basic nutrition, often makes the difference between fair results and excellent results in any treatment. It is the same as the difference between treating symptoms and treating causes.
How can the aesthetician most effectively incorporate nutritional supplements into daily treatments? First, finding the right supplier is critical. Deal only with a supplement supplier that does not sell its products to multi-level markets, stores, supermarkets, or directly to the consumer. After you create a customer for the product, you don't want them making their next purchase somewhere else. Second, you should choose products that are formulated specifically to support and enhance treatments you provide, such as cellulite, anti-aging, detoxification, and anti-stress. Third, choose a supplier that specializes in nutritional supplement formulations, which requires a different set of skills and experience from the formulation of skin care products.
How can the aesthetician introduce the concept of nutritional supplements to their clients? The best way is to include the supplement product as part of the treatment and include it in the price charged the client. Let the customer know that the supplement will improve their response to the treatment and help them maintain the benefits, especially if they continue taking the product on a maintenance basis. They can start taking the supplement immediately and continue with it even after the treatment or series of treatments are completed. Of course, the other option is to just recommend the product as an add-on enhancement to their treatment.
How can you enhance your profits with nutritional supplements? If your spa makes the average 10 percent net profit that means, for example, that for each $100 cellulite treatment you net $10 in profit. If you purchase a nutritional supplement product for $20 and sell it for $40 with the treatment, then your net profit will be$30 ($10 plus $20 profit from the supplement). You triple your profits, but only charge your client about 40 per cent more. You will also have a more satisfied client because of the enhanced treatment, and a reason for them to come back to your spa to purchase more products and consider other treatments.
James L. Beck, is the co-owner of Mountain View Labs, LLC, maker of TriElements brand of treatment specific nutritional supplements formulated especially for spas, and not sold in stores or direct to the consumer. Mr. Beck is a 30-year veteran of the nutritional supplements industry, and has pioneered the development of many revered products. He owns four U.S. patents and 44 foreign patents and patent applications dealing with the extraction, and use of bioactive ingredients in plants. For more information about the products or for seminars in your area please contact: 888-876-3240, or www.trielements.com
Copyright 2005 Mountain View Labs, LLC.
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[ii] Yoshioka M, St-Pierre S, Drapeau V, et al. Effects of Red Pepper on Appetite and Energy Intake. Br J Nutr. Aug1999;82(2):115-23.
[iii] Rue YC. Advances in Pharmacological Studies of Silymarin. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1991;86(Suppl 2):79-85.
[iv]Zed PJ, Krenzelok EP. Treatment of acetaminophen overdose. Am J Health Syst Pharm. Jun1999;56(11):1081-91.
[v]Wang JA, Dudman NP, Lynch J, Wilcken DE. Betaine:homocysteine methyltransferase--a new assay for the liver enzyme and its absence from human skin fibroblasts and peripheral blood lymphocytes. Clin Chim Acta. 1991 Dec 31;204(1-3):239-49.
[vi]Khadzhai I, et al. Effect of Artichoke Extracts on the Liver. Farmakol Toksikol. Nov1971;34(6):685-87.
[vii]Taussig SJ, et al. Bromelain, the enzyme complex of pineapple (Ananas comosus) and its clinical application. An update. J Ethnopharmacol. 1988;27:191-203
[viii]Kumakura S, Tsurufuji S, Yamashita M. Effect of bromelain on kaolin-induced inflammation in rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 1988;150:295-301.
[ix]Shukla A, Rasik AM, Jain GK, Shankar R, et al. In Vitro and In Vivo Wound Healing Activity of Asiaticoside Isolated from Centella asiatica. J Ethnopharmacol. Apr1999;65(1):1-11.
[x]Cesarone MR, et al. The Microcirculatory Activity of Centella asiatica in Venous Insufficiency. A Double-blind Study. Minerva Cardioangiol. 1994;42(6):299-304.
[xi] Bouskela E, Cyrino FZ, Marcolon G. Effects of Ruscus extract on the internal diameter of arterioles and venules of the hamster cheek pouch microcirculation. J.Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1993; 22(2): 221-285