Dr. Oz Discusses Sensa Weight Loss Sensation with Experts
“It acts to make you feel full. You eat less. You lose weight,” says Dr. Oz’s special guest Dr. Alan Hirsch, the inventor of the SENSA® Weight-Loss Tastants that many dieters swear has worked wonders toward their weight loss—one of which on The Dr. Oz Show stated that she lost 128 pounds from using Sensa.
Dr. Alan Hirsch, M.D., F.A.C.P. is a board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist who is nationally recognized as a smell and taste expert. Dr. Hirsch’s credentials include that as an author of eight books on the science of the effects of smell and taste on human emotion, mood, behavior, diseases states, consumer preferences, weight loss, and other topics.
He is famously known by the mainstream media as the holder of numerous patents including that of SENSA® Weight-Loss Tastants—food flakes made reportedly from maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, silica, and flavorings that you sprinkle on foods to enhance feelings of satiety (fullness) and reduce eating behaviors that together results in significant weight loss.
Dr. Hirsch’s belief is that the olfactory system is capable of influencing many biological responses in the human body and has written and published abstracts and papers over a wide range of olfactory-related responses as evidenced by paper titles such as:
• “The Effects of the Aroma of Jasmine on Bowling Score”
• “Effect of Television Viewing on Senosory-Specific Satiety: Are Leno and Letterman Obesogenic?”
• “Effect of Aroma on Empathy”
• “Effects of odor on perception of age”
• “Use of tastants in weight reduction”
• “Use of gustatory stimuli to facilitate weight loss”
• “You are as you smell: the effect of odor and breath odor on social acceptance”
• “Sexually Exciting Odors”
According to the website for The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, of which Dr. Hirsch is the director, Dr. Hirsch’s interest in using odorants to modify behavior originated when he observed early in his career that many patients who had lost their sense of smell due to head trauma frequently gained 20-30lbs. This observation prompted him to hypothesize that if losing one's sense of smell could lead to weight gain, could the opposite be true...could enhancing one's sense of smell lead to weight loss?
In one of his earlier studies he tested this hypothesis through an experiment that assessed the effect of inhalation of certain aromas upon weight control. Dr. Hirsch designed an experiment where 3,193 overweight volunteers with an average age of 43 years and an average weight of 217 pounds were given an inhaler containing a blend of odorants and instructed to inhale three times in each nostril whenever feeling hungry.
What the experimental results revealed was that by inhaling specific odorants, that test subjects on average lost approximately 5 pounds or 2% of their body weight per month over a 6-month period.
Research available as an abstract for a poster presentation claims that in a more recent study of 2,437 overweight or obese subjects during a six-month period, that his patented tastant crystals are further proof that his weight loss products work.
In the study, participants sprinkled a variety of savory or sweet tastant crystals onto their food prior to eating. Pre- and post-study weights were obtained and compared to a 100 non-treated participants who served as a control group.
The results of the study state that out of the initial 2,437 participants, 1,436 consisting of 87.4% female and 12.6% male, with an average initial weight of 208 pounds, and a BMI of 34.2 completed this 6-month study with a significant amount of weight loss. According to the abstract, the average weight loss for the test group was 30.5 pounds. The control group that did not take the tastant crystal had an average weight loss of only 2 pounds. The average percent reduction in weight over the six-month trial was 14.7% with males experiencing a 16% loss and females experiencing a 14.4% reduction in weight.
The edible tastants used in the study are now marketed as the “SENSA® Weight-Loss Tastants” that is also referred to as "The Sprinkle Diet," in some sectors of the weight loss industry. However, technically, Sensa is not a true diet in the normal sense of consumption. Rather Sensa works with your sense of smell to trick your brain and your stomach into feeling that you are full—usually described by Dr. Hirsch with the term "sensory-specific satiety" to describe the process by which smell receptors send messages of fullness to the brain.
In other words, dieters who take Sensa are literally sniffing away excess pounds and breaking their old eating habits with the end result of losing weight.
However, not all health professionals are in agreement that taking Sensa lives up to its claims.
Although Sensa appears to be very safe for consumption, with a dearth of any reports of side effects, experts argue that it does not encourage or promote dieters to adopt a healthier eating lifestyle. With Sensa, dieters do not have to change their eating habits or exercise more—although it is encouraged.
Furthermore, as pointed out on the health website WebMD, dietary experts state that the “research” done may not be as credible as the public is lead to believe. WebMD states in part:
The company's weight loss evidence is based on a few company-sponsored "clinical" studies (not to be confused with a clinical trial, which is the gold standard for research) done by Hirsch. These studies have not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The lack of published scientific evidence on Sensa, along with a lack of diet and fitness guidelines to accompany the product, raise a red flag for some nutrition experts.
"This is not a magic bullet. There is no magic sprinkle. This isn’t even a diet," says diet and fitness expert, Pamela Peeke, MD. "It oversimplifies the complex physiology and psychology associated with appetite."
She adds that there is nothing unique about the list of ingredients in the tastants.
Dr. Oz’s final word on his recommendation for or against Sensa is expected to be more against than for, due to that Dr. Oz has always promoted healthy and sensible eating with exercise for weight loss over the use of supplements and “magic pills.” Whether Sensa is truly the weight loss sensation dieters are hoping for, further study and publication in accepted peer-reviewed journals within the diet and health spheres of medicine are needed to conclude its effectiveness as a safe and effective weight loss aid.
Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia
The Dr. Oz Show: “Dr. Oz Alert: Sensa--Sensation or Senseless?”
“Weight Reduction Through Inhalation of Odorants”—an early paper by Dr. Hirsch available online that was published in 1995 in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine and Surgery 16:28-31.
“Use of Gustatory Stimuli to Facilitate Weight Loss” online abstract presentation of Dr. Hirsch’s more recent work supporting the use of Sensa tastants for weight loss.