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    Non-caloric taste-enhancing crystals sprinkled on food caused weight loss of 33.6 lbs in six months

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Friday, June 27, 2008 7:14 am Email this article
    Sprinkling non-caloric taste-enhancing crystals on food cause men to lose an average of 34.8 pounds, or 16 percent of their body weight in six months, while women lost an average of 29.9 pounds, or 14.4 percent of their body weight versus a weight loss of 2 pounds for the control group according to a study by the always interesting Alan Hirsch, MD at his Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

    “The Tastants may have induced weight loss by enhancing the taste of the food, thereby accelerating the onset of sensory-specific satiety, causing participants to feel full faster and eat less,” Dr. Hirsch noted.

    These crystals are being sold under the name of SENSA costing $210 for a 6 month supply.

    (Update: Oct 26, 2010. I attached a couple of YouTube videos about Sensa to this story. The first one is from NBC Dateline. The second is of a woman who tried and and did not lose any weight.) Subjects

    Subjects: 181 men, 1255 women

    The study involved 181 men with an average body weight of 217 pounds and an average body mass index (BMI) of 33, and 1255 women with an average body weight of 207 pounds and an average BMI of 34.4.

    The control group consisted of 100 people with an average weight of 218 pounds and an average BMI of 34.1.



    Comment: I would like to see others repeat this study

    As with any weight loss product showing promise like this, I’d like to see this study repeated by University researchers.


    Hirsch AR. Use of gustatory stimuli to facilitate weight loss. Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation’s website. 2008 Jun, http://www.smellandtaste.org/index.cfm?action=research.sprinkles.


    Alan Hirsh, MD
    Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
    Chicago, IL USA

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


    On Jul 11, 2008 at 4:03 am RG wrote:

    . . . . .

    The inconvenience of having to cover one's food in crystals may have caused them to do less impulse snacking. Also difficult to apply crystals to dry food so they may have eaten a more volumetric diet. Still the principle of taste and satiety is valid. I, too, would like to see more research.

    On Jul 11, 2008 at 6:23 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    I assume that the crystals are like adding salt to your food. You'd probably not notice them.

    I have additional questions as well and would like to see other researchers repeat this study.

    MSG -- monosodium glutamate -- used in Chinese food is a flavor enhancer.

    Other glutamate products similar to MSG are also flavor enhancers.

    Dr. Hirsh does not say in his paper what the exact chemical is that he is using, so I don't know if it is one of these glutamate products.

    The tastants used in his study had ?sweet? and ?salty? taste, and had the flavors of "cheddar cheese and cocoa, onion and spearmint, horseradish and banana, ranch and strawberry, taco and raspberry, and parmesan and malt" according to Dr. Hirsh's paper.

    On Jan 09, 2009 at 9:52 pm Karen wrote:

    . . . . .

    Sorry, but the article sound like total b.s. to me. I worked with physicians for years, many who were involved in various research. I would never trust reports from research simply for making a claim. Doctors lie all the time in their research and mainly do them for some motive or the other, expecting commission or fame, or some money by making some claims to boost sales of one product or the other. Only research from socialised countries are non commercial as the law restricts the kind of business by doctors permitted in this country, and research in socialised countries are mostly government funded. U.S. research are the most unreliable on the market (only business).

    On Jan 10, 2009 at 7:14 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thanks for your input.

    Six or eight months ago, one of the news magazine programs -- maybe NBC Dateline -- did a piece on these crystals and questioned the research just like you.

    They also asked Dr. Hirsch several questions which he did not answer to my satisfaction.

    On Jan 10, 2009 at 8:54 am Roberta wrote:

    . . . . .

    The fact that Dr. Hirsch did not name the chemical in Sensa raises questions. Where is the concern for a possible allergic reaction to this unknown substance? The price of Sensa might be a deterrent from over-eating as it would be economical to eat less. One of the reasons obesity is so widespread today is because food is more affordable. We cannot accept the cause and effect relationship Dr. Hirsch offers without more information and independent studies.

    On Jan 10, 2009 at 9:05 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    I agree with all of what you say.

    On Oct 26, 2010 at 10:43 am robert skversky wrote:

    . . . . .

    Larry, One of my current patients who has lost @ 40 pounds in my program using combination phentermine, topamax, and Glumetza, I recently saw on an infomercial for "Sensa". Since the previous posts beginning in June, 2008 has any additional "reserch" come out to discredit this product? The current 30 min spots on TV look very convincing to the unaware, and vulnerable consumer. Thanks r

    On Oct 26, 2010 at 11:50 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .

    Dr. Skversky,

    No, I can't find any more research on the product "Sensa" or "tastants".

    Unfortunately, I don't believe this research.

    I attached a couple of YouTube videos to this article so people can watch it for themselves.

    The study was done by Alan Hirsch, MD at his clinic, the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

    I like Dr. Hirsch. He's a charming guy.

    I interviewed him in 1999 about his book "Scentsational Weight Loss" (Simon & Schuster, 1998) about smells causing weight loss.

    He has also called me several times over the past 10 years to let me know about new research that he has completed in case I am interested in writing about it.

    But, unfortunately, I don't believe it.

    Since Dr. Hirsch did the study and he is the one associated with selling them, it seems pointless to interview him and try to catch him saying something that does not make sense.

    A television news magazine program -- maybe NBC Dateline -- interviewed Dr. Hirsch a few years ago and pointed out that this study was really an old study that was repackaged as a new study. I can't find that particular video. It was with a different journalist than the YouTube video I attached when they were raising questions for Dr. Hirsh.

    If I can find it, I'll attached that video also.

    Larry Hobbs


    On a side note, about 10 years ago, a company started selling "diet pens" that contained various smells.

    You were supposed to smell the pens whenever you were hungry.

    The company sent me a study they had done which claimed a weight loss of 19 lbs using these pens.

    But having read plenty of diet drug studies, the data looked too perfect.

    The study claimed that just about everyone lost weight, and the weight loss was something like 2 lbs every week.

    I have never seen a study showing that some substance causes a perfect 2 lbs of weight loss in just about everyone who used it.

    The data looked like it was made up to me.

    So I called the company that did the study, an independent research firm.

    The secretary would not let me talk to the lead researcher, and she said that he did not want his name associated with the study.

    The study was obviously bogus. and the data was probably just made up, as I've seen with several studies of nutritional weight loss products.

    So I wrote an article saying that I did not believe the study, and the company of the diet pens had there lawyers send me a letter threatening to sue me unless I retracted what I had said.

    I did not make a retraction, and they did not sue me.

    On Mar 09, 2012 at 6:46 am Roberta wrote:

    . . . . .

    If this product were safe and effective Big Pharma would be marketing it under a different brand name. How is Dr. H. able to patent an ingredient he does not even list on the label?

    On Mar 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm Jan wrote:

    . . . . .

    I read his first book "Dr. Hirsch's Guide to Scentsational Weight Loss" (Element Publishing) back in 97 when it came out. He says in the book to sniff your food before eating it, and I remember thinking how the heck is that gonna help?

    So...I tried it that Sunday at lunch at my favorite restaurant, Luby's Cafeteria. I had turkey and dressing and veggies and probably pie. When I started eating the turkey and dressing, I smelled each bite before putting it in my mouth. About half way thru the meal, my appetite simply evaporated. Gone. Half my T & D still on the plate to take home for next day. Very, very unusual for me.

    I can't remember what happened after that other than I forgot all about it and went rite on as before.

    Some years later I ran across the book and read it again. I remembered the T & D experiment and went out to the health food store and bought organic extracts and essences of lemon, banana, mint, etc. and made myself some scent containers. I really cant remember, but I think my creation didn't work very well and once again something new came along and I forgot all about it.

    When Dr. Hirsch marketed his Sensa I researched it but it seemed to be unreasonably priced so I passed on it. However... after reading the above article and conversation, I re-researched Sensa, and dug out the book and have re-reread it. I also read about a thousand comments on the Sensa facebook page. All those people are not lying. It appears that the obese people are using Sensa and losing fat, and the slightly fat people are using Sensa and being disappointed. Some say they are losing as much as 11.5 pounds in the first week. A simple reduction in calories would not account for such a large decrease. I am thinking about trying it, but in the meantime, I am sniffing my food while eating it. Also, 2 people had to stop using it due to an extreme increase in BP, and some had terrible headaches.

    http://www.facebook.com/Sensa if anyone is interested.

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