Losing Weight Through Your Nostrils

Losing Weight Through Your Nostrils

Food & Drink

Losing Weight Through Your Nostrils


By Cari Martens

A variety of aroma-related weight-loss products now claim they can help you shed pounds by manipulating your sense of smell.

One product, Sensa, is said to curb your appetite by enhancing both the aroma and taste of foods. Another product, a nasal spray, claims to lessen appetite by blocking the smell of foods.

There are also diet pens (SlimScents), writing instruments filled with minty or fruity scents that are currently in test; peppermint-scented beads (Happy Scent); and an Aroma Patch, which is supposed to be worn on your hand, wrist or chest.

All these diet products are designed to mess with our olfactory bulb—the organ that transmits smell from the nose to the brain—to signal the satiety center and suppress one’s appetite.

Writing for the New York Times, Abby Ellin has put together a fairly in-depth piece on the subject of aromatherapy and weight loss. She quotes Dr. Richard L. Doty, director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia. ‘There’s been a theory around for a number of years that if you saturate your sensory system that you’ll not be as hungry,’ he says. But, he adds, ‘There needs to be more research done.’

Of course, that doesn’t curb some of the claims being made for these ‘smell-and-lose-weight’ products.

Dr. Alan Hirsch, the inventor of Sensa, conducted a study in 2005 on 1,436 patients using his product, which are granules for sprinkling on foods. According to the results of the study, the average weight loss after six months was just over 30 pounds.

However, Dr. Mark I. Friedman, associate director of Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, is quoted in the Times story as throwing some cold water on the theory. ‘There’s no scientific evidence that smelling or tasting flavors is going to suppress your intake over a nutritionally significant interval,’ he says.

We’ll keep sniffing around to see if there are more developments in this trend.

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