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Sensa Weight Loss Product: Solution for Draconian Self-Deprivation and Hedonic Sacrifice? August 4, 2009

Filed under: Complementary Therapies,Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 4:54 pm


Finally! A Doc has called out healthy eating and exercise for what it really is: “Draconian self-deprivation efforts… hedonic sacrifice.”

Right on doc. Humans are totally over healthy eating and exercise. It’s so last century. We should be able to achieve magnificently toned bodies by simply placing an overflowing plate of fried chicken and Swedish meatballs on our bellies while watching endless hours of the Food Network. Is that too much to ask? Apparently not:  

“Excess weight is a risk factor for myriad illnesses including diabetes and cerebrovascular disease. Despite its ubiquity, treatment is, for the most part, ineffective and focuses on conscious, draconian self-deprivation efforts including portion control, fasting, hedonic sacrifice, or initiation of a rigorous, often painful, exercise program. Chemosensory modification to induce weight loss has used both aversive and nonaversive olfactory and hedonically positive gustatory stimuli.”

The paragraph above can be found in the abstract for Dr. Alan Hirsch’s latest research on his new weight loss product, Sensa. Here’s how Dr. Hirsch describes his product:

“Sensa works with your sense of smell to curb your hunger without affecting the taste of your food. This induces something called ‘sensory-specific satiety.’ It makes your brain perceive that you’ve eaten more than you have and, thus, you eat less and lose weight.”


Using Sensa is simple:  Just sprinkle some “salty” or “sweet” Sensa Tastant crystals on any food that you eat. There are no required changes in diet or exercise. After one month, purchase the next Sensa pack and repeat the sprinkling. Repeat until desired weight loss is achieved and use for weight maintenance as well.  

I initially thought Sensa sounded interesting because its formulation is based on aromatherapy and taste research. Additionally, Dr. Hirsch has some publications in complementary health journals, so I thought his approach may be a bit more holistic. Oh yeah, and the product claimed an average weight loss of 30.5 pounds in 6 months for a group of 1,436 participants who sprinkled Sensa on their foods- not too shabby.

So, I looked for the Sensa study in every journal I have access to (which is quite a lot for U of MN students). But, I couldn’t find it. It looks as though Dr. Hirsch’s research has not been published in a journal. This raises many questions for the claims that Sensa makes. 

In Dr. Hirsch’s patent application for Sensa, he discusses a smaller study on Sensa that showed a weight loss average of 5.6 pounds in 6 months. That’s 25 pounds less than his current claims. How did he swing that? Was the formulation of the product changed and results improved that dramatically? Hmmm… I’m thinking Sensa just isn’t making sense.

Additionally, there’s no discussion on Dr. Hirsch’s control group for the study. Was the control group significantly different than the test group? It simply wouldn’t be fair if he collected his test group from overeaters anonymous and his control group from a spin class at the health club.

I totally respect Dr. Hirsch; he has done some awesome research for complementary therapies and carries his work into the mainstream. But, really, this product seems like a waste of money ($59 per month, $33 per month if you purchase the 6 month bulk pack). On a good note, this product seems to be safer than most other diet pills. However, there are still artificial ingredients in the product and the full ingredient list is not disclosed.

Call me a masochist, but I would put my money toward a rigorous, painful exercise program and the hedonic sacrifice of healthier foods.


9 Responses to “Sensa Weight Loss Product: Solution for Draconian Self-Deprivation and Hedonic Sacrifice?”

  1. Kara Says:

    I enjoyed your article and although there are many valid points that are made, you are forgetting and that is that there are many of us that are using it and it is working quite well.

    I have not made any major change in my life and yet, I still drop pounds. Sure it would be great if I lost the weight because of exercise, but then if it were that simple….I would be exercising. Since I am losing weight with Sensa, is that not a good thing? I have lost over 23 pounds in less than 4 months.

    Another thing I must comment on is that there is an inexpensive free offer at http://Sensasolution.com that many do not know about. With that link the cost to try it out is much less than minimal. The prices you quoted are accurate, but they are much more than a person needs to pay.

    Overall it was an interesting article, I just wish you did not close your mind to the product without speaking with some people that use/used the stuff. You would be surprised with how many of us are out here.


  2. Aimee Says:


    Thanks for your comment! That’s what these comments are for- so that you can share your voice and wisdom. I love it! And I’m so happy that you’re seeing weight loss 🙂

    I definitely honor the voices of Sensa users, but for a product like this, my focus is on safety and the weight loss claims that are made. I would like to see a complete ingredient list for Sensa- I believe that full disclosure is important for consumers. Additionally, it concerns me when weight loss claims are made based on questionable research (at least I have questions about it).

    Products like Fen-Phen offered weight loss, but with serious health risks attached. I don’t feel that Sensa is necessarily a dangerous product, but I like to know what I’m putting in my body. But, that’s just me… I’m overly-cautious and always skeptical!

  3. Chelsea Says:

    I agree Aimee, it is hard to indulge in a product without knowing what it is you are putting in your body. I am afraid to say that I think Sensa can be added to the long list of weight losss gimics that are not truly the long-term answer. I think weight loss and maintaining relies on lifestyle choices, including diet. I think 98% of diet products out there, are a waste of money. I think the success of Sensa may also have a psychological affect on some of the consumers. Along with other diet pils and products, sometimes people convince themselves they aren’t hungry because they have consumed the diet product. It would be interesting also to see the research on Sensa users success at maintaining there weight loss after a year or so. I guess I am just a fan of lots of fruits and veggies and exercising– I choose that for my lifestyle and think if others would we could maybe eliminate all these diet products! Thanks for posting about Sensa, it is an interesting concept.

  4. Linda Says:

    Sensa sounds like a first step for people that have lost hope to lose weight. If it works, why not. I am sure these people that have tried losing weight have used all kinds of weight loss chemicals and ingested all kinds of products and have done things to their body like surgery and still no weight loss. I would say that this would be a start and after they see results of losing weight they could learn to start eating veggies and fruits, this would give them support to eat healthy, sorta like a kick start although I would still like to see the ingredients too.

  5. Lynn Says:

    I have been struggling with weight for years. I’ve been on every diet and used every support there is…Weight Watchers, Jenny…etc. I finally had lap band surgery five years ago. The idea is similar to Sensa…feel full faster. Well, if you don’t treat the underlying cause of the weight, anyone can outeat, outsmart any diet plan or aide out there. I thought the band was the answer…until I realized I can drink with my meals and flush the food right through the band. I have to work harder to eat my lunch and dinner, but I still eat as much as I did before. Total weight loss to-date? 35 lbs. In five years. Not impressive. Sensa won’t do much better because you haven’t found the root cause to your eating. THAT’s something that every overweight person could benefit from. My weight is going down now due to behavioral counseling and finding my root cause.

  6. Terry Says:

    There is always skepticism when a new idea is introduced, specially in the field of weight loss. I don’t think anybody is really interested in offering a long lasting solution because of the billions of dollars involved in this industry. If it is as simple as eating less and doing exercises, why is it so hard to do for the most of us. Unfortunately, we are unique and complex beings. We are learning more and more about our bodies, our physiology, our psychology but I don’t think we have scratched the surface yet. We should really keep an open mind because the answer might just be the next new idea no matter how far fetch it might seem for now. Why take away people’s hope. I’m just grateful that there are dedicated,great minds out there like Dr. Hirsch who offer new hope for the diet weary masses. What if it’s really as simple as smelling something to impact your satiety center to signal that you had enough to eat, won’t that be worth exploring and trying out? Does it really matter if you just thought or convinced yourself it works, as long as you are getting the results you expected? Try it with the expectation that it will work for you and see what happens. As for me and my ‘friends’ we will keep on sprinkling until we are free of the oppresion of insatiable food cravings.

  7. Aimee Says:

    Terry, thanks for your comment! I definitely know what insatiable food cravings are like. I dealt with them for many years and struggled through my own emotional eating and an eating disorder. It was through changes in my diet, but more importantly changes in my mind and spirit that gave me freedom from these struggles.

    I agree, we are unique and complex beings. With that in mind, it is vital that attention and reconnection to our body and emotional experiences are at the foundation of behavioral modifications (if we really want them to stick). Quick fixes and fad diets are just distractions from the work that really needs to be done.

    I appreciate Dr. Hirsch’s thinking behind the product, but do not believe that scientific claims should be made without backing them up. Marketing strategies like that only take advantage of consumers. And I don’t think that’s fair.

    My intention is not to take people’s hope away, but rather to present them with what I see are the facts. Then, as an educated consumer, individuals can make up their own mind. Too often, people bow down to Dr’s without taking a moment to reflect on their own wisdom. Truthfully, we are our best doctors. We know the triggers, struggles, cycles, experiences, etc. of our own body and mind much better than an outsider. So, combine that wisdom with some trustworthy evidence, then make a decision. My passion is to support that process.

    And of course, the placebo effect is powerful and a valuable therapeutic tool. Many of our drugs today are no more than placebos. But, the placebo should be as safe as possible and the side effects (if any) should be communicated truthfully.

    Long story short, we all have different paths to our own health and healing. If sprinkling Sensa allows an individual to connect more deeply with their relationship to food and find healing and freedom from cravings and obesity, then that’s wonderful. But, that person should all be aware of honest/realistic expectations and possible side-effects from products like these.

  8. Julie Says:

    I was curious about SENSA and took a look at the website. As I was navigating away from the page a window popped up that offered me reduced shipping and handling- now only $1.95 for shipping and then over $89/month after that would automatically be billed to my credit card. Also a “Live chat person” Jenny was now communicating with me. I asked Jenny numerous times if there were any negative side effects and was unable to obtain an answer. Instead of answering my question I kept getting answers such as- “We are committed to your complete satisfaction, which is why we offer a 100% GUARANTEE! CLICK HERE to get started.”

    Hmmm…..seems a little strange that they were so focused on getting my credit card number so they could continue shipping to my home and they could not or would not answer if there were any negative side effects. I asked if I was talking/e-mailing a live person or was it automated- and was told it was a live person. Below is just one of the comments I received back from my live chat person.

    ***** Says: You are probably thinking, “Can SENSA really help me lose weight?” Well the answer is yes, but don’t take my word for it, CLICK HERE to read how well SENSA has worked for others.

    You: no I’m thinking what are the possible harmful side effects?

    Unfortunately, unable to get a solid answer, or any answer to my question.


  9. Aimee,

    I was curious about Sensa too so followed the trail and found your research blog. Very interesting. I represent Mila, a food. It has been found in some users to reduce appetite because of its fiber content. There are a number of studies that have been published on the benefits of Omega 3 in the diet. Mila is the highest source of safe omega 3 that I have found. Stick food I guess, FDA has classified Mila as a food. Lots of people are buying and eating it regularly. It is new to the midwest. I’m working on introducing it. Thanks for the forum.

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