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Going Bananas - Sniff Banana Essence To Curb Appetite??? Yup!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Years ago, a guest on Oprah talked about the essence of banana and peppermint as a scientifically proven way to curb appetite. I am sure that it was Dr. Hirsch, who developed a product called, Sensa, where you sprinkle something on your food....see article below for more details on Dr. Hirsch's studies. So, why spend money on his product, Sensa, when his original tests proven through 1000's of people that weight loss occurs just by smell?

Most of the people in the studies lost an average of 4 lbs a month!!! Slow, but over the course of 24 months = 96 lbs. Just from going ape over bananas or wild over peppermint???? I am going to go back to sniffing bananas!! :-) Though, the essence does remind me of my favorite candy, those orange colored circus peanuts - marshmallowy type of candy. I was smelling my banana essence yesterday, and there at the register was - yup - Circus Peanuts. I walked right past them cause I am on a goal to lose my belly fat.

I remember Oprah's eyes lit up when she heard this Dr. discussing the studies and statistics of proven weight loss. Well Oprah was heavy, then, and I was probably about 50 lbs lighter than I am now, and feeling FAT, soooooo, I went to a Mall and found a shop that was started in London, called Garden Botanika. I used an eyedropper, and put some banana essence into a small jar, and the shopkeeper placed a small label, banana, on it. I paid around $15 for .5 oz. I don't remember any significant weight loss because I never stuck to it. Thus the old bottle was way in the back of the tea, aromatherapy oils, herb and spice cabinet. The Universe doesn't give us any junk. I was meant to find this bottle and look up this article to share with all my Spark Friends. I checked. Garden Botanika doesn't carry it online, but other places do for about what I paid (at least 15 years, ago) It is still strong and fragrant after all this time.

Starting the Flat Belly Diet, yesterday, and feeling a bit hungry with only 1098 calories, I am going to go BANANAS this weekend. My daughter emailed me at 11 PM that she was invited upstate for 3 days by her friend's parents to stay at their cabin during the peak of foliage season. I was so hoping she and I would spend time together with the dog and go on a bike trail as it is a rare weekend where she does not have to work at the mall. I was already painfully feeling very ALONE when the email arrived, last night, and must LOVE myself out of this empty feeling lest I unconsciously start wanting to fill myself up with food. I need to make this commitment to stick with the Jump Start program. I am enclosing an article that summarizes an original article by Susan Lark, MD, whom I deeply respect.
Tell me what you think!! Am I going bananas or what?

in loving kindness,
Linda the Gardener


Smell and Weight Loss: The Science

Summarized by Dr. Steven Petrosino, Ph.D. from an article originally published by Susan Lark, MD

Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., a neurologist, and the founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Inc., in Chicago has done most of the innovative research in the field of Smell and appetite suppression. Dr. Hirsch is the author of numerous research studies on the effects of smell on diverse conditions such as weight loss, migraines, alcoholism, sexuality, and claustrophobia.

Dr. Hirsch’s research suggested that specific aromas can deprogram overweight people whose normal response to the smell of rich, unhealthy foods like chocolate, doughnuts and pizza was to become hungry and overeat. Hirsch tested the benefits of food odors to suppress appetite rather than stimulate appetite, and found that there seemed to be certain smells that caused overweight individuals to reduce their cravings, and therefore eat less.

In his previous research, Dr. Hirsch found that people preferred sweet smells, and that strongly sweet scents such as chocolate often triggered feelings of hunger and led to overeating or binge eating, while “neutral” sweet smells actually curbed appetite. To test his theory, he asked 3,193 overweight people (mostly women) aged 18-64 to inhale a variety of “neutral” sweet smells, including BANANA, green apple, and peppermint, three times in each nostril whenever they were hungry. After six months, he found that, on average, the participants in his study lost five pounds a month. Similar research has been done at the Human Neuro-Sensory Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and this research fully supports Dr. Hirsch’s findings. Researchers there studied eighty people who were given one of two inhalation devices. One contained a combination of specially selected scents; the other was a placebo (neutral un-detectable scent). All of these subjects were asked to inhale the scents three times five to six minutes before and after eating a meal. At the end of the six-month trial, those participants who used the selected scents lost an average of 19 pounds, while the placebo group only lost an average of 4 pounds.

Additional Published Studies on Smell and Weight Loss:

One such study is the smell and taste treatment and research foundation, part of the University of Illinois, titled Weight Reduction Through Inhalation of Odorants

A study on 3,193 over weight volunteers showed absolute positive results for people with good to above average or fraction of at least 4.7 pounds a month and continued to lose weight over a six month period. While this may seem little weight to lose it is a very significant result over a long term.

Another study was carried out by St. George’s Hospital Medical School-London.

Influence of an aroma patch on rate of weight loss and snacking habits of a diverse group of overweight subjects given dietary advice for weight loss.

Over two hundred people over a sixteen week trial period showed those participants on the patch lost an average of 4 pounds a month. Once again, not a quick fix result but a long-term strategy of dietary management. The Leffer study was so highly rated it was presented to the thirteenth International Congress of dietetics in Scotland last year

Hirsch has developed numerous techniques to suppress appetite and cause weight loss using scents such as apple (preferably green apple), banana, peppermint oil, and menthol oil. Based on his research, smelling these scents three times daily in each nostril will help to curb your appetite.

Dr. Hirsch also has an excellent program based on his research in the field of aromatherapy. His recommendations help to reduce craving for unhealthy foods as well as curbing overeating, resulting in weight loss. While it is healthy to avoid high-fat dairy products and artificially sweetened soft drinks if you are trying to lose weight, here are additional tips for weight loss that can be used safely by virtually anyone.

Smell the food before you eat it.
Take small bites and chew each bite well (eat slowly).
Limit your food choices at any one meal. In other words, skip the buffet.
Choose fresh food rather than processed, pre-packaged, or canned food.
Eat hot or warm food rather than cold, since the natural aroma of foods are more efficiently released when food is warm, helping satisfy your appetite.
Choose the most aromatic food like garlic, onions, and foods cooked with herbs and spices since these satisfy your appetite more completely. Research studies have shown that people tend to lose weight more quickly and are less likely to feel deprived if they avoid bland foods, and choose foods that are highly aromatic and flavorful.
Avoid dairy products. Milk is so bland that your satiety center doesn’t respond to it the same way is does to other foods. As a result, people tend to over eat rich, highly caloric dairy-based foods.
Avoid diet sodas and artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame). They trick your body into thinking you are eating sugar, and actually result in increased release of insulin into your bloodstream! This in turn causes your blood sugar levels to drop, which then triggers your appetite, tricking you into feeling hungry and resulting in overeating.
For more information on Dr. Hirsch’s program, I highly recommend his book entitled, Scentsational Weight Loss, published by Simon and Schuster.


Women are better suited to utilizing this approach than men since a woman’s sense of smell is more acute. Researchers have postulated that a women’s sensitive olfactory system actually provides her with two survival mechanisms:

1. Her sense of smell helps her detect the pheromones of her mate and enhances her sexual desire, especially during ovulation; and

2. Her sense of smell helps her identify her offspring through scent.

The science behind why aromatherapy works meshes your sense of smell with your satiety level. When you inhale through your nose, odor molecules enter your nasal cavity, and eventually reach the olfactory bulb (smell center) located at the top of your nasal cavity (inside your nose). A separate mechanism within your brain controls satiety, or your “fullness” level. A portion of the hypothalamus which is called the “satiety center” helps you know whether or not you are full. But how does smell (rather than eating) effect our perception of being “full”?

Airborne odor molecules are filtered through the olfactory bulb, which is connected to the satiety center in your hypothalamus (in your brain). This satiety canter interprets these odor molecules to inform your brain that you have eaten enough and that you are full…and this response is completely separate from responses which are actually driven by eating foods (and which surprisingly take longer). Additionally, the odor molecule receptors are located in the limbic region of our brain, which is the center of our emotions, and this may help to explain why so many scents can trigger our emotions and memories. The limbic lobe in turn directly activates the hypothalamus, which houses and controls our satiety center. In other words, our nose dictates our hunger level more quickly and more efficiently than our stomach!
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