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January 17-23, 2007

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Health & Fitness 2007:
Fight Club | Brush Your Sins Away | North Bay Rugby | Young Men's Health


Something to smile about: Brush away your troubles?

Brush with Greatness

New toothpaste promises weight loss and clean teeth

By Joy Lanzendorfer

With the new year come resolutions to lose weight. On TV, celebrities are hawking diet plans, and new products are promising to help you shed the unwanted pounds. Personally, I gained three pounds this Christmas. It's not a tremendous amount, but unwelcome nonetheless. So I was interested when I heard about Crave-Breaker, the appetite-control toothpaste.

Crave-Breaker is made by the Australian company White Glo and distributed in the United States by the Great White Trading Company in Santa Rosa. It claims to clean and whiten your teeth while suppressing your appetite at the same time.

The Crave-Breaker box reads: "Through years of research, White Glo has developed CRAVE-BREAKER, an effective homeopathic herbal formula which helps to suppress your hunger during the day. This is a world's first!"

That sure sounds convenient! After all, I have to brush my teeth anyway. Not only will my toothpaste be cleaning my teeth, it will also be whitening them and making me thinner at the same time. Talk about multitasking.

I asked Steve Miksis, general manager of the Great White Trading Company, what I can expect from Crave-Breaker. He says he's had nothing but positive feedback from customers so far.

"I tried it too," he says. "The effects lasted for about three hours. I didn't want coffee, I didn't want food. I wanted water, but that's about it. It's like it turned off my snacking desire."

I bought a tube at Raley's for $5.99. The directions instructed brushing thoroughly with the stuff for three minutes twice a day. There are no warnings except that pregnant women or kids under 12 should consult a doctor before using.

The toothpaste itself smells like black licorice. It tastes like black licorice too, only with some spice or mint thrown in. I noticed that when I put some on my tongue, it got slightly numb, but in a pleasant way that wore off quickly. I also discovered that three minutes is a long time when you are brushing your teeth. Afterwards, I really wanted some licorice, preferably red licorice, since I'm not all that crazy about black licorice.

But despite the candy craving, I did notice a shift in my eating habits. Instead of getting hungry around 10am, as usual, my appetite was pushed off until 11:30am or so. I also noticed I was more, um, regular.

Crave-Breaker's homeopathic formula includes focus vesiculosis, a seaweed extract that's supposed to boost metabolism to help the body break down fat, and nux vomica, which is used to "stimulant action on the gastro-intestinal tract," according to A Modern Herbal.

Before making a deal to distribute the toothpaste in the United States, the Great White Trading Company made sure the ingredients were FDA-approved. In addition, it has been sold for two years in several countries, and there haven't been any complaints.

"But Crave-Breaker is not meant to be a weight-loss supplement," says Miksis. "It's meant to be used as an additional tool in your weight-loss toolkit, in addition to eating right and exercising."

Over-the-counter weight-loss products range from mild metabolism boosters to "breakthrough" formulas that promise to make you slimmer while you lounge on the couch eating Dove Bars and watching American Idol.

OK, maybe the promises don't go quite that far, but the Federal Trade Commission did recently slap the makers of four diet pills--Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, One-A-Day WeightSmart and TrimSpa--with a $25 million fine for false advertising. In a controlled study, people taking a placebo actually lost more than those taking Xenadrine. And in the other cases, the people in the before-and-after photos lost weight through diet and exercise, not the diet pills.

Ah, diet and exercise. There's just no getting away from them, is there?

"The problem with taking any kind of pill to lose weight is that at some point you're going to stop taking the pills and go back to your old eating habits," says Eveline Simard, clinical nutritionist at It's You! Nutrition in Santa Rosa. "And it's actually more harmful to your body to go on these yo-yo diets. You need something more sustainable and long-term."

All in all, I used Crave-Breaker for 10 days. By the third day, the effects seemed to wear off and I was back to feeling hungry at 10am again. I did, however, lose one pound, although that may have more to do with the absence of Christmas cookies than the toothpaste. That, and the new Dance Dance Revolution game my husband got for Christmas.

But I will say this for Crave-Breaker: after 10 days, my teeth definitely looked whiter.

Crave-Breaker is available exclusively at Raley's and its affiliated markets.

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