January 09, 1998

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer



Staff Writer

Have you ever heard the expression, "If you snooze, you lose?"

Advocates of the nutritional supplement Calorad believe the product helps people do just that.

Violet Vaughn, 66, of Hagerstown has been taking Calorad for about 10 months. She lost 28 pounds.

Vaughn, who had both knees replaced in 1994 and again in 1995, says Calorad also has helped relieve pain in her knees.


"I really needed it," she says.

Others are skeptical about the product's benefits.

Sandy Kelbaugh, 45, and her husband, Millard, 65, of Hagerstown took Calorad for 90 days. Both had hopes of losing weight and were disappointed even though they faithfully followed the suggested regimen.

A tablespoon of the product is to be taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water each night at bedtime.

"If you quit eating at 5 or 6 at night, you'd lose weight anyway," says Donna Tucker of Chambersburg, Pa., who bought Calorad because she wanted to lose about 20 pounds.

"Everybody looks for the easy way," she admits.

She's been taking Calorad as directed for about two weeks and has seen no results.

"Nothing. No energy," she says.

About 14 percent of people who take Calorad will experience no weight reduction, according to Essentially Yours Industries Corp., Calorad's manufacturer.

But even if people don't lose weight, Essentially Yours claims people can benefit much in the same way they'd benefit from taking vitamin or mineral supplements.

Some people say Calorad helps them sleep.

Luella Mattern, a 69-year-old resident of Waynesboro, Pa., has suffered from chronic nerve pain for about 25 years, pain that makes her tense and keeps her from sleeping.

Mattern believes Calorad is helping her sleep and thinks she has more energy from taking the supplement. She says she no longer feels drugged from the muscle relaxants she used to take as a sleep aid.

What is Calorad?

Calorad was developed in 1983 by Michel Grise of Quebec to eliminate the "fatty syndrome" in poultry because fat chickens stop laying eggs.

In 1985, wanting to lose some weight himself, Grise reformulated the product for his own use. He lost 20 pounds in 21 days and lost two inches from his waist and gained two inches around his shoulders, according to product information.

Calorad ingredients include aloe vera, vegetal glycerin, potassium sorbate and methyl paraben (from blueberries), peach flavor and demineralized water. The key component is collagen hydrolysat, a fibrous protein extracted from the connective tissue of Canadian cows.

Rena Davis, an Oregon clinical nutritionist and biochemist, claims to have taken her 5-foot-1-inch, 247-pound body from size 24 to size 3. A consultant to Calorad's manufacturer, she believes the product helped her become pregnant for the first time at age 42.

Davis says Calorad works because it provides a fuel that is being used during the body's growth hormone release period - during the first 30 to 60 minutes of sleep.

But Dr. Abdul Waheed, a Hagerstown physician specializing in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine, says he knows of no scientific evidence that such a product would do anything, especially during that period of sleep.

Because Calorad is a food, not a drug, it is not subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, and no double-blind studies - product testing in which neither the subjects nor the researchers know who is receiving the product or the placebo - were done, Davis says.

Dr. Stephen S. Lippman, a Hagerstown physician who specializes in endocrinology and metabolism, calls collagen the cheapest protein available. Although he hasn't analyzed Calorad, he says hydrolyzed collagen basically is gelatin.

Does Lippman believe Calorad works?

It's well-established in obesity research that people can lose weight by making a commitment to lose weight, Lippman says.

If people decide to lose weight and adhere to a program, some of them will lose weight, he says.

"The placebo effect is real, and there's nothing wrong with it as long as they don't take too much of your money," he adds.

Many people spend $100 an hour to talk to psychiatrists, Lippman says. If they believe they are being helped, it's OK.

How much does Calorad cost?

Calorad is designed to be taken for a minimum of three to four months, and the literature recommends that people not start the program unless they are willing to make that commitment.

A one-month supply - one bottle - costs $60 at retail. A wholesale cost of $218.50 for five bottles is available, allowing those who sign up to become associate members and sell the product as well.

Sandy Kelbaugh, who hopes to get reimbursed for her remaining Calorad, says she considers it way too expensive to continue without results.

"You'd better believe it's not cheap," says Vaughn, who buys Calorad one bottle at a time.

But Vaughn plans to continue taking it.

"It was just like a miracle worker," she says.

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