It's called the Sadkhin Complex, and it is the creation of a Russian cardiologist

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STRONGSVILLE -- Diets that eliminate food groups are not new. Just ask anyone who has tried Atkins, South Beach or the grapefruit diet, to name a few.

But a weight loss program that's recently come to Strongsville is adding a new dimension in shedding pounds: acupressure.

It's called the Sadkhin Complex, and it is the creation of a Russian cardiologist, who was looking for a way to help his cardiac patients shed pounds. Low calorie diets worked but didn't address hunger.

Dr. Gregory Sadkhin turned to his acupuncture training and found stimulating 16 control points behind the ears can stimulate the hypothalamus and secrete hormones which control hunger.

But no needles are involved in Sadkhin's. Instead, clients have tiny metal balls taped behind their ears that they rotate every two hours.

The Sadkhin Complex is not new, but it has recently come to the Cleveland area.

We visited recently to learn more about the method and its results. Dr. Carmelita Reyes and Dr. Vern Chuba are certified Sadkhin practitioners.

They are both doctors of podiatric medicine. Reyes decided to become a Sadkhin practitioner after she tried the program.

"It worked for me, and now I want to help everyone else," Reyes explained.

Sherry Reamensnyder tried Sadkhins several years ago when the weight loss method came to Youngstown.

Like many women, Reamensnyder found the pounds crept on after childbirth.

"I didn't want to look in the mirror. I didn't want to try on clothes because I always felt that they didn't look great. I didn't have a lot of energy," she explained.

The diet portion is restrictive. Clients eat only between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For two days they eat only fruits and vegetables. They must limit themselves to 1½ lbs total.

For the next two days they switch to milk. They can choose from whole milk and plain, cinnamon or vanilla yogurt. Those with lactose intolerance can drink Lactaid, soy milk, goat milk, almond milk or rice milk.

Skim milk is not acceptable. Clients must consume no more than 2½ cups of milk per day, or up to 20 ounces of yogurt. The diet alternates every two days until clients reach their goal weight. Tea with honey is permissible throughout the day.

Reamensnyder started Sadkhin's two months before a cruise and lost 35 pounds in that time.

As part of the program, you must rotate the tiny balls behind your ears every two hours during the day to help fend off hunger.

"It really does work. The acupressure is part of the eating and staying within the rules," Reamensnyder said.

Part of the program requires you to return to the Sadkhin office approximately every 10 days to have the balls placed on different control points.

Reamensnyder says she returned to the program after her cruise and lost another 15 pounds, bringing her total weight loss to 50 pounds.

Now she's on a maintenance program that allows her to incorporate other foods, such as lean meats, back into her diet, but she still eats a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

"I have maintained. It's been two to three years now. It's just learning what works for you," Reamensnyder said, as she showed us a pair of her old pants: size 14. Now she wears a size 8. Her waist has gone from a 34-inch circumference to 29 inches today.

Diets that eliminate food groups, and dramatically lower calorie intake, are often seen as fads with quick results but longterm failure.

We asked registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic to review the Sadkhin method.

"I love the fact that they're encouraging a lot of fruits and vegetables. Most Americans are not getting enough," she said.

But Jamieson-Petonic, who is also president of Nutrition Today with Amy J, told us there is much about Sadkhin that concerns her.

"That's a classic fad diet trend. If you're eliminating any food groups, you're missing a lot of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. For example, if you're not getting enough lean protein, you're not going to get a lot of the protein your muscles need. You're not getting a lot of the nutrients you get from protein," Jamieson-Petonic cautioned.

And what about the tiny metal balls used to help suppress hunger?

"I haven't seen a lot of peer-reviewed research on the benefits of that. I've seen some of the research, where they look at pressure points for health, but nothing specifically related to weight loss," she said.

Reyes understands the skepticism and insists her practice is an open book.

The first tenet is starting a weight loss program is to see your family doctor first. Reyes says the same goes for her clients, especially those with cardiac issues and diabetics.

"You need to see your family doctor first. Tell them about the program. We're not hiding anything here. Tell him what you are going to be eating the next 10 days. Get his blessing to do this program. Let him do a cholesterol panel, check your sugar, make sure that this is good for you," she insists.

The program is not intended for expectant mothers or breastfeeding women.

"They need calories," Reyes said.

No exercise or caffeine for at the least the first 10 days, Reyes tells clients, as their bodies adjust to the significant reduction in calories. She says the milk products offer the body a good source of protein.

"You still need fat and protein in your diet. There are fat and proteins in the fruits and vegetables, but we want to make sure you get some protein in the diet. It's actually a cleansing program too," Reyes added.

Mary Parisi has struggled with her weight all her life. At her heaviest she weighed 275 pounds. As a nurse, Parisi is on her feet and on the go most days. She believes her weight led to extreme foot pain including bones spurs and plantar fasciitis.

"It was just unbearable sometimes to just get out of bed and walk. I'd have to hold onto things to get from Point A to Point B," Parisi said.

She also suffered from headaches, and exhaustion.

Parisi began talking with Reyes about her feet, but she knew all along her weight was the real issue.

"She was talking about the Sadkhin's program she was starting. It seemed like it wouldn't be too difficult, and I figured I'd give that a shot. And I just started from there, " Parisi said.

In the first 10 days, Parisi dropped 9 pounds. She followed the program faithfully from January to October of last year.

In that total time she has lost 80 pounds.

"I used to get headaches all the time. I used to get tired all the time. I had no energy. Now I come home and I have energy to play with my son. We go outside and ride bikes. I can ride all day and not be exhausted. Just overall I feel a whole lot healthier," Parisi said.

When she started Parisi wore size 22 pants that she admits were tight. Today she wears a 14. She hopes to lose a few more pounds but says her foot problems have all but disappeared.

The first few days were difficult, but Parisi says her appetite has remained in check.

You can find more about the Sadkhin Complex here. Location information for the Strongsville office is on the website.
Reyes says the initial fee is currently $89. It costs $59 to have the metal balls readjusted.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic supports a nutrition program that includes a wider variety of high fiber, lean protein sources and healthy fats. She believes these foods help your body feel full, and are the key to a successful weight loss.

To learn more about Jamieson-Petonic 's approach and services, click here.

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