If you’re wondering what all the buzz about raspberry ketones is about, it appears Dr. Oz can do what Oprah used to do. Dr. Oz has recently touted raspberry ketones on his show as the new “miracle fat burner in a bottle”. He claims that taking 100mg at breakfast will help you burn fat and as a result, raspberry ketones are flying off the shelves. This article will try to answer what are raspberry ketones and do raspberry ketones work. You’ll read more on this below, but according to the May 2012 issue of The Pharmacists Letter (a well respected monthly newsletter for pharmacists), all pharmacists are advised to advise patients to steer clear of raspberry ketone supplements.
What Are Raspberry Ketones?
Raspberry ketones are what actually gives a raspberry its smell. Raspberry ketones have been used as a chemical additive in perfumes and cosmetics for quite some time as a fragrance agent. Its official chemical name is 4(-4-Hydroxyphenyl)butan-2-one and more commonly known as Frambinone, Oxyphenylon, Rheosmin and Rasketone. It’s sweet fruity aroma make it an attractive to use in products. Raspberry ketones are really only found in trace amounts in raspberries (less than 0.1%), which makes the natural version of the ketone too costly to use in supplements which means any raspberry ketone that is actually used in a supplement would rarely come from the actual raspberry and more-than-likely come from a product synthesized in the lab.
Synthesized raspberry ketone is really cheap – costing only a few bucks per pound. Ironically, this does not drive the price of the supplement down eventhough a large bottle contains just pennies of actual, pure raspberry ketone. This should raise a red flag as it implies that the supplement companies are raking in a huge profit by creating a cheap clone of the raspberry ketone compound.
Do Raspberry Ketones Work? And Are Raspberry Ketones Safe?
According to the May 2012 issue of The Pharmacist’s Letter, raspberry ketones are purported to help weight loss by increasing lipid metabolism. However, this has been shown in lab animals…not humans! The Pharmacists Letter also goes on to state that safety is also a concern because the higher dosages of raspberry ketones have not even been tested in humans and reports are coming in of palpitations and reduced warfarin effects in patients who were taking raspberry ketone products. The Pharmacists Letter advises all pharmacists to advise patients to steer clear of raspberry ketone supplements.
Raspberry ketones have a chemical structure similar to synephrine (which is a weight-loss drug and used as an alternative to ephedrine – which has been taken off the market due to harmful side effects). According to Wikipedia: Many diet products such as “Stacker 2″, “Xenadrine-EFX”, etc. contain a “stack” of synephrine along with caffeine, sometimes with an NSAID. Some reports have indicated that such diet pills cause numerous harmful effects. The Mayo Clinic published a report that suggested a link between Stacker 2 pills and increased risk of ischemic stroke, increased blood pressure, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Synephrine can also cause arrhythmias. It is similar to ephedrine and can therefore show similar symptoms. Read the full wikipedia page on synephrine here. Synephrine can also be found in supplements such as Bitter Orange. Bitter Orange can cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate. There has been no evidence to show that Bitter Orange is any safer than ephedrine.
Due to the nature of this supplement, it does not require FDA approval nor scientific backing to support the fat-loss claims. And as stated above, all of the studies had a serious shortcoming: They involved rodents or cells in test tubes, not people! To me this is a definite deal-breaker! Many weight-loss supplements look great in the lab, but don’t actually work in the real-world – mainly due to poor nutrition and lack of exercise!
The Dr. Oz television segment featured before-and-after pictures of women who said they lost significant weight while taking raspberry ketone supplements. But Oz noted that the women had also dieted and worked out. The Dr. Oz website says that raspberry ketones work best “when paired with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet.” Imagine that! I’m guessing I could lose weight eating a snickers bar if I paired it with regular diet and exercise.
In summary, I would steer clear of raspberry ketones as recommended in The Pharmacists Letter. There have been no trials done on humans to support the claims and the only way they’ve been shown to work is when paired with diet and exercise. So, if you’re considering raspberry ketones, it is probably best to start with diet and exercise first and see where that gets you – odds are you’ll lose weight and save some cash by not purchasing the next “miracle” fat burner.