Dr. Oz Touts Raspberry Ketone: Where is the Evidence?

Dr. Oz again! Raspberry ketone for weight loss? Where is the evidence?


Raspberry ketone aka frambinone or (4-(4-hydroxyphenyl) butan-2-one) is a chemical compound naturally found in raspberries, as well as other plants. 

Raspberry ketone is that which gives raspberries their unique flavor and aroma.  This compound is both naturally and synthetically produced in the laboratory and is primarily used by the flavor and fragrance industry. It is often added to soft drinks, candy and ice cream for this purpose. 

Topically, raspberry ketone has been shown to have a skin whitening effect and is added to cosmetics for this effect.

Because of its structural similarity to capsaicin (from cayenne pepper) and synephrine (from bitter orange peel) -- two other compounds known to exert anti-obese actions and alter the lipid metabolism -- raspberry ketone has been studied in both animals and in vitro ( test-tube) for these effects. The evidence for this purpose is limited but hopeful.

Recently raspberry ketone was mentioned on the Dr. Oz Show as a weight loss aid. After doing a little investigative work of my own,  I am able to report that raspberry ketone is lacking in human studies.

The few studies that I found were on animals and in vitro (in a test tube). In one small study, mice fed a high fat diet received either 0.5 percent, 1 percent or 2 percent of their diet as raspberry ketone -- this was fed intragastrically (directly into the stomach through a feeding tube) for 10 weeks.

Compared to mice not fed the raspberry ketone, the experimental mice showed evidence of improved insulin sensitivity.

In vitro, raspberry ketone was found to increase both the expression and the secretion of adiponectin, an adipocytokine (fat cell hormone) mainly expressed and secreted by adipose (fat) tissue.

In addition, treatment with raspberry ketone increased fatty acid oxidation ("fat burning") and suppressed fat accumulation in fat cells.

Lipolysis is the process by which fats are broken down so they can be used for fuel. A lipolytic is a substance which increases the rate of lipolysis.

In a comparison of raspberry ketone to eight different kinds of citrus peel extracts, citrus peels showed a more profound lipolytic effect. 

Of  the compounds tested, limonene showed the third highest lipolytic activity.  D-limonene from orange peel is widely available as an effective and clinically tested remedy for heartburn in many natural food stores.  This product may therefore be even more effective for fat-burning than raspberry ketone, according to this study.

While there seems to be only hopeful, limited evidence for this natural compound as a weight loss aid,  I could find no evidence of any toxicity and it is apparently safe.

Time will tell if human studies will confirm the limited data that is available on this substance to date.

As a final note, given the research above, I would guess that drinking plenty of water with lemon juice (a rich source of limonene) would give the same lipolytic effect. It would certainly be a more cost effective solution.


Alison Birks is a nutritionist with New Morning Market in Woodbury. Her profile page on New Morning's website contains additional nutritional information, recipes and a list of classes she teaches.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Claudine Collet February 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Thank you Alison, as usual you are articulate, informative and thorough. These are all good things to know. Maybe in the future Dr. Oz could give a heads up to stores and folks in the health sector by creating a relationship to selling his product as opposed to sensational recommendations leading to mass inquiries that can't be fulfilled by healthfood stores he recommends going to to find his product.
Linda Ambrosino February 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Will this affect my blood sugar. I am doing the Atkins diet and losing weight already.
Jaimie Cura February 11, 2012 at 07:41 AM
Hi Linda - I sent Alison Birks an e-mail with your question. In the meantime, here is a link I found with more information, as I'm definitely not an expert in these matters: http://www.everydayhealth.com/weight/0209/dr-ozs-miracle-fat-burner-raspberry-ketone-does-it-work.aspx In the article, a pharmacist was interviewed who said she would not recommend raspberry ketone to people with diabetes and encourage them to speak with their doctor, because of the risk of blood sugar fluctuations. She noted in the article that norepinephrine can have effects on blood pressure and heart rate. Hope that helps!
Alison Birks February 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Hi Linda I don't think enough is known about how this supplement will affect human health. It could possibly lead to blood sugar fluctuations--if you are already losing weight there is no reason to use it.


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