What are raspberry ketones and how do they work? Raspberry ketones are a natural compound that is the primary aroma compound of red raspberries. They are used in perfumery, cosmetics, and also as a food additive (the ketones impart a fruity odor when added to food). In addition, Dr Mehmet Oz has promoted them on his popular television show as an effective weight loss supplement, particularly when combined with adequate nutrition and proper exercise.
Most raspberry ketone available today is chemically manufactured because the natural abundance of this compound is quite low. Even Dr Oz mentioned that it would take up to 90 pounds of fresh berries to get the recommended amount of the compound.
Clinical studies have been performed on mice and rats, with the mice being given an extremely high does (up to 2% of their body weight). This high dosage has been shown to prevent elevations in body weight due to a high fat diet, but the same results were not achieved with testing on the rats. Additionally, the results achieved with the mice have not yet been replicated with humans.
Some manufacturers are touting the topical use of raspberry ketones as a weight loss aid, but there is no reliable clinical proof that this type of treatment is effective.
The compound apparently works by speeding up the metabolism, boosting the breaking up of fat cells, and increasing the production of a hormone called adiponectin. Adiponectin regulates the processing of both sugars and fats in the blood. It’s suggested that adiponectin may play a major role in insulin resistance and controlling diabetes.
Raspberry ketone itself stimulates the release of norepinephrine, which is a powerful hormone that directs the breaking up of the fat cells. As the fat cells break up, they produce fatty acids which the liver then converts into ketones.
Norepinephrine is already known to be associated with increased blood pressure and increased heart rate, so those with cardiac issues or already having high blood pressure shouldn’t take the raspberry ketones without first consulting with their doctors or other medical professionals. There are other health issues that may preclude the use of raspberry ketone as well, including diabetes, depression, or asthma. Again, it’s wise to check with your doctor or other medical professional before starting the use of any weight loss supplement or over the counter medication particularly if you have pre-existing conditions.
There are other uses for raspberry ketone as well. A Japanese study that lasted for five months found that a topical compound of raspberry ketone grew hair on the scalp and face of half of the study participants. Additionally, this study found that using topical raspberry ketone (not the pills or capsules) improved the skin elasticity of the cheeks of five women in as little as two weeks. These results need to be taken with a grain of salt though because of the relatively small size of the study groups.
Additionally, the use of raspberry ketones for weight loss needs to be combined with proper diet and adequate exercise in order to achieve the full benefits.