THE BLOG
12/03/2012 05:54 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2013

What's the Rave With Raspberry Ketone?

I am a physician who utilizes herbs and natural medicines in my practice, helping patients lose weight and improve their health. Testing for deficiencies, and addressing them using herbs under close supervision by a physician who understands them, can help a person lose and maintain weight as they follow the diet that is right for their own metabolism. Improvement in overall well-being can be impressive, but the results seen by carefully applying these natural medicines under the supervised care of a medical professional are not likely to be duplicated at home using an "every-man's" supplement such as raspberry ketone. Without addressing your unique metabolic issues, something that only your doctor can identify and treat properly, the miracle results used to promote these supplements are not likely to materialize.

In case you are unfamiliar with raspberry ketone -- a major aromatic compound contained in raspberries -- or even if you are, here's a quick breakdown. The chemical structure of the compound shares some similarities with synephrine, which is a stimulant, a quality being looked at continuously for weight loss. The studies I have reviewed, which I'll share with you shortly, were conducted on mice, not humans, and produced varied results. In animals, ingesting raspberry ketones in accordance with a high-fat diet reduced weight gain as well as visceral fat and liver triglyceride content. In short, this means that the mice that ingested raspberry ketones were shown to be resistant to gaining weight, and also saw loss of body fat and lower levels of fat in their liver. Given the findings of these particular studies, it is thought that raspberry ketone might increase metabolism in humans by helping to accelerate breakdown of fat.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Laura Johannes points out that there are no major human studies to support the idea that raspberries hold the secrets to weight loss.

Maybe it's all this talk about mice, and I believe Ms. Johannes would agree -- I smell a rat. This supplement became quite popular after a Dr. Oz Show segment titled "Raspberry Ketone: Miracle Fat-Burner in a Bottle." Although he's a brilliant crusader for health, I couldn't help but feel that a lot of what was implied in Dr. Oz's segment was really just hype. Given my real-world clinical experience, I was left feeling that it is very unlikely that results would be as miraculous as stated when humans use this supplement. I have seen plenty of new patients to my practice who have tried raspberry ketones as a means to accelerate weight loss, and each has been underwhelmed by the "results" they experienced -- or, more appropriately, didn't experience.

There have also been concerns about stimulant side effects. As a matter of fact, side effects such as heart palpitations and feeling shaky have been reported. Additionally, raspberry ketone can have a negative interaction with the blood thinner Coumadin, which people take for heart or clotting conditions. Most importantly, however, no reliable clinical research has evaluated this supplement for safety or adverse reactions.

Finding the right meal plan that takes into account calories, portion size, the right amount of lean protein, and a controlled carbohydrate and fat content is what produces real weight loss. It is also critical that this meal plan is one that you enjoy and can stick with for the long term. This is a stark contrast to fad and fasting diets that people jump on and off, and which lead to short-term weight loss and long-term frustration. Preparation of such a meal plan takes time, effort, and skill, but there is one thing that has been proven time and time again -- that it works.

I stand for the belief that all people can improve and transform their well-being through proper nutrition. Raspberry ketone, after future analysis and study, could be found to play a role in weight loss. Until then, I encourage people to concentrate their efforts on the methods that have been proven to work for millions of Americans who struggle with a sluggish metabolism and weight gain.

I'd like to hear from you. Would you try raspberry ketone?

For more by Caroline J. Cederquist, M.D., click here.

For more on weight loss, click here.