The raspberry ketones frenzy has generated so many hits on her website that it has become the most-searched topic. She also devoted one of her columns for the website DietsInReview.com to criticizing the hype surrounding raspberry ketones.
Raspberry ketones are appealing because they "smell nice" and packaging featuring pictures of raspberries looks "so fresh and wholesome," she said. Plus, the term "ketone" has powerful associations with popular low-carb regimens like the Atkins Diet, which forces your body to burn its own fat for fuel and produces ketones.
"There is no magic bullet for weight loss," said registered dietitian Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor at Boston University. "People are spending billions of dollars on the next miracle pill or patch or cream. One of the best-kept secrets, depending on your health insurance and medical condition, is you could possibly be a co-pay away … from sitting down with a nutrition expert and having that person map out a healthy weight-loss plan that is going to not only take it off, but keep it off."
Supplement makers haven't been able to keep up with demand generated by "The Dr. Oz Show." Bottles were "flying off the shelf" in Augusta, Kan., according to a pharmacist-written item in the Augusta Gazette. In Canada, The Star reported a run on the capsules in the Toronto area. Television stations have reported on local scrambles to find a bottle.
The TV buzz about raspberry ketones brought new players into the marketplace. Pure Health of Austin, Texas, on March 21 announced the launch of its "100 percent pure Red Raspberry Ketone capsule supplement," with the phrase "as seen recently on a major national TV show." Golden Essence Skincare of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 31 announced the launch of its Raspberry Ketone Diet Body Lotion "to help burn fat without the need for pills," although no studies have been done on topical use.
The compound from the red raspberry (Rubus ideaus) stimulates the release of norepinephrine, a powerful brain-signaling hormone, which in turn causes fat cells to break down. The breakdown of fat cells produces fatty acids that the liver then converts into ketones. Because the release of norepinephrine is associated with increased heart rate and blood pressure, some of the more than 1,400 comments posted on the Dr. Oz show website included questions about whether the supplement might pose any risks for people with underlying cardiac conditions.
Manufacturers of raspberry ketones note that they are among dietary ingredients that the FDA characterizes as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Tamara Ward, an FDA spokeswoman, did not return a call Wednesday requesting comment.
If raspberry ketones don't end up melting away the pounds, they may work other miracles on the hair and skin.
Raspberry ketone applied to the scalp and facial skin for five months grew hair on half of a small group of bald people, Japanese researchers reported in 2008. They also found that after just two weeks, topical raspberry ketone improved skin elasticity in the cheeks of five women.