Coleus forskohlii is an herb historically used in Ayurveda (Ayurvedic medicine).
Today, Coleus forskohlii is used as a fat burning supplement.
Forskolin increases cellular levels of a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Elevated cAMP levels are associated with increased rates of fat loss, and can improve the effects of other fat burning compounds.
Forskolin is an active compound found in the roots of the Indian coleus (Coleus forskohlii), a tropical plant related to mint.
For centuries, this plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat various conditions and diseases (2Trusted Source).
Modern scientific research has now shown that some of these health benefits may be true, or at least plausible.
Forskolin is known to activate adenylate cyclase class III (AC-III), an enzyme involved in the regulation of all human cells. The primary function of AC-III is to facilitate the transfer of chemical messages from the outside of the cell to the inside of a cell.
By stimulating AC-III, forskolin is believed to promote weight loss, increase lean muscle and bone mass, and treat diseases like glaucoma and asthma.
Theoretically, forskolin aids in weight loss by helping create enzymes called lipase and adenylate cyclase.
These two enzymes free fatty acids from the body’s cells. When the fatty acids are free, they can be burned as fuel. When the body burns fatty acids, it may reduce fat without affecting lean muscle mass.
Unfortunately, this theory does not consider that for weight loss to happen a calorie deficit must also occur. In other words, a person must burn more calories than they take in through food and drink. If this fails to happen, a person will not lose weight.
So, while forskolin may raise fat burning capabilities, this is irrelevant without a nutritious diet and exercise to support the calorie deficit.
Some research suggests that forskolin may aid in weight loss and muscle building. In one very small study, overweight and obese men took 250 milligrams of a 10% forskolin extract twice a day. After 12 weeks, they lost more body fat and had a greater increase in testosterone levels compared to similar men taking a placebo. But more research must be done to confirm these results and establish its safety.
For this investigation, 30 overweight or obese men were assigned either a forskolin supplement (250 milligrams twice daily) or a placebo.
At the end of the 12-week study, men who took forskolin achieved greater losses in body fat and increases in lean muscle mass compared to the placebo group. They also experienced significant increases in bone mass and testosterone.
Despite the positive findings, the results have not been replicated in other studies. Further research would be needed to establish whether forskolin is the weight-loss remedy many people believe it to be.
Forskolin may have skyrocketed into the public eye after praise for its potential to help people lose weight, but it has other possible uses that scientists are currently studying. These potential uses include the following:
- treating asthma
- treating cancers
- improving heart strength in congestive heart failure
- treating glaucoma
- lowering blood pressure
- stimulating a suntan
Forskolin is a herbal supplement which can be used as a natural remedy for treatment in cancer, obesity, glaucoma, allergies and asthma, heart failure, intestinal spasms, painful cramps during your period (dysmenorrhea), irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infection, high blood pressure (hypertension), chest pain (angina), difficulty falling asleep (insomnia) and convulsions.
Reduces High Blood Pressure
One of forskolin’s most ancient uses is treating heart conditions, such as hypertension. A study done in India found Coleus forskohlii extract to effectively reduce blood pressure in more than 75 percent of the patients tested. This power against high blood pressure probably contributes to forskolin’s accepted use in improving heart health.
May Decrease Risk For Diabetes
Though there is no data that directly shows that forskolin helps in diabetic conditions, it was proposed as a drug to help treat one of the complications of diabetes – diabetic retinopathy .
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high levels of sugar that damage small eye vessels and cause blood to leak into the eye and damage vision.
Forskolin is amazing at increasing energy levels and waking you up, but it may cause liver damage. In a study, Coleus forskohlii root extract with 10% forskolin caused liver injury in mice, increasing markers of liver damage .
It is not known whether taking forskolin is safe, because it has not been thoroughly studied. Some negative reactions to forskolin have been reported. These include:
- Flushing, fast heart beats, and low blood pressure when taken through an IV
- Upper respiratory tract irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness when inhaled
- Stinging of the eyes and enlarging of the blood vessels in the eyes
100-300 mg/day orally of extract containing 10-20% forskolin.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. P. barbatus has been traditionally used as an emmenagogue and oral contraceptive.Lukhoba 2006, Almeida 2000 Forskolin delayed spontaneous meiotic progression in human oocytes in an in vitro fertility study.Shu 2008