Healthy Living

Does Forskolin Really Work?

Does Forskolin Really Work?

Key Takeaways

  • Forskolin is commonly used to lose weight, increase testosterone levels in men, build lean muscle mass and treat a number of other health issues such as digestive disorders, heart problems and hypertension.
  • Forskolin should be consumed approximately 15-20 minutes prior to having meals and is also said to curb appetite.
  • Do not take Forskolin supplements if you have Polycystic Kidney Disease or any underlying medical condition as some drugs can interact with Forskolin, making your condition worse.

Weight loss is creating a huge buzz in the healthcare industry. Many people are looking for ways to lose their weight and achieve fitness. From crash diets to vigorous exercising and expensive gym sessions, we leave no stone unturned to get our body in its best shape.

Forskolin is one such supplement that is touted to be an effective treatment for weight loss. In this article, we will take a closer look to understand what is Forskolin extract, where to find it, its positive effects and the side effects as well.

What is Forskolin?

Forskolin is a naturally occurring compound present in the root of Coleus Forskohlii, which is a botanical herb from the mint family with purple flowers. This herb holds a significant position in traditional Indian Ayurveda and is being used for centuries to treat numerous health illnesses such as digestive disorders, heart problems and hypertension.

Today, Forskolin is available in the form of a supplement. It is majorly used to lose weight, increase testosterone levels in men, build lean muscle mass, and solve several other health issues too. Coleus Forskohlii grows in India, Nepal and Thailand.

Like other herbs, Coleus comprises of a number of active compounds. However, it is the tuberous roots of this herb that contain the most beneficial active ingredient of Forskolin. It is greatly used in clinical research experiments as a positive control to effectively augment the levels of cAMP, the vital cellular messenger compound. Some patients are also given Forskolin  through IV, in powder form or as eye drops to treat a range of other health conditions.

Researchers have shown that Forskolin extract is effective in offering weight loss assistance to some extent. The use of this supplement in western culture is relatively new. Often marketed as weight loss pills, Forskolin’s popularity is growing with each passing day. This supplement, in most of the cases, is safe to use because it has reported very few side effects. However, calling this supplement as a ‘miracle’ weight loss remedy is still a questionable thing. Moreover, very little evidence is available to support its use for the treatment of any health condition.

Forskolin for Weight Loss

Forskolin supplements are quite in trend these days mainly because they are known to help you lose weight. You might have seen articles on the Internet titled “Loose 10 pounds or more in one week with this miracle supplement” or something like that. So, you can say that there are many assertions online claiming that taking Forskolin helps you lose weight in a very short period.

According to some studies, Forskolin does help in weight loss and also promotes lean muscle building. For example, an experiment was carried out at the University of Kansas in which obese and overweight men took 250 milligrams of a 10% Forskolin extract two times a day. After 12 weeks, they saw a reduction in their body fat. They also reported a significant increase in their testosterone levels as compared to those men who were taking a placebo. In fact, they lost more than 7.8 times body fat, reported an increase in their bioavailable free testosterone level by approx. 34% and received 35% more bone mass. The study concluded that 50 mg of Forskolin, when taken in a day can show a great improvement in both testosterone levels and body composition, as compared to those who consumed a placebo.

However, there is very little research that confirms these results and proves its safety.

What does Forskolin Do?

Forskolin, in the supplement form, is mainly used to promote the weight loss and fat burning process in the body. It is also used to increase energy levels but is also known for controlling blood pressure, improving digestion and increasing testosterone levels.

Forskolin is so effective because it has the ability to directly and quickly stimulate enzymes like adenylyl cyclase, thus affecting the concentration of cAMP significantly. This compound can activate several other enzymes within a range of cells and tissues. It is also indirectly involved in several other cellular functions.

However, what makes Forskolin a unique supplement is that its effects on cAMP levels are reversible. It works independently, with no contribution from other cellular receptors, unlike other popular fat burners such as ephedrine that use other cellular receptors like beta adrenoreceptors.

Other Benefits of Forskolin

  • Treats Asthma: Forskolin has also been used as a folk remedy for treating asthma. According to some researches, this supplement works like certain types of conventional asthma drugs. It increases the levels of a compound called cAMP and provides relaxation to the muscles around the bronchial tubes to support breathing and improve the condition of asthma patients.
  • Treats Glaucoma: Forskolin can also be used to treat glaucoma. Studies have shown that Forskolin may help relieve pressure in the eyes, which is a common symptom of glaucoma. It also acts as a safe alternative to beta blockers in glaucoma patients suffering from concomitant asthma.
  • Improves Heart Function: This supplement is also helpful for people with idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure. A study suggests that patients who consumed Forskolin, through an IV, showed an improvement in the heart function.
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure: Forskolin can be used to treat high blood pressure also known as hypertension. A study conducted in India showed that more than 75% of the patients studied who took Coleus Forskohlii reported a significant reduction in blood pressure. This is the reason why Forskolin is effectively used in improving heart health.
  • Helps Treat Cancer: Forskolin is known for activating protein phosphatase 2 (PP2A), an enzyme that causes rapid rates of cell division. A study by University of Madrid in 2011 showed that the activation of the PP2A enzyme by Forskolin had anti-tumor effects on rectal cancer tumors, hence inhibiting their further growth. The study concluded that Forskolin may have positive effects on slowing or inhibiting the tumor growth, depending on the type of rectal cancer a patient is having.Many studies indicate that Forskolin can cause cell death (apoptosis) in multiple myeloma cancer cells. In addition to that, it also reduces the negative effects caused by the treatments, when taken in conjunction with common chemotherapy drugs.

What Is the Dosage of Forskolin and How Should you Take It?

The right dosage of Forskolin has not been confirmed for any condition. Like other supplements, the quality of its active ingredients and their level of concentration vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, the optimal dosage of Forskolin is 100-250 mg of Coleus forskohlii (10% forskolin supplement), twice a day. This dosage is known to improve free testosterone in men and reduce body fat. It is still recommended that Forskolin should be taken only under the supervision of an expert healthcare professional.

Just like other health supplements with active ingredients, Forskolin should also be consumed approximately 15-20 minutes prior to having meals. Some studies also indicate that taking supplements this way also helps curb appetite. Since Forskolin is known for increasing cAMP, taking it prior to workouts could result in improved exercise performance and increased muscle contractions.

Where to Buy Forskolin?

Many people question if they should consume Forskolin naturally or the Forskolin supplement. Well, while Forskolin does come from an herb, it is only studied and consumed as an extract. There is no evidence that suggests the availability of Forskolin and its potential benefits from the whole herb. So you can only buy Forskolin extract supplements from drug stores.

Make sure to buy real US manufactured & verified Forskolin extract from genuine stores and brands. There are several online stores as well that sell Forskolin supplements. Do your own research and go for a trustworthy brand that holds a good reputation of selling supplements.

What Are the Side Effects of Forskolin?

Since Forskolin has not been studied thoroughly, it is difficult to conclude whether it is safe to use or not. While, it is usually considered safe by some researchers, some negative reactions to Forskolin have also been reported by some people. These include:

  • Rapid, elevated heart rate 
    Consumption of Forskolin may elevate your normal heart rate. This is a potential side effect which is also referred to as Tachycardia. With the sudden increase of your heart rate, you may experience lightheadedness, shortness of breathchest pain, heart palpitation, rapid pulse, or even fainting.
    Some serious complications linked to Tachycardia include heart failure, frequent unconsciousness, blood clots, or sudden death. Hence, if you experience any heart-related side-effects while taking Forskolin, consult your doctor.
  • Low blood pressure
    According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, consumption of Forskolin may also result in the lowering of your blood pressure. Also called hypotension, this potentially dangerous side effect may induce blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, pale skin, diminished concentration, fatigue or fainting.
    After taking Forskolin extract supplements, if you experience any side effects, you may be at risk of getting an injury from trips or falls. A severe decrease in blood pressure levels may also prevent the crucial organs of your body from getting the oxygen they require to function properly. As a result, severe low blood pressure may cause permanent damage to the brain or heart. If you experience recurrent symptoms of hypotension after taking Forskolin, call your physician immediately to receive appropriate treatment.
  • Increased Stomach Acid Levels
    Forskolin may increase stomach acid levels in your body. Some of the common symptoms associated with this side-effect include indigestion, heartburn and nausea. These side-effects are mainly dangerous for people who are already suffering from gastrointestinal health issues, such as a stomach ulcer. Hence, if you have stomach ulcers, it’s better to avoid taking this supplement.
  • Drug Interactions
    Forskolin is not recommended for people who have been prescribed blood thinners or anti-platelet drugs as it may increase your risk of having bleeding complications.Certain high blood pressure drugs may also interfere with Forskolin, including:
    • Calcium channel blockers
    • Beta-blockers
    • Hydralazine
    • Clonidine

        If you take any of the above-mentioned medications, avoid taking Forskolin. You should also avoid this supplement if you have polycystic kidney      disease. Its safety, effects and side-effects in pregnant and breastfeeding women are also not known, so they should refrain from taking it.

Some other side-effects of Forskolin supplement include:

  • Headache
  • Enlargement of the blood vessels in the eyes and stinging of the eyes
  • Upper respiratory tract irritation, tremor, restlessness and cough when inhaled

In short, before taking Forskolin or any other dietary supplement, make sure to talk to your doctor about potential risks and side-effects.

The Conclusion

It is true that Forskolin extract is helpful in treating a number of health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, glaucoma and more. It does aid in weight loss as suggested by some studies. However, it is still a controversial weight loss compound. It is becoming quite popular these days for its positive results in weight loss, but it still needs a strong scientific evidence to improve its worth for weight loss.

So it’s up to you whether you want to give it a try or not. If you want to lose weight faster, it’s better to combine these supplements with a healthy diet and exercise routine. These supplements cannot replace a healthy diet or fitness routine, but can support your efforts. Make sure to consult with your doctor before taking it. He will suggest the right dosage for you based on your need and overall condition of your health. Especially, if you have any underlying medical condition, it is imperative to consult your doctor first to avoid any potential side-effects.

While it usually does not have any side-effects, some do experience adverse conditions as mentioned in this article. Since prevention is always better than cure, do not take Forskolin extract supplement if you already have other illness that can make your condition worse. Some drugs, as mentioned above, can also interact with Forskolin, so keep an account of this thing.