Forskolin (coleus forskohlii) is a naturally occurring herbal substance that has seen recent popularity as a fat loss and muscle-building supplement. Pure forskolin (bioactive labdane diterpene) is an extract and herbal ingredient derived from the Plectranthus Barbatus/Lamiaceae root.
Where Does Forskolin Come From?
Coleus forskohlii is part of the mint family and is native to subtropical Asia and Africa. In certain cultures, its roots are made into sour pickles and served in Indian and other Asian dishes.
What Are Forskolin’s Traditional Medicinal Uses?
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, forskolin has been culturally and medicinally important for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits along with other diverse pharmacological uses, such as:
- Digestive and other gastrointestinal disorders
- Cough and other respiratory issues
- Circulatory and cardiovascular issues
- Central nervous system conditions
- Skin problems such as infections, eczema, and boils
- Rheumatism and body aches, pains, and stiffness
As with all herbs, coleus contains many active compounds—but the roots contain the most potent ingredient, which is what we know as forskolin. Forskolin is believed the have the most beneficial value of all the substances derived from the coleus plant.
What Makes Forskolin a Fat-Burning Compound?
Forskolin has been studied for its ability to control, activate, and regulate adenylate cyclase and to encourage the production of cyclic AMP, otherwise known as cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cAMP, the fat-burning catalyst to the chemical ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Cyclic AMP is widely known to control and regulate adenylate cyclase, one of the enzymes related to positive glycogen functions and beneficial lipid metabolism. Adenylate cyclase also stimulates cAMP (cyclic AMP) production.
In testament to its fat-burning reputation, forskolin has been used in experimental clinical research to effectively increase the compound cAMP.
What Else are Forskolin and Cyclic AMP Known For?
Cyclic AMP as related to adenosine triphosphate has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, and is known for providing the following benefits:
- Positive inotropic heart action
- Prevents platelet aggregation
- Lung health and bronchodilation
Of course, the most widely known benefit of forskolin is that it activates cellular adenylate cyclase, which can stimulate the hormones that activate fat burning within the body.
Studies have found that forskolin (and related cAMP) is a catalyst for lipolysis, which is the break down of fat in fat cells. Researches have discovered that many obese and overweight people have very low levels of cAMP production, and since forskolin increases cAMP production, it is logically considered to be a potential benefit for weight loss—especially in cases where levels of cAMP are abnormally low, and increasing the levels would improve lipolysis.
How Much Forskolin Should I Take?
Health supplement professionals recommend a starting dosage of no more than 25 to 60 mg per day for most people to allow the body to get accustomed to the extract. There are several forskolin weight loss supplements on the market in the 125-250mg range, but most health supplement professionals recommend starting low when trying a weight loss supplement for the first time. Many bodybuilders take ultra high dosages of forskolin at 250mg twice per day, 15-20 minutes prior to meals. As when starting any supplement protocol, consult with your doctor.
The most important consideration is to be sure that the supplement you are buying is a pure, natural extract without any fillers, additives, or other compounds. Health professionals recommend that when looking for forskolin for weight loss, try to find a supplement that has at least 20% pure forskolin extract.
Before taking any weight loss supplement, be sure that it isn’t contraindicated and that you aren’t susceptible to any of the known side effects.
Is Forskolin Safe? Does It Have Any Side Effects?
Coleus forskohlii forskolin extract was awarded the ‘No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL)’ by the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Research in December 2015 for amounts taken within the recommended daily dosage. You can read the IJPPR report here.
Forskohlii extract of 150mg per day has been shown to lower blood pressure, which is one of its traditional Ayurvedic uses—so people with hypotension or low blood pressure should avoid it. Certain users have experienced nausea and light-headedness. It is also known to cause diarrhea, so those who take forskolin should pay special attention to staying hydrated until their bodies acclimate to the supplement.
If you’re looking for an all-natural weight loss supplement with few side effects, forskolin appears to show promise. As always, consult with your doctor before beginning a supplement or weight loss regimen.