If you've been browsing the web for a weight loss supplement, you might have run into the benefits of using forskolin for weight loss sometime in your search.
Praised by TV doctors and nutritionists, forskolin came into the limelight a few years ago as a weight-loss supplement, however, it has been used for centuries in Asian countries such as India, in ayurvedic medicine for heart health, respiratory issues, and gastrointestinal conditions.
When it comes to weight loss, there is no magic pill. And so, research has shown that although forskolin may not have magical fat-burning powers that will give you overnight weight loss results, it can potentially help you to maintain your weight.
But more importantly, forskolin promises some other incredible health benefits that might surprise you.
In this post, we'll discuss the benefits of forskolin for weight loss, but go beyond its popularity as a weight-loss supplement and cover it's many other potential health benefits.
Table of Contents
- What is Forskolin?
- How Does Forskolin Work?
- Why Use Forskolin
- Health Benefits of Forskolin
- Forskolin for Weight Loss
- Forskolin for Glaucoma
- Forskolin for Diabetes
- Forskolin for Heart Health
- Forskolin for Blood Pressure Control
- Forskolin for Asthma and Lung Health
- Forskolin for Cancer
- Forskolin for Skin Health
- Forskolin for Fertility
- Forskolin for Brain Health
- How to Buy Forskolin Supplements
- Key Takeaways
What is Forskolin?
Derived from the root of the Coleus forskohlii plant, a tropical plant which belongs to the mint family, forskolin grows in countries like India, Nepal, Brazil, and certain regions of Africa and Thailand. It has been used as a form of natural medicine for centuries and also goes by the names of Indian coleus, coleus barbatus, borforsin, and forskohlii.
Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, a form of ancient holistic medicine that originated in India over three thousand years ago and focuses on whole-body healing, forskolin has been used to help with heart problems, asthma, convulsions, cuts and burns, treating skin conditions, painful urination, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and more.
How Does Forskolin Work?
Modern research has shown that forskolin plays a vital role in being able to activate an enzyme called adenylate cyclase which produces a "second messenger" in the body known as cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), essential to cellular function.
Second messengers are essentially signaling molecules that help cells decipher how to process signals sent from "first messengers" like hormones, endorphins, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, adrenaline, the growth hormone and more. They are also key players in activating protein kinases (PTKs), enzymes that control the way proteins function in the body.
Essentially acting as translators, second messengers impact a wide range of biological cellular processes in the body.
Here's what the mechanism looks like:
The role of forskolin being able to activate cAMP is important as cAMP is involved in regulating sugar and fat metabolism in the body.
Why Use Forskolin
Forskolin is a fascinating herb in the sense that it activates biological processes in the body that indirectly helps you lose weight as well as provides added benefits.
For example, let's say you're primarily using astaxanthin for eye health, you'll also experience additional whole-body benefits such as healthy hair, glowing skin, joint pain relief, and better immunity.
Similarly, even though you may take forskolin for weight loss, it will influence responses in the body that along with stimulating weight loss will also improve metabolic function and provide other key benefits.
Forskolin also acts as a detoxifying agent in the body — with the high-intensity stress we experience in our fast-paced lives today, levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) are elevated in our body. High cortisol can lead to hormone imbalances, blood pressure irregularities, thyroid dysfunction, and weight gain.
Forskolin works to remove the toxins "blocking the cortisol receptor," allowing it to function better. There have been claims that forskolin may increase cortisol levels, however once the toxins are removed from the body, and the detoxification process is complete, the levels stabilize.
Health Benefits of Forskolin
Forskolin for Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, you may think that forskolin promotes weight loss due to the way it affects glucose and fat metabolism, however, it actually does so due to its ability to remove toxins and excess cortisol which can lead to inflammation and weight gain.
A 2005 study showed that when 30 obese men were given 250 mg of 10% forskolin extract two times a day for 3 months, it helped them "alter body composition while concurrently increasing bone mass." The study concluded that "forskolin is a possible therapeutic agent for the management and treatment of obesity."
The same study also revealed that forskolin has the ability to increase testosterone levels, and that is why the supplement has gained popularity in recent years amongst athletes who use it as part of their workout regimen to increase muscle mass and enhance body composition.
Another study showed that forskolin extract "may aid in weight management." Participants who supplemented with forskolin extract while maintaining a low-calorie diet "significantly improved insulin and insulin resistance," and saw a significant increase in HDL-C (good cholesterol). This is important because insulin controls fat storage and HDL is essential for lower risks of heart disease.
Results from a women-oriented study showed that when the overweight participants supplemented their diet with 250 mg of 10% Coleus Forskohlii (CF) extract or a placebo twice a day for 3 months, CF did not seem to help them lose weight but helped to "mitigate weight gain" with no clinically apparent side effects.
Studies have also shown that cAMP, which affects a variety of biological processes in the body and is activated by forskolin, influences fat storage. Also, when a protein activated by cAMP is missing in the brain, it may affect "the regulation of body weight" and lead to obesity.
When you're trying to lose weight, it's important to remember that in this day and age we are constantly battling toxins from our food, the air, pesticides, infections and more. Over time our bodies protective mechanisms get overworked and this leads to some inflammation always being present in the body.
Using supplements such as forskolin can help in detoxification, decreasing the body's stress response, and reducing inflammation which can ultimately result in losing weight. Also, if you keep your stress levels in check, you'll produce less cortisol and see greater benefits.
Forskolin for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve of the eye. It's a serious eye disorder that if left untreated can cause blurry vision, partial vision loss and even blindness.
Forskolin has long been known to treat glaucoma symptoms, with the most common use being injecting it directly into the eye.
Eye injections of forskolin, homotaurine, and L-carnosine have shown promising results in offering "glaucoma neuroprotection" from retinal ganglion cell (RGC), which is the last straw leading to impaired vision in glaucoma patients.
However, recent research has uncovered that oral forskolin supplementation can also offer surprising benefits by helping to control the eye's "intraocular pressure," or internal fluid pressure. Irregular fluid pressure can cause damage to the eye, and controlling it is the key focus for most conventional glaucoma medications.
A 2012 study showed that oral supplementation of forskolin along with a plant pigment, rutin, showed efficacy in reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) in participants with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) who had responded poorly to all other therapies with their last resort being surgery.
Standard glaucoma treatments in patients today involves the use of eye drops that contain beta-blockers (blood pressure reducing medications) and prostaglandin (fat compounds), that are known to have adverse side effects such as eye itching and burning, fatigue, respiratory infections, weight gain, depression and more.
To discover a safer and better option, researchers found that 1% of forskolin eye drops can be "a safe alternative" to conventional beta-blocker medications in glaucoma patients.
Forskolin has also shown promise in treating diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes damage to the eye's blood vessels due to high blood sugar levels.
The ability of forskolin supplementation to relieve fluid pressure in the eye is exciting news for glaucoma sufferers.
Forskolin for Diabetes
Forskolin or C. forskohlii extract is known to improve insulin resistance and response and the "antioxidant and antiinflammatory action of forskolin" has made it an effective medicine for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and even diabetes.
A 2014 study showed that "administration of forskolin decreased fasting blood glucose levels" in both diabetic and healthy Wistar rats. Although more research is needed to prove its effectiveness, the study did show that it could be used to main blood glucose levels.
Forskolin has also been considered as a drug to treat diabetic retinopathy, a diabetes-induced condition where high levels of glucose in the blood can damage the delicate blood vessels in the eye.
It does this by helping to block the protein GLUT 1 which is essentially a "glucose transporter" and can transport more glucose than needed from the blood to the eye's retina. Research has shown that intraocular injections of forskolin "significantly reduced retinal glucose to the same levels seen in non-diabetics."
Additionally, since forskolin acts as a natural anti-inflammatory it can help to suppress inflammation which can often worsen symptoms of diabetes.
Forskolin for Heart Health
One of the primary benefits of taking forskolin is its ability to activate the second messenger cAMP, as mentioned above. cAMP is responsible for relaxing "smooth muscles." These muscles make up different organs in our bodies such as the heart, the gut, and the lungs.
Forskolin helps to relax heart muscles, which is critically important in the event of a heart attack.
An animal study proposed that NKH477, a derivative of forskolin, helped to reverse cardiac dysfunction associated with chronic heart failure in rats. It proposed that NKH477 can possibly reverse damage in the heart caused by a heart attack.
Another study has also validated the efficacy of NKH477 and its use in the treatment of heart failure.
Forskolin also helps to immobilize Ca2+ into the cells of smooth muscles, helping to prevent muscle contraction and thereby preventing heart attacks.
Forskolin has also been used intravenously (by IV) by healthcare providers in the case of heart failure.
Forskolin for Blood Pressure Control
The heart and blood vessels such as the arteries and veins are made up of smooth muscle. If there is inflammation in these muscles it can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Forskolin's impact on smooth muscle can reduce inflammation and thereby reduce blood pressure.
Research from India revealed that Coleus forskohlii extract helped to reduce "hypertension" or high blood pressure in over 75% of participants. The study concluded that forskolin is an "effective anti-hypertensive" and if patients are administered forskolin "on the early detection of hypertension then the unnecessary use of powerful synthetic drugs, causing a number of adverse effects, can be effectively avoided."
Due to it being a natural relaxant, forskolin can be an effective supplement to boost heart health and maintain blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure-lowering medications, please consult your health provider before taking forskolin.
Forskolin for Asthma and Lung Health
Forskolin has been used traditionally to treat upper respiratory conditions and relieve inflammation. Its role in activating cAMP to relax smooth muscles also extends to the lungs, enabling the relaxation of the lung muscles to facilitate better breathing.
Relaxed smooth muscles improve the lungs' ability to hold more air, dilate the air passages and open up the airways.
If you suffer from asthma which causes inflammation and swelling of the airways, the benefits of forskolin supplementation can be very real.
Standard asthma treatment involves using anti-inflammatory medications, steroidal inhalers or non-steroidal inhalers such as cromoglicic acid.
In one study, asthma patients who took forskolin capsules at 10/mg day had almost 50% fewer asthma attacks than those taking the non-steroidal sodium cromoglycate. The study concluded that forskolin was more effective in "preventing asthma attacks in patients with mild persistent or moderate persistent asthma."
Another study also found no difference in asthma patients being treated with either forskolin or beclomethasone, a common steroidal oral inhaler, indicating that forskolin can be a promising natural and safe treatment for asthma.
Forskolin for Cancer
Forskolin continues to show a lot of promise in cancer treatment and therapy, due to its ability to manipulate cancer cells.
This incredible herb can activate PP2A (protein phosphatase 2), an important enzyme responsible for cellular functions such as accelerated cell division. Forskolin has demonstrated the remarkable ability to antagonize cancer cells, especially leukemia cells, demonstrating "tumor suppressor activity."
When used alongside anti-cancer medications such as Idarubicin and Ara-c, forskolin had a "potent anti-leukemic effect," and aided to enhance the effects of these drugs. PP2A activation is also known to kill cells that cause prostate cancer.
Forskolin has also shown promise in killing multiple myeloma (MM) cells (a type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells in the bone marrow) when used in combination with standard MM treatment.
It also caused cell death in colon cancer by assisting conventional chemotherapy drugs such as oxaliplatin.
Through increasing the activation of cAMP, and triggering protein kinase A (PKA) forskolin has shown promise in inhibiting proliferation and causing "apoptosis" or cell death in tumors of the brain and spinal cord.
It also blocks a protein called Hedgehog which can help to transport cancer cells from one location to another, thereby possibly preventing the spreading of cancerous cells into other organ systems.
Forskolin's ability to activate PP2A and cAMP and block Hedgehog to slow down and curb cancer cell growth gives the supplement a lot of promise as adjunct cancer therapy to standard treatment protocols.
Forskolin for Skin Health
Forskolin has shown some promise when it comes to being used for skin health.
One study demonstrated forskolin's wound healing ability as it aided in migrating skin cells to the site of the wound, thereby assisting in the "wound-healing process."
Electromagnetic radiation in the form of UV (ultra-violet) rays of the sun can be dangerous and can lead to premature aging, damaged skin cells and even lead to melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer.
A 2009 study showed that topical applications of forskolin prior to sun exposure may increase the skin's "ability to repair DNA damage."
This was supported by another study three years later, which looked at forskolin's ability to thicken skin thereby protecting against UV damage. The study concluded that "forskolin-induced epidermal thickening significantly diminished the amount of UV-A and UV-B that passed through whole skin and reduced the amount of UV-B-associated epidermal sunburn cells."
Melanin has been known to naturally protect against UV damage, but forskolin has shown the incredible ability to "protect the skin in ways other than through melanin induction."
Forskolin for Fertility
There have been several studies supporting forskolin's role in influencing both egg and sperm cells.
Forskolin, an adenylate cyclase activator, along with cilostamide, were seen to positively influence ovarian (egg) cells and improve their development.
An animal study has shown that forskolin's activation of cAMP plays a "pivotal role in the regulation of meiosis," a special form of cell division that generates and increases the rate of reproductive "oocyte" or egg cells, and raises the chances of fertilization.
When it comes to male reproduction, when taken in appropriate doses forskolin can raise the production of the male sex hormone, testosterone in the testes. Additionally, forskolin has also demonstrated the ability to raise the levels of cAMP in specific parts of the sperm cell, increasing the probability for it to fertilize an egg cell.
These studies show that forskolin could potentially be used as a natural fertility boosting supplement in both men and women.
Forskolin for Brain Health
Forskolin, a natural supplement that can help to boost cAMP in the brain, is essential for stimulating neurons and triggering neural signaling between cells.
cAMP also supports the process of LTP (long-term potentiation) which strengthens the connections between synapses (the junction between nerve cells or neurons).
Another study revealed that forskolin is a promising "cerebral vasodilator" meaning it has the ability to enlarge the blood vessels in the brain increasing blood flow and facilitating better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells.
A groundbreaking study in 2016 linked to the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that oral administration of forskolin in mice reduced plaque formation and inflammatory activity in the brain.
More importantly, results were observed in "a relatively short term of treatment (10 days)," and mice were seen to have improved "nest construction ability" and better social skills.
The study concluded by affirming that "forskolin shows neuroprotective effects in APP/PS1 Tg mice and may be a promising drug in the treatment of patients with AD."
Forskolin was also effective in improving "memory functions" in rats with dementia induced by a high-fat diet. The 2018 study confirmed the "neuroprotective action of forskolin in dementia."
There have been hundreds of similar studies demonstrating forskolin's effectiveness in boosting memory, strengthening synapses and improving cerebral circulation, making it a promising supplement for supporting brain health.
How to Buy Forskolin Supplements
Forskolin is easily available in most drug stores as an over-the-counter supplement or online. You can find it in powder form, as a lotion or as a supplement. When buying it in supplement form it is imperative to make sure it contains no additives and has 100% forskolin or coleus forskohlii.
Since forskolin is able to detoxify the body from neurotoxins (attached to the cortisol receptor) using it with a detoxification supplement such as organic chlorella can be helpful for the toxins to be effectively eliminated from the body through the process of digestion.
The recommended dosage of forskolin is two capsules at 250mg daily. A combination of a healthy diet and exercise along with the added benefit of forskolin supplements can help you accelerate and reach your weight loss goals faster along with experiencing all the added benefits mentioned above.
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• 100% pure natural formula
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- Extracted from the root of the coleus forskohlii plant, forskolin has been used for centuries to support heart health, respiratory issues, skin conditions and more
- It primarily works by activating an enzyme that produces what is known as cAMP, a signaling molecule that impacts many important cellular processes in the body
- Forskolin removes toxins blocking the cortisol receptor and acts as a potent detoxifying agent in the body
- It helps decrease the body's stress response, influences fat storage, improves insulin resistance, and reduces inflammation supporting weight loss and weight maintenance
- Forskolin has shown promising results in controlling eye fluid pressure and being a safe alternative to standard drugs used to treat glaucoma
- It helps to relax "smooth muscles" making it an excellent natural relaxant for the heart, lungs and gut and a preventative supplement for heart attacks, respiratory and gastrointestinal issues
- Forskolin supplements have also shown a lot of promise as a complementary therapy to standard cancer treatment protocols
- This incredible herb has also proved to be effective for treating skin conditions, improving fertility, controlling diabetes and supporting brain health