What is Forskolin?
Forskolin is a chemical that is extracted from the roots of the Indian Coleus (Coleus Forskohlii) plant. The plant itself is a tropical perennial herb from the Mint (Lamiaceae) family and is native to India and East Africa. It is an ornamental plant with very colourful leaves. Forskolin is a type of Labdane Diterpene chemical compound, which is known to have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antiprotozoal activities.
What are the Health Benefits of Forskolin?
The plant Coleus Forskohlii has been used for centuries to treat respiratory disorders like asthma, chest pain associated with heart problems, and high blood pressure. Forskolin appears to help activate an enzyme called adenylate cyclase which raises the amount of cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate (cyclic AMP) in living cells. Cyclic AMP is a vital cell-regulating compound and is involved in a variety of cellular activities. Over the past few years, the medicinal uses of Forskolin have increased and it is now being used to treat allergies, Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), bladder infections, skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rashes, obesity, menstrual cramps, blood clots, erectile dysfunction in men, sleep disorders, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 1.
Home Remedies Using Forskolin
Forskolin is a popular remedy for weight loss since it acts as an effective fat burner by promoting the breakdown of stored fats in fat cells. It works by stimulating lipolysis and by increasing cyclic AMP levels. The synthesis of cyclic AMP in fat cells triggers a chain of events that leads to hydrolysis of stored triglycerides, which subsequently releases free fatty acids and glycerol from fat cells 2.
Researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine found that cyclic AMP levels were lower in many obese people. This suggests that Forskolin might be effective for weight loss especially for people who suffer from impaired cyclic AMP production. A recent study concludes that Forskolin may be a safe and useful adjunct for weight loss and for maintenance of normal body composition 3.
Forskolin has also become a popular supplement for body-builders and athletes since it helps to release fatty acids from adipose tissue. This results in a loss of body fat and an increase in lean body mass. Also, unlike many other central nervous system stimulants, Forskolin does not appear to have undesirable side effects such as nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, or seizures.
A recommended weight loss remedy is to take 250 mg capsules of Forskolin twice daily for 12 weeks.
A decrease in cyclic AMP in bronchial smooth muscle can cause contractions in the bronchial passageways which may trigger symptoms of asthma. Since Forskolin helps increase cyclic AMP production, a recent study suggests Forskolin may be more effective at suppressing symptoms of asthma than other nutraceuticals 6. The study suggests that taking 10 mg of Forskolin once daily for 2 to 6 months may help patients suffering from asthma by increasing the production of cAMP.
High Blood Pressure and Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition that affects the pumping power of heart muscles. Reportedly, Forskolin helps strengthen cardiac muscles and widents blood vessels which helps produce a more powerful heartbeat. It also helps lower blood pressure levels by reducing resistance to blood flow. Therefore, taking one Forskolin capsule containing 10% Forskolin extract designed may help treat both CHF and high blood pressure.
Eye Problems and Glaucoma
Forskolin drops are used in the treatment of ocular hypertension, and IOP (Intraocular Pressure) or glaucoma. A study suggests that using 2 drops of Forskolin 1% eye drops 3 times daily may be a safe alternative to beta blockers in glaucoma patients to help reduce pressure on the eyes4.
Psoriasis is caused by uncontrolled cellular proliferation and division, and increased levels of a cell regulator cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) which overrides and dominates cyclic AMP. Forskolin may normalize the balance between cGMP and cAMP, thus normalizing cell proliferation and division. Therefore taking 1 capsule of Forskolin daily may help treat psoriasis symptoms.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Early research suggests that Forskolin may improve sexual function in men suffering from Erectile Dysfunction. Therefore, taking a 250mg capsule of Forskolin daily may be beneficial 7.
An experimental study suggests that Forskolin may help increase the production of thyroid hormones and stimulate their release when required. Due to its ability to normalize thyroid function, Forskolin may also facilitate weight loss by improving your metabolic rate. A daily 250 mg capsule of forskolin supplement may be beneficial for treating hypothyroidism.
Individuals with symptoms of depression are known to have reduced levels of cyclic AMP. Since Forskolin raises levels of cyclic AMP, there is evidence that it may help elevate mood levels 5. A suggested remedy for depression is to therefore take one 250mg capsule of Forskolin daily.
What are the Side Effects of Forskolin?
Forskolin is non-toxic and is considered safe when used in moderation. If you notice any unusual side effects, discontinue use and consult your doctor. Like any other natural or herbal product, caution should also be exercised when taken in combination with other herbal or allopathic medicine.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the use of Forskolin since there is not enough reliable information regarding the safety of taking it during pregnancy or while lactating. Forskolin is not recommended if you have polycystic kidney disease.
Since Forskolin can lower blood pressure, you should monitor your blood pressure levels during its use. Forskolin may cause headache due to low blood pressure and increased blood flow to the brain. Therefore, caffeine is used to alleviate these headaches since it helps contract the dilated blood vessels. Additionally, if you are currently taking Epinephrine or any medication to treat low or high blood pressure, Forskolin should be avoided as it may interfere with the medication.
Forskolin should be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to any kind of surgery to avoid the risk of bleeding, since it promotes blood flow. It should also be avoided if you are currently taking any blood thinning medication.
How and Where to Buy Forskolin?
Forskolin can be purchased at most herbal food stores or online. When buying Forskolin look for a product which is standardized to 10%-20% of Forskolin in 250 mg capsules/tablets.