Best Forskolin Supplements and Benefits

Benefits of ForskolinForskolin has been boasted as a magical weight-loss, hormone balancing herbal supplement that can burn fat and boost testosterone. If you feel like you’ve heard this all before, chances are you have – it’s the same familiar story behind hundreds of herbal remedies touted as weight loss miracles.

Here’s the catch – there is some truth behind this one.

Forskolin is an extract from the root of Plectranthus barbatus (aka Coleus Forskohlii), a type of mint native to East Africa and India. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners prescribe the root of the herb for treatment of many conditions including high blood pressure, stomach acid issues, and insomnia [1].

In western medicine, forskolin is often used in laboratory experiments on cellular physiology. It can boost cyclic AMP (cAMP), a molecular secondary messenger that is essential for thousands of cellular reactions [2].

Translation: it improves cell signalling and can stimulate cells to do more of whatever it is they do. Because of this cAMP-boosting activity, forskolin has been gaining attention as a potential weight loss therapy.


Forskolin for Weight Loss

Forskolin raises cellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) [2] which in turn boosts levels of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). With high levels of HSL, the body uses triglycerides (fats) as fuel. In short, forskolin can stimulate the release of fats from fat cells, using the body’s stored fats as fuel.

This is a familiar story, right? Most fat burning supplements work this way, but forskolin is a little different. It is one of the few compounds that stimulates cAMP without triggering adrenal receptors as well.

Caffeine, ephedrine, Garcinia and many other weight loss supplements hit adrenergic receptors hard, giving you the feeling that you’ve just pumped out a lot of adrenaline – increased heart-rate, sky-rocketing blood pressure, heart palpitations, and even tremors and anxiety. The worst part of taking these weight loss supplements is that the body adjusts to the adrenergic effect, your metabolism returns to equilibrium, and your weight loss efforts can plateau as you become resistant to the effects of the supplements.

Because forskolin doesn’t stimulate adrenergic receptors, you can use it long-term without any plateauing of weight loss results – and without any of the nasty adrenergic side-effects of other weight loss supplements.

But does it work?

With this science behind it, forskolin has been promoted as a fat-burning weight-loss miracle cure, but the current (albeit limited) clinical evidence suggests that while it may help you to tone up, it may not help you shred any weight. A 2011 study found that taking a 250mg of a 10% forskolin extract for 12 weeks improved the fat-to-muscle ratio in obese men and boosted their serum testosterone levels [3]. This is great news if you’re looking to tone up your physique, but not so useful if you’re determined to drop the pounds to enter a lower weight division or BMI.

In women, the same 250mg concentration of forskolin supplement was given for 12 weeks but resulted in no significant weight loss nor any improvement in body composition [4]. On the other hand, there was no increase in weight during the 12 week period, and the researchers suggest that forskolin may work well to help maintain healthy weight after dieting.

The difference between these two studies regarding body composition may be due to the effect of testosterone – forskolin helps to boost testosterone in men but has limited effect in women. Testosterone is known to improve lean muscle mass, which would explain why the male participants showed improved physique. It’s also important to note that starting weight may impact the significance of these study outcomes. The men in the first study were obese, while the women who participated in the second study were only mildly overweight.

In more promising news, a randomized controlled trial from 2015 showed that 250mg extract of forskolin per day reduced risk factors for metabolic disease when taken in conjunction with a low calorie diet. Obviously a low calorie diet will help to improve these parameters, but the forskolin group showed much greater improvement than the placebo group in insulin sensitivity, reduction in waist:hip ratio measurements, and increase in HDL cholesterol [5]. So while forskolin may not cause total weight loss, it can probably help to protect against metabolic disease.


Using Forskolin to Boost Testosterone

The connection between forskolin and testosterone is facilitated by cAMP. Testosterone (T) is produced in the Leydig cells of testicles. As forskolin causes an up-regulation of cAMP in the Leydig cells, it also up-regulates testosterone production. This increase results in higher levels of total testosterone and free testosterone throughout the body.

The 2011 study of thirty obese men showed this occurred at doses of 250mg of a 10% forskolin extract taken each day for 12 weeks, resulting in a 16% increase in total testosterone and a corresponding 3.5% increase in free testosterone [3].

Testosterone production naturally and gradually declines with age, but premature andropause (a fancy name for a sudden drop in testosterone) can cause distressing symptoms of fat weight gain, strength loss, lethargy, low libido and even depression.

Stress is the major cause of prematurely low T, but other serious physiological issues may be at play – be sure to get checked out by your doctor before experimenting with forskolin supplements. Once you’ve got the all-clear, a 250mg dose of forskolin each day may make a huge difference to your mood and energy levels.

NOTE: Make sure you are getting plenty of the nutritional foundations for testosterone production, like zinc and vitamin D, before trying to boost T with herbal supplements. There’s no point up-regulating the production pathway if there aren’t enough building-blocks to make the hormone!


Forskolin for General Well-Being

High Blood Pressure

While many “diet pills” can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels, forskolin actually reduces blood pressure. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years as a heart tonic, and preliminary research shows that it may have mild effects as a antihypertensive [1].

Heartburn and Reflux

While this no published work on how forskolin may balancing stomach acid, the root of the Coleus Forskohlii plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years as a tea and a tincture to relieve symptoms of heartburn and reflux. There’s no western evidence to suggest that taking a forskolin supplement will have the same effects, but it may be worth trying!


Side Effects & Safety

Based on the limited published evidence available, forskolin supplementation seems to be relatively safe with very few side effects. Doses of 250mg per day of a 10% concentration of forskolin are standard in all clinical trials currently published, but given the positive safety profile, you can probably dose yourself higher.

Don’t take forskolin if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication for blood pressure.

Use with caution if you have:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High testosterone
  • PCOS
  • Bleeding disorders

Top 5 Best Forskolin Supplements

5. Vitapath Forskolin Extract (250mg 60 capsules)

Forskolin Supplements
Vitapath have created a capsule with a similar dose to those found in the clinical trials of forskolin for weight loss (250mg per day). However, the 20% forskolin extract in these capsules is slightly stronger than the 10% concentration found in those studies. This is great supplement to start with if you’re looking to experiment with forskolin with an easy dose of only 1 capsule per day to meet therapeutic levels.


4. Origin Labs 100% Pure Forskolin Extract (250mg 120 capsules)

Origin Labs Forskolin
For a cleaner supplement, try out this forskolin extract from Origin Labs. Each capsule contains the ideal 250mg dose, though the packaging recommends doubling that dose by taking two at a time. Given the safety profile of forskolin, it’s probably safe to do so, particularly as this supplement contains no artificial ingredients, binders, fillers, or GMOs.


 

3. Geo-Fresh Organic Forskolin (75mg 90 capsules)

Forskolin Supplements

Geo-Fresh have produced a concentrated forskolin supplement that is 100% organic, vegan, and free from additives and fillers. The only ingredients are forskolin, organic starch, and organic acacia gum – talk about clean!

Don’t let the low dose per capsule put you off. You can help to sustain the metabolic effects of forskolin by taking these low-dose capsules across the span the whole day.


2. Ultra Forskolin Liquid Extract (250mg 2.8oz)

Forskolin Liquid

Liquid extracts are often more potent and readily absorbable than capsules and tablets. This liquid forskolin supplement has a pleasant(ish) fruity flavor and all you need is a dropper beneath the tongue before a meal, twice a day. This supplement is a great alternative for people who struggle with swallowing pills, and those with impaired digestion – this is a sure-fire way to get a therapeutic dose of forskolin into your system.


1. BodyPrime Formulas 40% & 20% Forskolin Extracts (250mg 60 capsules)

Best Forskolin Supplement

BodyPrime Formulas offer a forskolin supplement with therapeutic doses of chromium and aloe vera extract. This complex is perfect for controlled blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and supporting fat-burning. The supplement contains both 40% and 20% concentrated extracts of forskolin to boost the amount of actual forskolin in each capsule. If you’re looking for the perfect forskolin supplement to treat metabolic disease – this is it!

View Body Prime Forskolin on Amazon


References:

[1] Jagtap, M., et al. (2011) Clinical efficacy of Coleus forskohlii (Willd.) Briq. (Makandi) in hypertension of geriatric population. Ayu., 32:1, 59 – 65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215419/

[2] Pateraki, I., et al. (2017) Total biosynthesis of the cyclic AMP booster forskolin from Coleus forskohlii. Elife, 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388535/

[3] Godard, M. P., et al. (2005) Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men. Obesity, 13:8, 1335 – 1343. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2005.162/full

[4] Henderson, S., et al. (2005) Effects of Coleus Forskohlii Supplementation on Body Composition and Hematological Profiles in Mildly Overweight Women. J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 2:2, 54 – 62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2129145/

[5] Loftus, H. L., et al. (2015) Coleus forskohlii Extract Supplementation in Conjunction with a Hypocaloric Diet Reduces the Risk Factors of Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight and Obese Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4663611/

About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.