Forskolin – What Medical Data & Scientific Literature Has To Say?

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Forskolin – What Medical Data & Scientific Literature Has To Say?

In the modern struggle of the obesity epidemic, diets, weight loss supplements, and fitness gurus are becoming as difficult to navigate as they are widespread. Forskolin is one of the myriad natural health remedies that promises rapid weight loss where traditional diet and exercise fail.

What is Forskolin?

Forskolin is derived from the Coleus Forskolii plant, part of the mint family that grows mainly in Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and India. It is also referred to as Coleus, Pashanabhedi, Makandi, HL-362, NKH477, and Mao Hou Qiao Rui Hua. Within the ancient traditional Indian medicine of Ayurveda, Forskolin has had thousands of years of use to treat heart conditions, sleep issues, seizures and epilepsy, breathing problems, and skin conditions. In Ayurveda and other traditional medicinal systems where Coleus grows, it also used to treat digestive disorders, induce menstruation, viral and bacterial infections, parasites, and as an oral contraceptive.

Its tuberous roots are also used as pickles, served in an array of relishes in Asian and Indian cuisine.

Why are we talking about Forskolin now?

In January 2014, Dr. Oz introduced his audience on the Dr. Oz Show to Forskolin as a weight loss remedy that saw it explode in popularity. This reinvigorated its ancient and storied past, shedding new light on decades of scientific research, and millenia of folk acceptance.

In the 1970’s pharmaceutical researchers at Hoechst found evidence that indicated Coleus extracts such as Forskolin lower blood pressure and decreased involuntary muscle activity, and further cardiovascular effects were studied.

Later, with the inertia of that study, the University of Kansas researchers analyzed 30 obese male patients in a 12 week double blind study. It was found that 250 mg of a 10% Forskolin – Coleus extract increased the patients’ body fat loss by 780%, increased bone mass by 35%, and increased testosterone availability within their body by 34%, over patients who took the placebo. This change in the conversion of fat mass to lean body mass was the foundation for Dr. Oz’s demonstration of Forskolin effects; setting fire to a lump of fat, and having a mass of muscle be the only thing remaining.

A later study by Baylor on obese female patients found that Forskolin reduced appetite and weight gain, but did not see the dramatic reduction in body fat seen by the earlier University of Kansas study.

Since then, Forskolin has become one of the most widely searched for dietary weight loss supplement, with countless manufacturers and extracts offering their own product, many promoting it as a safe, herbal supplement without the side effects of more extreme pharmaceutical options.

How Does Forskolin Work?

Forskolin is widely used in biochemistry as a messenger in intracellular signals in important biological processes in the study of cell physiology.

It increases the blood levels of Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate, which has a hand in controlling blood pressure and muscle control. It is a labdane diterpene, which are compounds determined to be anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-protozoal, and anti-inflammatory. It has been used in conjunction with a type of PDE4 inhibitor in vitro for long term potentiation and memory.

While its specific usage in this application is not necessarily unique, its modest effect on testosterone indicates statistically significant bio availability, giving it preference over other cAMP stimulators. Within the body, its method of action is lesser understood, but as a cAMP stimulator, whichever cell it affects, is the cell that is stimulated. This means that within the testes, testosterone is stimulated, and if it penetrates the adipocytes, fat is burned.

For this reason, health care providers sometimes administer Forskolin in an eye drop, intravenously, or powder for various other conditions.

Dosage and Side Effects

There have been limited studies into varied dosages with Forskolin, and similar research into side effects, but it is an area that is undergoing analysis and some general guidelines have been established. Forskolin is often sold and administered within Coleus as a concentration varying in strength. The study undertaken by the University of Kansas established a concentration of a 250 mg dosage of 10% Forskolin – Coleus as an effective strength for weight loss. This should be taken twice a day for a total of 500 mg. This reflects the concentration of many Forskolin supplements on the market today. However, the strength can vary from 10% – 20%, and dosage should be varied according to this.

Separate dosage guidelines have been established for the treatment of asthma, with Forskolin being administered both via oral ingestion, and inhalation of it as dried powder. 10 mg administered orally per day for 2 to 6 months has been studied with some promise.

For treatment of blood pressure, dosages of 0.1 – 1mg per kg of body weight has been shown to lower blood pressure in cats, and is more effective in test subjects with higher than normal blood pressure. Higher strength of administration appears to affect length of treatment time, rather than higher effectiveness in lowering blood pressure.

Side effects have been noted in specific types of patients, with the most common complaint being gas, diarrhea, and bloating. The same things that have been pointed to as possible treatments should be considered reasons to avoid Forskolin if you are vulnerable to these effects. Those with low blood pressure should avoid Forskolin, as well as persons diagnosed with hypotension. Patients with polycystic kidney disease should not take Forskolin. While Forskolin is sometimes administered intravenously for heart failure, this should only be done by a health care professional, and a Forskolin derivative, Colforsin, has been reported to induce heart irregularities.

Overdose in rats has been recorded at 2,000 mg per kg of body weight (1).

Who should take Forskolin?

Forskolin is a promising supplement in the struggle against obesity, in a market awash with products claiming to be the answer. It is not currently well understood enough to recognize its biological mechanisms fully, but it has a long history of use in traditional medicines for a range of maladies. While the standing research does not appear to point to it as a magic pill, those who understand the associated risks for specific medical categories should seek advice from their health care provider.

With exercise and dieting, Forskolin may be considered to be a potentially strong advantage in a person’s weight loss efforts.

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