Forskolin, or coleus forskohlii, is an extract derived from the Indian Coleus plant- a small perennial member of the mint family which can be found growing in subtropical areas. Forskolin is commonly used as a weight loss supplement. Forskolin has a wide range of applications, from dietary supplements to home remedies to biochemical laboratories. Forskolin has been touted by health experts to protect against cancer and inflammation, increase testosterone levels, treat heart disorders, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, insomnia, and a universe of other common complaints and disorders.
In this article we’ll focus on the fat burning applications of Forskolin to assess the efficacy of the extract, and determine whether Forskolin is a worthwhile dietary supplement.
The History of Forskolin
Forskolin has been an important element in health and medicine for thousands of years. Use of Forskolin to treat ailments has its roots in one of the oldest forms of medical practice in the world, Ayurveda Medicine. Ayurveda originated on the Indian subcontinent, and is an extension of Hindu philosophies and religious practices. Ayurveda therapies are typically based on complex herbal compounds, of which Forskolin plays an integral part to treat heart disease, convulsions, spasmodic pain and painful urination.
Forskolin extracts of other Coleus species of the Plectranthus genus are also used in South America in traditional folk medicine to alleviate digestive problems, particularly liver-related ones, such as headaches caused by hangovers and other consumption of alcohol, as well as excessive fat content in food.
Modern science began to catch up with ancient medical practices in the early 1970’s, with the first clinical study on the effects of Forskolin extract carried out by a partnership between Hoechst Pharmaceuticals and the Indian Central Drug Research Institute. The study concluded that Forskolin reduced muscle spasms and lowered blood pressure.
More recent studies led to the discovery that Forskolin has some other interesting chemical interactions – Forskolin has the ability to activate a specific enzyme associated with increased levels of cAMP- Cyclic adenosine monophosphate- during in vitro testing of cell physiology. Although this may sound complex, increased cAMP levels are associated with increased fat loss. Let’s take a closer look at the biomechanical action involved in this fat loss correlation.
How Does Forskolin Work as a Fat Burner?
The human body carries within it an enzyme called adenylyl cyclase, abbreviated as AC. AC is an enzyme with key regulatory roles in essentially all cells, and when Forskolin is ingested, it activates the AC enzyme, resulting in increased levels of cAMP.
How does this help burn fat? Cyclic adenosine monophosphate, abbreviated to cAMP, is an important derivative of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the cellular currency your body uses to transfer energy from your stomach throughout your body. cAMP is a cell-regulating compound that acts as a cellular messenger, ultimately affecting a wide range of bodily functions such as hormonal responses. Increasing cAMP saturation has been demonstrated to produce a more powerful heartbeat and widen the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure.
Most importantly for fat burning applications, increased cAMP levels stimulates the release of the thyroid hormone, which has a positive effect on many symptoms associated with fatigue and weight gain. Obese individuals have been observed to have far lower cAMP levels than normal, which contributes to weight loss difficulty. Stimulating the release of thyroid hormones has been proven to It increase fat metabolism and insulin production, allowing the body to remove unnecessary fat faster.
The health benefits don’t stop there, however. Forskolin also has a relaxant effect on muscle, meaning it can be used to treat conditions such as muscle tension and cramp, convulsions, muscle cramping and bladder pain. Forskolin also reduces histamine release in the body which can help slow or even completely stop the production of chemicals that cause inflammatory responses.
Forskolin also assists the body in burning fat- quite literally- by helping the body enter a state called thermogenesis. During thermogenesis the body breaks down adipose, or belly fat by increasing the body temperature. If you decide to take Forskolin as a supplement it’s advised you drink lots of water in to stay hydrated and allow the body to flush out the associated toxins.
As a short summary, the Forskolin extract has been demonstrated to cause the body to increase the levels of hormones associated with higher fat metabolism levels. Forskolin functions as an efficient fat-burning supplement.
Dosage, Availability and Interactions.
There is a wide range of Forskolin extract supplements available on the market today, with most supplements offering a 20% of pure Forskolin extract or higher. The recommended daily dosage begins at 25 to 60 mg per day.
Most extracts available on the market are available in pill or capsule form, but there is a scholarly debate over whether the pure extracted Forskolin has as many health benefits as consuming the entire lead of the Coleus plant. If you’d like to save money on supplement costs and live in a subtropical region, coleus plants are widely available and easy to grow and nurture, allowing you to get your fat-burning fix in a natural and cost-effective manner. The Coleus plants that contain Forskolin also have some of the most stunningly colored foliage- in combinations of green, yellow, pink, red, maroon.
There are a few caveats to the health benefits of Forskolin, however. Due to the nature of the interactions with cAMP and the calcium channel of the body, it’s strongly recommended that individuals on medication for high blood pressure stay away. Coleus extract is also warned against during pregnancy as it may slow or inhibit the growth of the fetus. As with any supplement, it’s best to consult with your medical practitioner before trying a new compound.
Should You Take Forskolin to Lose Weight?
As with any fat-burning supplement, it’s impossible to lose weight or burn body fat just by sitting on the couch and taking pills or powders. There is, however, conclusive evidence that when used in conjunction with a regular exercise regime Forskolin can definitely give you a competitive edge.