Forksolin is a compound extracted from the roots of a tropical plant known as the Indian coleus (Coleus forskohlii).
This cousin of the mint plant, has long been used in ancient Indian herbal medicine to treat a variety of health conditions and diseases.
Over the last few years, forskolin has gained mainstream attention for its purported weight loss properties.
But, does it really work?
Losing Weight with Forskolin
To date, there has been limited research into the weight loss effects of forskolin with humans. The majority of forskolin experiments have been performed on animals or in test tubes.
In those studies, forskolin stimulated fat cells to release stored fat. This is the equivalent of how the human body uses stored fat for energy. (1)
Unfortunately, this experiment was done on rats and has yet to be proven in humans. Additionally, the stimulation of stored fat isn’t going to cause weight loss on its own. It needs to be in conjunction with other factors like dieting and exercise.
Currently, there are two human studies that provide the most analysis on forskolin’s potential weight loss properties. Both of these studies were random controlled trials that have been used by forskolin weight loss proponents.
Let’s examine further.
Study #1: Forskolin and Obese Men
The first study observed 30 overweight/obese men over a 12 week period. The subjects were divided into two groups of 15: the forskolin group and the placebo group. The forskolin group was given 250mg of forskolin twice a day, while the placebo group was given an equivalent amount of placebo pills. (2)
The findings were exciting, but they didn’t quite live up to the desired outcome. The men who took foskolin experienced a significant amount of fat loss compared to the placebo group. Additionally, the forskolin group saw an increase in testosterone, which also improved their overall lean body mass. Unfortunately, there was no reported weight loss in either group of men.
This study concluded that forskolin could be beneficial to obese men in regards to reducing body fat and increasing testosterone. However, it did not equate to losing overall body weight.
Study #2: Forskolin and Obese Women
The second study was a 12 week trial for 23 overweight women. All of the participants were given 500mg of forskolin per day. Unlike the first study, there was no significant change in body fat. (3)
Additionally, there was no reported weight loss in any of the women. However, there was one silver lining to this experiment, it appears that forskolin helped to prevent these women from gaining any weight.
Other Health Benefits
As mentioned, forskolin has long been used as an herbal remedy for a wide range of health conditions and diseases. The following is a list of reported health benefits:
- Helps to reduce asthma attacks and can be used as a treatment option for asthma sufferers. (4, 5)
- Reduces high blood pressure. (6)
- Slowing or stopping tumor growth in various types of rectal cancer. (7)
- Can cause cell death in multiple myeloma cancer cells. (8)
- Lowers blood sugar levels. (9)
- Has long been used as a treatment option for glaucoma. (10)
- Encouraging evidence that forskolin can help treat Alzheimer’s. More research is still needed. (11)
- Increases bone mineral density, which may lower the risk of osteoporosis. (12)
Forskolin Dosage for Weight Loss
As of now, there’s not enough research on what the appropriate dosages should be for weight loss.
Typically, most forskolin supplements come in 100 to 250 milligram capsules or tablets. The extract potency is usually 10% to 20% forskolin.
Forskolin Side Effects
The scientific research is still lacking in regards to long term side effects of forskolin usage. However, there has been some evidence for the following negative reactions: (13)
- Stinging and enlarged blood vessels in the eyes
- Coughs and other respiratory irritations
- Increased heartbeats
- Lowered blood pressure (when taken through IVs)
It’s advised that anyone taking blood thinners avoid forskolin consumption. Additionally, forskolin supplementation should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women due to a lack of research proving its safety.
Does forskolin really help with losing weight?
The current scientific research does not back up the purported claims of forskolin’s weight loss properties by supplement manufacturers and Dr. Oz. However, it’s very clear that forskolin is a great option for treating a wide range of health ailments and diseases.
Keep in mind, forskolin’s weight loss efficacy might just be due to a lack of human trials and not because it’s incapable of causing weight loss. Furthermore, forskolin does show some promise as a fat loss and testosterone boosting agent. Additionally, it may be an effective ingredient for preventing weight gain. More research is needed for all three areas.
Bottom line, until more evidence comes to light, forskolin should remain a treatment option for the health issues listed above and ignored as a weight loss supplement.