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Forskolin is a plant supplement derived from the root of Indian coleus which is a member of the mint family. This plant grows naturally in Thailand, Nepal, and various parts of India.

The Indian coleus plant has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine which is known to be one of the world’s oldest holistic healing practices originating in India. These practices were later incorporated into western wellness practices. Originally, people boiled the root of the coleus to make tea. They then drank it as a way to promote overall wellness.

Today, it is most popular as a supplement for weight loss, but forskolin has also been researched for the following conditions and disorders:

  • Heart disease
  • Constipation
  • Breathing disorders such as asthma and bronchitis
  • bone mineral density
  • the stimulation of testosterone formation
  • cancer treatment
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Glaucoma treatment
  • Stimulating a suntan

Forskolin For Weight Loss & Management

Forskolin is most commonly used as a supplement for weight loss or weight management. Henderson et al. (2005)1 states that it works by creating enzymes called adenylate cyclase which “activates Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate, or Cyclic AMP (cAMP) in the cell. Cyclic AMP promotes the breakdown of stored fats in animal and human fat cells. It regulates the body’s thermogenic response to food, increases the body’s basal metabolic rate, and increases the utilization of body fat. It may also release fatty acids from adipose tissue, which results in increased thermogenesis.” Increased thermogenesis helps the body burn fat.

Basically speaking, it frees fatty acids from the body’s cells. However, you must still follow a sensible diet and regular exercise because even though forskolin can increase your body’s fat-burning efficiency, it doesn’t work without your healthy contributions to actually burn the fat.

Study results on the use of forskolin for weight loss have been favorable.

In a meta-analysis looking at 7 clinical studies, forskolin extract was shown to have a substantial effect on weight loss and was also deemed as safe and effective for reducing body fat in overweight and obese people according to ScienceDirect (2016)2.

One study by Godard et al. (2005)3 looked at the impact of Forskolin on body composition, metabolic rate, blood pressure, and testosterone in overweight and obese men. Participants were given 250 mg of forskolin extract twice a day for 12-weeks. The results of the study were that during that 12-week period, participants had favorably altered their body composition while also increasing bone mass and serum free testosterone levels. Keep in mind that an increase in testosterone levels helps with overall body composition by helping increase muscle mass while losing fat mass. The researchers concluded that forskolin “is a possible therapeutic agent for the management and treatment of obesity.”

Henderson et al. (2005)4 tested forskolin for weight loss in overweight females over a 12 week period. Sedentary females were given the supplement two times per day. Subjects in the forskolin group tended to report less fatigue, less hunger, and fullness. However, they did not lose weight. Though the results suggest that forskolin did not promote weight loss, it did help to keep the women in the study from gaining additional weight. In addition, there were no clinically significant side effects from taking it.

Studies that found that forskolin did not help participants lose weight did find other benefits in the form of weight management, as in the above study. Forskolin was also found to help lower metabolic risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess fat around the waistline which are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke as you will see in the following studies.

Lower Blood Glucose Levels

For instance, Loftus et al. (2015)5 reported that participants, both the control group and study group, lost weight which included significant reductions in waist and hip circumference. Both groups also had an increase in high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL). They concluded this was from the calorie-restrictive diet. However, the experimental group showed favorable improvement in insulin concentration and insulin resistance compared to the placebo group.  Researchers claimed that the major finding of the study was that supplementation with forskolin in conjunction with a calorie deficit significantly improved the subject’s insulin and insulin resistance which may be helpful in the management of metabolic risk factors.

In a study by Rios-Silva et al. (2014)6 diabetic rats were treated with forskolin for 8 weeks. What they found is that after the treatment, the rats’ basal glucose levels decreased and thus the severity of their hyperglycemia was reduced.

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is estimated to impact nearly one billion people worldwide according to Chockalingam 20117. Chockalingam goes on to state that this figure is predicted to increase to 1.5 billion by 2025. It is a growing problem, but there may be hope for a natural way to reduce blood pressure. Many researchers, including Singh, assert that forskolin is known to lower blood pressure.

A study by Jagtap et al. (2011)8 backs this finding. In their study on 49 patients, they found that forskolin is an effective remedy for the treatment of hypertension. They went on to say that if hypertension is detected early then patients could be treated with natural medicine, forskolin, instead of with powerful synthetic drugs which can have adverse side effects.

Here’s the takeaway from this information. Forskolin alone isn’t going to be a miracle solution for weight loss. You will have to pair it with healthy lifestyle choices to make it effective. You can also use it to maintain healthier body composition, to slow future weight gain, to improve your metabolic risk factors, and to increase testosterone levels (in men).

Forskolin For Asthma Relief

In Ayurvedic medicine, forskolin was used to treat asthma. WebMD9 states there is research to support that it is effective. They assert that it works similarly to conventional asthma drugs by boosting the levels of a compound called cyclic AMP which helps to relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes thus making it easier to breathe.

Gonzalez-Sanchez et al. (2006)10 tested the effectiveness of forskolin in preventing asthma attacks. In a six month study, forty patients of mixed gender who had mild persistent or moderate persistent asthma were assigned randomly to either a group who took forskolin or to a group who took sodium cromoglycate three times a day. Researchers reported that the number of patients who had asthma attacks during the treatment period was significantly lower among those receiving forskolin.

In more recent animal trials, Ma et al. (2018)11 found that forskolin was highly effective in guinea pigs. Their research has laid a “theoretical foundation” for the clinical use of forskolin for asthma sufferers.

Lower Your Risk Of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that degrades the quality of your bones because they lose density and become brittle. Osteoporosis literally means porous bone. The only way to know if you have osteoporosis is to have a bone mineral density test. However, you can help your body avoid this disease by taking preventive measures such as a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise. You can also take medications or supplements to help.

Forskolin is a supplement that has been scientifically shown to increase bone mineral density. The previously mentioned study by Godard et al. (2005)3 is one such study. They found forskolin effective not only for weight loss in patients but also for increasing bone density.

Anti-Cancer Treatment

Cancer is the second largest cause of death worldwide. Countless studies on all types of treatments, including research using forskolin, have been conducted in search of a way to defeat cancer.

Why would researchers be interested in forskolin as a treatment?

Sapio et al. (2017)12 attest that “Forskolin directly activates the adenylate cyclase enzyme, that generates cAMP from ATP, thus, raising intracellular cAMP levels. Notably, cAMP signaling, through the PKA-dependent and/or -independent pathways, is very relevant to cancer and its targeting has shown a number of antitumor effects, including the induction of mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition, inhibition of cell growth and migration and enhancement of sensitivity to conventional antitumor drugs in cancer cells.”

Forskolin has been tested in animals to see if it can protect against cancer and inflammation. One study by Agarwal and Parks (1983)13 suggests it may have a positive effect. They gave forskolin to mice 30-60 minutes before injection with a highly metastatic melanoma cell line. The mice treated with forskolin had reduced tumor colonization in their lungs by 70 percent.

However, there are no human trials using forskolin as a treatment for cancer. More research is needed to see if it could possibly be an effective or viable cancer treatment.

Forskolin For Glaucoma

Those who suffer from glaucoma often feel uncomfortable pressure in their eyes also known as intraocular pressure, IOP. WebMD14 asserts that there was a small study conducted that revealed that forskolin may help relieve this pressure in the eyes. They also attested that forskolin has been found to be a safe alternative to beta blockers in glaucoma patients having concomitant asthma.

In addition, a study by Vetrugno et al. (2012)15 studied 97 patients that were about to undergo surgery to alleviate IOP. Researchers assert that “all patients in the treatment group, independently of the combination drug therapy that they were taking, showed a further 10% decrease of their IOP, starting from 1 week after introduction of the oral supplement.” Therefore, they concluded that the combination of forskolin and rutin given as oral treatment appear to contribute to a better control and a further small reduction of IOP in patients who were poorly responsive to multitherapy treatment.

The aforementioned study by Singh (2017) also reported on the positive effects of forskolin for intraocular pressure.

Sun-Free Tanning!?

We all love the beautiful glow of summer on our skin. A rich tan from the sun feels almost like a mark of health and beauty. However, we know the risks of prolonged sun exposure. If you want a golden tan without the risks, you can use skin products that contain forskolin.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center16, “An animal study showed that forskolin can cause tanning when applied directly to the skin without exposure to the sun. It has been proposed to be used in sunless tanning lotion to reduce skin cancer risks.”

What To Look For When You Buy Forskolin

The majority of studies using forskolin have deemed it safe with no side effects. However, there have been reports in Europe of poisoning following the use of products containing forskolin.  This is possibly due to product contamination. Therefore, it is important to look for a pure product like you find here at Healthy Bunch.

Look for a 100% pure extract that contains 125-300 milligrams of forskolin per capsule. You don’t need any “fillers” in the product.

Keep in mind that any supplement or herbs that you purchase are not monitored by the FDA. Because of this there is no purity, quality, or dosage control or checks. Therefore, you should do your research on the particular product that you are purchasing.

Who Should Not Take Forskolin

Forskolin isn’t for everyone. It is always best to talk to your doctor before starting any supplement regimen. If you belong to one of the following groups, you should not take forskolin due to health risks:

  • Those who have been diagnosed with kidney disease
  • Those with low blood pressure or are taking medications for high blood pressure because forskolin can lower your blood pressure even further
  • Those who take blood thinners because forskolin can further increase your risk of bleeding and bruising


Forskolin is not a guaranteed weight loss supplement. However, it may help you to expedite weight loss while maintaining muscle mass, manage your weight so you don’t gain additional unwanted weight, and help control metabolic risk factors as you work toward living a healthier lifestyle.

If you have asthma, are looking to prevent osteoporosis, or just want a sunless tan, it is always best to talk to your doctor about starting forskolin as part of your daily supplement routine.

Supplement Facts

Serving Size: 1 capsule Servings Per Container: 60

IngredientAmount Per Serving%DV
(Coleus forskohlii root extract)
(Standardized 10% [12.5 mg] forskolin)
125 mg*

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