Forskolin is a compound derived from the root of a plant related to mint and has been used for over a thousand years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote general well being and heart health. Studies have shown that it can lower blood pressure and improve circulation (1).
Forskolin is also commonly used for weight loss. There is little research supporting its efficacy as a weight loss agent. However, forskolin helps the body burn excess fat and build lean mass. It may also be effective in preventing weight gain (2).
Additionally, forskolin has shown promise as a natural alternative to standard pharmaceuticals for the treatment of asthma. Patients who were given forskolin instead of a steroid inhaler had the same frequency of asthma attacks, but fewer side effects (3).
Forskolin is generally considered safe when taken at recommended doses. However, users do report occasional side effects, including increased or irregular heartbeat, restlessness, and low blood pressure. It should not be taken by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
1Forskolin can help promote weight loss and burn fat. Forskolin has long been used for its weight loss properties. Although studies have shown mixed results for its effects on weight loss, forskolin has been shown to be effective for burning fat.
A study with 30 obese men found that forskolin led to significant decreases in body fat composition. The men who were given 250 mg of forskolin twice a day for three months lost more fat than the men who received a placebo treatment (4).
Furthermore, forskolin appeared to stimulate the release of testosterone, a hormone that is crucial for regulating fat composition in the body.
2Forskolin can increase lean body mass. Research has shown that forskolin can increase the amount of testosterone circulating in the body. Testosterone helps release and burn fat, and also increases the amount of lean muscle.
Men who were given 250 mg of forskolin for 12 weeks showed increased lean muscle, as well as less fat. There were few side effects from the treatment, with all of the participants tolerating it well (5).
These studies were done with obese men, so it’s still not known if forskolin is effective when used by healthy people. Forskolin should be combined with routine exercise to increase the effects, as well as with a healthy diet.
3Forskolin may help prevent weight gain. Studies using forskolin for weight loss have shown mixed results. However, forskolin may still be effective for preventing weight gain.
Women who took 250 mg of forskolin twice a day for 12 weeks showed lower levels of weight gain than women who did not receive the treatment (6).
The women in the study were obese, so more research is needed to demonstrate that forskolin prevents weight gain in people of a healthy weight.
4Forskolin can help regulate blood pressure. Herbal treatments containing forskolin have long been used to improve heart health. Research has confirmed that forskolin can be useful for reducing high blood pressure.
One study found that forskolin reduces high blood pressure in ¾ of patients. The patients in the study were all elderly, so it’s not known if forskolin is effective in younger people (7).
There is not much research where forskolin is used as a first-line treatment for high blood pressure. Therefore, you should not use it to replace standard medications, such as beta blockers, unless under the supervision of your doctor.
Forskolin may also be dangerous if combined with beta-blockers, as they can cause blood pressure to drop too low.
5Forskolin may help lower blood sugar levels. Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot properly maintain blood sugar levels. Over time, elevated blood sugar can lead to organ and nerve damage, as well as weight gain.
Studies have shown that forskolin may be effective for regulating blood sugar levels. Rats that were given forskolin had lower fasting blood sugar levels, which decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (8).
More research is needed to understand the role of forskolin in humans with diabetes, and whether it can help prevent the condition. Forskolin should never be used as a primary treatment for diabetes. However, it may be useful alongside standard treatments, such as insulin.
6Forskolin can help prevent asthma attacks. Asthma is a condition where inflammation in the lungs can lead to difficulty breathing. It’s a chronic condition, normally treated with steroid inhalers.
Research has indicated that forskolin may be an effective natural alternative to steroid inhalers. One study found that people with asthma who took forskolin had about half as many asthma attacks as patients taking cromoglicic acid (9).
Another study found that there was no difference between forskolin and beclomethasone, a widely used steroid inhaler. This supports the use of forskolin as a safe and effective alternative to many traditional asthma medications (10).
7Forskolin can help treat some symptoms of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition where pressure builds up behind the eye, possibly damaging the optic nerve and impairing vision.
Studies have shown that forskolin may be effective for treating some cases of glaucoma, both when taken orally, as an injection, and as eye drops. It also has fewer side effects than many standard first-line treatments, such as beta blockers.
One study found that oral administration of forskolin led to a significant decrease in eye pressure for patients with glaucoma, helping protect the optic nerve and prevent damage to vision (11).
Another study using forskolin eye drops found that they were a safer option than traditional glaucoma treatments, such as beta blockers and prostaglandin (12).
Little research has been done using forskolin as a primary treatment for glaucoma. Therefore, it is best used as a supplement for traditional medications.
8Forskolin can help treat cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle is enlarged, thin, or stiff, increasing the risk of cardiac failure. If left untreated, cardiomyopathy can be fatal. Standard therapy usually involves drugs that reduce blood pressure, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers.
A small study showed that forskolin was effective for patients with congestive idiopathic cardiomyopathy when injected intravenously. These patients showed improved heart function and were at lower risk of cardiac failure (13).
Forskolin may not be safe when combined with drugs that reduce blood pressure, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers. If you plan on taking forskolin for cardiomyopathy, you should speak to your doctor, as they may need to adjust your other medications.
9Forskolin may help reduce inflammation in the brain. Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease cause plaques to form in the brain, and can also lead to inflammation.
Early studies have shown that forskolin may be able to reduce inflammation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This can improve the physical symptoms of the disease, making it easier for patients with Alzheimer’s disease to carry out day to day activities (14).
Forskolin is not a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, and it should never be used as a replacement for standard drug therapies. Speak to your doctor if you are considering adding forskolin to your Alzheimer’s disease therapy.
10Forskolin may have antitumor benefits. Research has shown that forskolin increases the activity of protein phosphatase 2, which may prevent the growth of certain types of cancer cells.
Specifically, forskolin appeared to slow the growth of rectal cancer, preventing tumor formation. It may also kill off certain cancer cells, such as those found in multiple myeloma (15).
Much more research is needed to understand these mechanisms and the role that forskolin plays in cancer. It should never be used as a primary treatment option for any type of cancer. However, it may be effective when used as a supplement to standard treatments.
11Forskolin may help you develop a tan. Melanin is the molecule responsible for giving the skin color. When exposed to the sun, the skin will increase levels of melanin, which can help protect you from the solar rays. However, many people don’t produce much melanin, making it difficult to develop a tan.
Researchers found that forskolin could stimulate the production of melanin in the skin, helping speed up tanning. Once forskolin was removed, the skin returned to normal within a few weeks (16)
It’s still not known if using forskolin for tanning is safe, as there may be side effects that could increase skin damage.
1Some studies have found that forskolin can cause an increased or irregular heartbeat. This side effect is rare, but if you notice any changes in your heartbeat after using forskolin, you should discontinue use and contact your doctor.
2Forskolin may also interact with certain medications. If you are taking beta blockers, you should avoid forskolin, as it could interfere with the mechanism of the drugs.
3Forskolin has been shown to lower blood pressure. If you already have low blood pressure, you should avoid forskolin, as it could drop your blood pressure to dangerous levels. It can be combined with drugs that lower blood pressure, as long as you consult your doctor and monitor blood pressure to make sure it doesn’t drop too low (17).
4Forskolin has been reported by some users to cause throat irritation, coughing, and restlessness when used for asthma.
5When forskolin is used in eye injections, there have been reports that it can cause mild irritation and stinging.
6Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should stay away from forskolin. It’s safety profile in pregnant women has not been studied.
7People who are about to have surgery or are recovering from surgery should also stay away from forskolin, as the changes it causes in blood pressure could be dangerous.
8Forskolin may harm the liver. Forskohlii extract can potentially damage the liver. It was shown in laboratory animals that Coleus forskohlii extract increases the level of a number of proteins in the liver, which may result in damage to the organ (18).
9Long term use of forskolin is not well studied, although it is likely safe. If you are planning on using forskolin for a prolonged period to treat a specific medical condition, you should speak to your doctor.
Forskolin is used for a wide range of purposes, so the recommended dose will depend on your reason for taking the supplement. Concentrations of many forskolin products vary, so check the purity of the forskolin you buy before deciding on a dose.
Studies, where forskolin was used for fat loss, used a dose of around 500 mg (with a 10% forskolin formulation), usually divided into two doses. This dose had few side effects and showed results in around 12 weeks (19).
Most other studies used maximum doses of around 50 mg of forskolin, with the concentration of the formulation varying widely.
Forskolin is sometimes prescribed in an inhaler. The dose will vary depending on the severity of asthma symptoms, so you should consult your doctor on how much forskolin you should take.
When buying a forskolin supplement, make sure that you check the purity. Many manufacturers dilute their products, giving you less forskolin than is needed for the supplement to be therapeutically effective.
Is forskolin safe? For most users, forskolin is safe. There are some side effects reported with routine use, including restlessness, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure.
Can forskolin be taken long term? There is little research on the long term effects of forskolin. Although it may be safe, there could be side effects that only appear after prolonged use. If you are considering using forskolin long term, you should speak to your doctor. It may possibly interfere with other medications and can lower blood pressure.
How is forskolin taken? For most conditions, forskolin is taken orally. It is also prescribed as an inhaler for asthma. When used to treat glaucoma, forskolin can be injected or used as eye drops.
Can forskolin be taken alongside warfarin? It is not recommended. Forskolin may interfere with the mechanism of blood thinners such as warfarin. Speak to your doctor if you plan on taking forskolin alongside warfarin.
Is forskolin as effective as steroid inhalers for asthma? Some studies have found that forskolin can be as effective as certain steroid inhalers for reducing asthma attack frequency. However, these studies were fairly small, and more research is needed to understand the role that forskolin plays in asthma.
Steroid inhalers have much more evidence supporting their efficacy. However, they do tend to have more side effects. If you react poorly to steroid inhalers, forskolin is a relatively safe natural alternative.
What’s the maximum safe dose of forskolin? There are few studies conducted in humans using high doses of forskolin. Most studies use around 50 mg per day, with few noticeable side effects. Doses higher than this may still be safe, but more research is needed to understand the potential side effects of high forskolin doses.
Always take note of the purity of the forskolin that you buy, as it can vary widely. Many studies will use large doses, but only of 10% forskolin formulations. If you try to copy this dose but have pure forskolin, you may end up taking a significantly higher dose.
Will forskolin make you lose weight? Forskolin is often sold as part of weight loss programs. However, there is little evidence supporting the use of forskolin for weight loss, with most studies showing that it is no more effective than placebo treatments.
However, forskolin can help the body shed excess fat and build lean mass. You won’t lose weight while using forskolin, but it can improve your figure. It may also be effective in preventing weight gain.
Can forskolin be injected? Forskolin is injected for certain medical conditions, including glaucoma and cardiomyopathy. For other conditions, such as high blood pressure, it should be taken orally.
Forskolin injections are safe when done by a medical professional. When receiving injections for glaucoma, the injections should always be done by someone with the proper training, as the eye could be severely damaged.
Does forskolin hurt the liver? Yes, forskolin can potentially damage the liver. It was shown in laboratory animals that Coleus forskohlii extract increases the level of a number of proteins in the liver, which may result in damage to the organ.
What are the dangers of taking forskolin? Some negative reactions to forskolin have been reported. These include flushing, fast heartbeats, and low blood pressure when taken through an IV. Upper respiratory tract irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness can happen when forskolin is inhaled.
What does forskolin do to your body? Forskolin aids in weight loss by helping create enzymes called lipase and adenylate cyclase. These two enzymes free fatty acids from the body’s cells. When the fatty acids are free, they can be burned as fuel.
Does forskolin interact with any medications? People taking blood thinners or anti-platelet drugs should not take forskolin. In addition, certain high blood pressure drugs may interact with forskolin.
What is the best time of day to take forskolin? Forskolin is best taken 30-45 minutes before a meal on an empty stomach to ensure you absorb it into your system.
Can forskolin cause nausea? Some people may experience side effects after taking forskolin, including headaches, lightheadedness, flushing, blurry vision, clammy skin, and nausea. Many of these symptoms are related to a sudden drop in blood pressure (known as hypotension).
Can you take forskolin with thyroid medicine? It should not be taken together. Forskolin stimulates thyroid hormone production so you may not need as much thyroid replacement hormone as you were prescribed.
Does forskolin help with HIV? Yes, forskolin may help with HIV. There is one experimental report indicating that P. barbatus extract blocks the activity of proteins derived from the HIV virus.
Can forskolin help with wound healing? Yes, forskolin was shown that it can induce migration of skin cells to the place of the wound helping its healing.
Forskolin is a compound that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to protect the heart. Now, it is commonly added to weight loss supplements and is used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, from high blood pressure to asthma.
There is little research showing that forskolin can help you shed weight. However, studies indicate that forskolin can burn fat and increase lean muscle mass. It may also help prevent weight gain.
Furthermore, forskolin may help regulate blood sugar levels, making it a useful supplement to standard diabetes medications. Forskolin has also been shown to lower blood pressure and may make some blood pressure drugs more effective (20).
However, it should not be used with beta blockers, as this could lead to sudden drops in blood pressure.
Forskolin has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce brain inflammation in those with Alzheimer’s disease (21).
It’s also commonly used by people with asthma and has been shown to be just as effective as many steroid inhalers (22).
Although generally considered safe, forskolin may have some side effects, such as increased heart rate, restlessness, and low blood pressure. When used as an inhaler formulation, it can cause throat irritation and coughing.