Forskolin is a fairly new weight loss supplement that was recently featured on the Dr. Oz television show, in February and again in May of 2011 (click here for a complete recap of the show). Forskolin is a plant-based chemical. It comes from the roots of a plant called Plectranthus Barbatus or Coleus Forskohlii. The source plant grows natively in India and is a close relative of mint (1). Traditionally used in Indian medicinal practices for hundreds of years to treat such ailments as allergies, asthma, blood clots, chest pain, eczema, glaucoma, hypertension, IBS, menstrual symptoms, psoriasis, and UTIs (2), it is now available in the form of a fat-burning fitness supplement.
Benefits and Usage
The advertised benefits of Forskolin supplements are numerous. Aside from those uses mentioned above, its contribution to weight loss is a multi-step process that depends on a Forskolin supplement to trigger the desired reaction. Research is still being conducted as to the exact connection between Forskolin and possible weight loss, but the following is the general idea behind its anticipated potential. Taking Forskolin for weight loss is supposed to activate an enzyme called adenylate cyclase. This enzyme then increases what is known as your cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cAMP, levels. High cAMP levels activate hormone-sensitive lipase, or HSL. HSL works to break down and destroy triglycerides, which are stored in the body as fat deposits. Fatty acids are released and then oxidized resulting in a reduction in body fat and cellulite. (3)
Forskolin may also be linked to an increased metabolic rate as higher cAMP rates are thought to stimulate thyroid activity. Your thyroid controls your metabolism. A boost in thyroid activity means a higher metabolic rate which enables food to be broken down and used by the body and calories to be burned up more quickly, thus hopefully contributing to faster and easier weight loss. (3)
Forskolin does not have stimulant properties. Rather, it is a vasodilator, promoting blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Forskolin’s vasodilator properties make it a versatile product, allowing it to be safely ingested in combination with other fat-burning products. (3) The recommended dosage is around 50 to 100mg (and no more than 300mg depending on your individual needs) per day of a product containing 10 to 20 percent pure Forskolin extract.
There are several manufacturers of Forskolin for weight loss supplements. primaFORCE offers a one to two month supply (60 capsules at 50mg each) for just under 40 bucks, which you can buy here. LifeExtension offers a lower dosage 60 capsule supply at a much lower price ($11.25), found here.
Concerns and Risks
Because of its potential to lower blood pressure, Forskolin should be avoided by those with blood pressure conditions or heart disease. It also may interfere with the effectiveness of medications for heart disease treatment. The effects of Forskolin on pregnant women and their unborn children are currently unknown pending further testing. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid the use of supplements containing Forskolin. The chemical may also lead to an increased likelihood of developing a bleeding disorder and/or excessive bleeding both during and after surgery. (2)
I was very surprised to see Dr. Oz…a cardiologist…stating that Forskolin is safe to take for weight loss when it is known to lower blood pressure. I would have expected him to add a warning that if you already have low blood pressure or are on a heart medication, then proceed with caution.
Since my blood pressure has been slowly creeping up lately, I want to try Forskolin and think it might be safe for me to do so. However I’m scheduled for an Upper GI scope soon, so I think I’ll wait until after that, now that I know about the bleeding risk.