In February 2012, a dashing cardiothoracic surgeon known as Dr. Oz introduced the world to Forskolin Extract. A supplement to blast your fat, it was proclaimed to be “lightning in a bottle,” appealing to those who were determined to win their own battle with the bulge.
Does Forskolin Really Work?
There’s a simple route to weight loss – eat less and move more, but in this busy world, our good intentions can often fall by the wayside. That’s where supplements come in, although not a substitute for diet and exercise, they can aid us in losing weight more effectively and quicker. So what about Forskolin? Can it help and should you use it?
What is it anyway?
Forskolin originates from a plant called Coleus Forskohlii, which belongs to the mint family, and it is extracted from the root of the plant. A plant that has been used for many years for healing and in natural Ayurvedic medicine (a division of medicine that looks toward improving health through the ingestion of herbs and supplements), Coleus Forskohlii can be found growing in India, Nepal and Thailand. In the past Forskolin has been used as a remedy to combat many issues including digestive problems, sickness, syphilis, ringworm, burns, insect bites, asthma and poor circulation, and now we can add to this repertoire that it is also linked to weight loss.
How Does Forskolin Aid Weight Loss?
It works organically, increasing our levels of cyclic adenosine mononphosphate (Cyclic AMP). This sounds incredibly complex – but basically, Cyclic AMP refers to our ability to transfer hormones into the cells within our body and helps us to regulate glycogen and glucose.
Forskolin is thought to stimulate thyroid production and lipid metabolism (the breakdown of fat for energy). It is alleged that the supplement improves your energy levels and stamina – meaning you can exercise with more intensity and for longer. It is also believed that it boosts your concentration levels, improving your focus and ability to stay on track. Research implies that the supplement suppresses appetite, so you won’t feel so inclines to reach for the biscuit barrel to quiet your hunger pangs between meals.
If Forskolin does have the capability to increase our capacity for exercise, while reducing our need to eat junk, then it harks back to the two main principles of a healthy lifestyle – reducing calorie intake and being more active. It could indeed be a great aid in the fight against weight gain
Overview of the Research
Also known as Coleonol, 7beta-acetoxy-1alpha, 6beta, 9alpha-trihydroxy-8, 13-epoxy-labd-14-en-11-one, Forskolin has been heralded by some as the wonder remedy for shifting weight loss effortlessly, but can those claims be backed up scientifically?
There haven’t been many trials associated with Forskolin, so let’s take a look at the research studies that have been conducted – a 2014 study using rats as subjects and two studies in 2005 that were carried out on human beings.
In 2014 researchers at the department of biochemistry at the Necmettin Erbakan University in Konya, Turkey carried out a study examining Forskolin’s effects on diabetic rats. Fifty female albino Wistar rats were split into five groups –
1 Control group
2 High-fat diet group
3 High-fat diet plus Forskolin group
4 High fat diet plus Rolipram group
5 High-fat diet plus Forskolin and Rolipram group.
The trial was set to last for ten weeks, and afterward, the rats were put to sleep (in the name of scientific research) so that they could be examined scrupulously. Results indicated that in the high fat diet groups with added supplements (groups 3, 4, and 5), the rats had fatty acid levels that were higher than those of the rats in group 2.
Scientists concluded that Forskolin and Rolipram heightened the cAMP levels within the rats, therefore slowing down and reducing weight gain. Interestingly researchers also discovered that overall, the rats in group 5 (high fat diet plus Forskolin and Rolipram), gained considerably less weight than the rats in group 3 and 4. This suggests that combining two supplements proved to be more effective than taking just one supplement alone. The study went on to be published in Biotechnic & Histochemistry.
Rats are one thing but what of the effect of Forskolin on us humans? Can it help us out as we strive to lose that hard-to-shift weight? Weight tends being easily put on – as the old adage tells us “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” But often the unhealthiest food is the stuff we crave – cakes and sweets. If only we could find the same affinity with fruit and veggies! So, let’s explore what happened when human beings were given Forskolin.
In 2005 The University of Kansas conducted a study into the body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with Forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. The study was designed to investigate the impact of the supplement on the composition of the body, testosterone, metabolic rate, and blood pressure.
Thirty men were selected to participate, and the results were collected over a twelve-week period. Half of the men were given 250g of Forskolin extract twice a day, and the other half were provided with a placebo instead. The results indicated that it increased testosterone levels and assisted in decreasing body fat while promoting lean body mass. The University concluded that Forskolin could be useful in the fight against obesity.
Later on, in that same year, another study was conducted, this time by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The study promised to investigate the effects of Coleus Forskohlii supplementation on body composition and haematological profiles in mildly overweight women.
Twenty-three women were selected for the study, with some being given 250g of Forskolin twice a day for 12 weeks and some were provided with a placebo instead. The objective of the study was to explore the impact of Coleus Forskohlii (CF) on body composition and also ascertain the safety and effectiveness of the supplement.
Although no major impact was noted when it came to calorie intake, fat mass or body fat it was observed that Forskolin did alleviate weight gain, and those taking the supplement reported they felt less hungry and found they felt more energetic. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition concluded that Forskolin didn’t actively boost weight-loss, but it did act as a deterrent to putting on the pounds.
In summary, research seemed to indicate that forskolin doesn’t make you lose weight. However, it can improve male body composition and may help women to reduce weight gain. Where rats are concerned, the supplement seemed to work well too, and it became apparent that taking a combination of two supplements produced even better results.
Are There Any Side Effects?
There is still some debate as the effectiveness of Forskolin, but when it comes to side-effects there seem to be no major issues to worry about if you decide to give it a try.
Some negative side-effects have been reported that you may want to keep in mind if you are thinking about taking the supplement yourself.
It has been suggested that Forskolin can lead to a drop in blood pressure (known as hypotension), which means that you could experience nausea, lack of focus, blurred vision, wooziness and extreme bouts of tiredness. Hypotension is a very serious condition, so if you start experiencing side-effects that may be linked to this, it’s imperative that you seek medical assistance.
Forskolin can also cause a condition known as tachycardia, which relates to the heart beating much faster than normal. This can cause you to feel pain in your chest, and you may find it difficult to catch your breath.
In extreme cases, you could even fall unconscious, so again, it’s important to be aware of how you feel after taking Forskolin – and if you experience side-effects such as those above, seek medical assistance.
There has also been a noted increase in stomach acid levels in those who take Forskolin; this can cause nausea and indigestion. So, if you have stomach related problems already (such as an ulcer), it’s not advisable to take the supplement.
Other recorded side-effects include an annoying cough and minor tremors (restlessness of the limbs). There have also been reports of users experiencing headaches and “stinging” or sore eyes.
Like all medication, taking the correct dose is important. It is suggested that the optimum dosage is 250 mg of Forskolin to be taken twice a day (providing you with 500 mg in total) – this is in line with the Kansas University study. However personal dosages can vary, so it’s important that you check out what is best for you, always follow the instructions on any medication and seek medical advice if you are not sure or experience side-effects.
It’s always a good idea to seek out the best quality supplement you can, ideally you are looking for a supplement that contains at least 10% Forskolin extract – if the product you are looking at contains less it does not have much in the way of active ingredients – meaning you won’t really see much of a benefit!
You should also consider the best time to take your supplement. If you want to experience the benefits of forskolin as an appetite suppressant, then take it around 30 minutes before your meal. This will give the supplement time to take effect and encourage you to eat less when it’s time for breakfast or lunch. Morning (before breakfast) is a good time to take the supplement, as Forskolin will give you an added energy boost to start your day off in the best way.
We’ve stated the importance of following the guidelines – take only what you should and use the supplement as it should be used. You should only take Forskolin capsules orally. Forskolin eye drops exist to combat Glaucoma, but they are designed to do just that – a few drops on the tongue is NOT a good idea and won’t help to aid your weight loss!
What are real users saying?
It can be a little tricky to locate in-depth, and real Forskolin user reviews online. While the supplement has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine; its transition into a weight-loss aid has been relatively slow and much is still to be learned about it.
While there are many testimonials from those who state they are very happy with the weight loss they have achieved via taking Forskolin, it’s important to remember that these are often published by companies who are in the business of selling and making money from supplements. This is not to say they are untrue and research certainly indicates that Forskolin can assist in preventing or reducing weight gain, so let’s take a look at a few of the user reviews that are currently floating about on the big old world wide web. There seem to be mixed reviews on the effectiveness of Forskolin, ranging from the positive through to the neutral and negative.
‘They work perfectly with a healthy intake of food and lots of drinks. In 24 days I’ve lost 4kg.’
‘Really good product. Have noticed a notifiable difference in my appetite since taking these.’
‘Still waiting to see results.’
‘I started using the product 2 weeks ago. I still haven’t lost any weight. I was expecting to lose at least 4 lbs. I’m disappointed.’
‘Don’t buy it. Almost no pill can actually make you lose weight without actually changing your eating habits.’
Taking any medication or supplement carries risk, and you can never be sure how you will feel after trying something new. Some may feel they are getting somewhere by taking Forskolin, whereas others may feel it’s a waste of time. There will always be a question mark over whether some medication simply proffers and instills a placebo effect within the user and that merely the thought that the supplement is helping is enough to cause a positive mindset. This may lead to the user being more pro-active regarding diet and exercise as a way of “complementing” their supplement taking. The point is if it works for you and you are not experiencing any adverse side effects – then why not give it a go?
Who Should Take it?
If you are looking to reduce weight gain you could try Forskolin, although it’s not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise, studies indicate it can help to keep that weight from piling on. However, studies don’t go so far as confirming that Forskolin helps you to lose weight – so don’t take it if you are expecting to drop a dress size with absolutely no effort at all! It’s fair to say that the majority of adults can safely take forskolin, but there are some exceptions.
Forskolin is not recommended for pregnant women and those that are nursing babies, simply because there hasn’t been enough research to prove that supplements such as these are safe.
The body has enough to cope with during pregnancy and the early months of caring for a baby – without having to deal with unsubstantiated supplements too.
It’s also known that Forskolin doesn’t sit well alongside some other medication, if you are taking medication for your blood pressure or to thin the blood e.g. beta blockers or vasolidators, then supplements such as Forskolin may not be a good idea. If you are at all unsure, you need to seek advice from medical experts.
The Pros and Cons
Ok, so we have a general gist of what Forskolin is all about, what it is reported to be able to do and how it can play a part in keeping the weight off, let’s explore the pros and cons to remind ourselves that everything in life seems to have its Yin and Yang! Before we begin, we should remember that there have not been many studies on Forskolin (only two human trials) and research appears scant at best.
Studies and research indicate that Forskolin:
- Can help to stave off weight gain.
- Improves cognitive ability and focus.
- Increases your energy levels.
- Guards against cancer and inflammation.
- Can help to reduce high blood pressure.
- Can help to reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
- Can help to treat Glaucoma.
- Can help to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Is considered to be potentially useful in combatting Alzheimer’s disease.
- Can be taken with another supplement to increase effectiveness possibly.
The Bad Stuff:
Studies and research indicate that Forskolin:
- Isn’t suitable for pregnant or nursing mums.
- Isn’t suitable for those who have diabetes or a stomach ulcer.
- Isn’t suitable for those taking medication for blood pressure or blood thinners.
- Can cause minor gastro-related side-effects such as nausea and indigestion.
- Can cause tachycardia (faster heart-rate), leading to chest pain and breathlessness.
- Can cause hypotension – blurred sight, wooziness, fatigue and lack of focus.
It has been suggested that using Forskolin along with another supplement can provide better results relating to weight loss and preventing weight gain.
Forskolin and Garcinia Cambogia
On one side we have Forskolin –which originates from the plant Coleus Forskohlii, and on the other, you have Garcinia Cambogia (otherwise known as Malabar Tamarind), which is a fruit thought to be of Indonesia origins. Both are popular methods of encouraging the prevention of weight gain.
So, what happens when we bring these two so-called “powerhouse” remedies together? Forskolin sets off a chain of events – releasing an enzyme into your body and helping you to burn fat, Garcinia encourages your body to use the fat it has stored up for energy. Together it is believed that the two supplements work to help lower your levels of body fat, speed up your metabolism, put a cap on your appetite and point you in the right direction for healthy hormones.
We have previously mentioned a study that took place back in 2014, relating testing the combined effects of Forskolin and Rolipram on fifty designated lab rats. This study concluded that the rats that were given both supplements together enjoyed significantly better results regarding reduced weight gain. We already know a little about Forskolin but what is Rolipram? This inhibitor is known for its ability to reduce the breakdown of cAMP, so is thought to work well with the likes of Forskolin.
Taking these supplements together can help you to free up that fat and get it moving to muscles and body tissue where it can be used to provide energy. Forskolin activates the enzymes – encouraging the release of the stored fat – getting it ready to travel around your body. Carnitine is an amino-acid-like supplement that assists the fat on its journey – propelling it toward the mitochondria of the cells, (the place where fat can get burnt and exchanged for important fuel).
Forskolin and Apple Cider Vinegar
What actually happens when we combine forskolin and apple cider vinegar in the same glass? What these two ingredients do, is they boost health and weight loss benefits of one another:
- positive effects on the metabolism and digestion
Apple cider vinegar and forskolin both increase metabolism, which not only prevents the additional fat storage but also makes you healthier because the toxins are removed from the body at a regular and faster rate.
- help burn the excess tummy fat
Both ingredients contain compounds that burn fat, making it less likely to build around the belly area: a process that dissolves body fat, namely lipolysis which is forskolin’s responsibility, and with the acetic acid from the apple cider vinegar, your body can burn more fat than it would without this combo.
- suppress appetite
The two components give you the feeling of fullness, which eventually results in eating less, avoiding overeating, and consequently, reduced calorie intake.
The easiest and the best way to use forskolin and apple cider vinegar is by adding them to various drinks or just plain old water. Thinking the cocktail in the morning or before a workout should boost your energy levels and the whole fat burning process. Another way to consume them is by drinking them separately; apple cider vinegar before the workout and forskolin after. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that they both need to be diluted with a liquid, especially ACV since drinking pure might result in different health problems in the long run, such as teeth damage and upset stomach.
Raspberry Ketones Vs Forskolin
Raspberry Ketones are slower to work but can be effective in both men and women. They have more effects on the actual existing fat in your body than the Forskolin does, but both prevent further weight gain.
Forskolin has more health benefits than which you might make them worth taking regardless of your weight loss goals. You can’t deny that lower blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure are of a great benefit to many people and most people are on medication for one or the other. These are proven in studies as well, though the samples were small.
It’s natural too, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss Raspberry Ketones out of hand – they are derived from nature – and most medication started out as plants taken as traditional medicine.
We certainly prefer the overall health benefits of the Forskolin, over the Ketone and are keen to see further studies done on both these supplements.
Taking any medication or supplement has its risks, some users experience side-effects, and what is good for one person might not be suitable for the next. There is limited information available on Forskolin (it’s a little disappointing that only two human studies have been carried out). However, the results do indicate that it can help to stave off weight gain.
Reviews are varied (as they often are when it comes to supplements and the like). Some users swear by Forskolin and the benefits they feel it offers and there are those who cannot see any significant change in their body.
Taking Forskolin might not give you the miracle weight loss you have been seeking, but it may help you along the way. The positive results and reviews relating to Garcinia and Forskolin suggest that taking a combination of the two may be beneficial. Together they can help you reduce your appetite and give you an energy boost – motivating you to work out and giving you a positive outlook (while discouraging you from raiding the cookie jar when it all gets too much, and the hunger pangs gnaw at you)!
Whether you decide to take Forskolin or combine it with Garcinia Cambogia (or any other combination for that matter) be sure to follow the directions on the medication. Never exceed the stated dose and if you have any doubts or queries on whether taking a supplement will be right for you seek medical advice.
There are potential side-effects with every medication – so be aware of how you feel after you take anything new. It’s important to remember that there are many different brands on the market and they may be of varying strengths – hence we will stress the point again – check the instructions before you take anything!
- Take it as a way to aid diet and exercise, not as a substitute
- Dose with 250 mg twice per day
- Forskolin is completely safe as long as you stick to the recommended dosage.