What Is Forskolin?
Forskolin is from the Coleus forskohlii plant and increases intracellular cyclic AMP, which stimulates the secretion of thyroid hormone and testosterone (in men). It's one of the most researched natural ingredients showing the most significant benefits for burning fat and building muscle.*
In addition to increasing the thyroid's secretion of T3 and boosting testosterone, forskolin increases fat burning, breaks down triglycerides, stimulates protein synthesis in skeletal muscle, and activates thermogenic brown adipose tissue (BAT). Various studies validate many of these effects.*
For example, male subjects in a 12-week trial increased total testosterone by 16.77% compared with a placebo group that decreased by 1.08%. In a mixed group of 50 test subjects, the forskolin users lost 1.8% body fat compared to the placebo group that gained 1% fat.*
NOTE: Biotest-invented forskolin carbonate is pure forskolin with enhanced absorption and 12-hour extended active life.* Carbolin 19® and Alpha Male® supplements contain forskolin carbonate. The Hot-Rox® formula contains forskolin extract combined with piperine to improve its bioavailability.*
Benefits of Forskolin
- Increases TSH, increasing metabolic rate*
- Increases HSL, releasing triglycerides for fat burning*
- Increases cyclase activity, causing fat burning*
- Increases cAMP, increasing testosterone in men*
- Increases nitrogen retention, increasing muscle mass*
- Increases protein synthesis in skeletal muscle.
- Reduces blood pressure, supporting cardiovascular health.
- Inhibits platelet aggregation for less clotting.
- Increases vasodilation and blood flow.
- Increases bronchodilation and airflow through the lungs.
What You Need to Know About Forskolin
Science has long sought a compound that acts like "exercise in a pill." There's a substance that comes closer to that goal than anything else in the supplement world, and it's derived from the herb coleus forskohlii.
The active ingredient is called forskolin, and it can do a variety of things for the body that you usually can't get without dieting and exercising.
Forskolin stimulates the production of cyclic AMP, which increases testosterone and the thyroid's secretion of T4. Boosted T4 increases fat burning, breaks down triglycerides, increases protein synthesis in skeletal muscle, and activates thermogenic brown adipose tissue (BAT). Various studies validate these effects.
One Mind-Blowing Forskolin Study
Scientists recruited 30 overweight subjects: 15 received 25 mg of forskolin twice a day, and 15 received a placebo. After 12 weeks, the forskolin group had the following results:
- Significantly elevated free testosterone of 16.77%, compared to a 1.08% decrease in the placebo group.
- Increased lean body mass.
- Increased metabolic rate.
- Significantly decreased body fat percentage and fat mass (as determined by DEXA).
- Lowered blood pressure.
Keep in mind that the study didn't require the subjects to do any training or dieting. So the fat loss and lean-mass gain were unrelated to exercise or diet. Forskolin will, of course, work even better if you combine it with lifting and conditioning work.
How Does Forskolin Do That?
The scientists noticed that forskolin increases cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate). cAMP is an interesting compound because it acts as a kind of chemical switch that turns all types of body cells on and off.
For instance, increased cAMP causes the Leydig cells of the testicles to produce testosterone, which can lead to additional lean body mass. Increased levels of cAMP can also boost hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), which releases free fatty acids to be used as fuel by the body.
This same chemical also upregulates the thyroid, causing some researchers to compare forskolin's effectiveness with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
As far as the reduced blood pressure seen in the test subjects, forskolin has long been credited with having a vasodilatory effect, reducing blood pressure.
Three More Impressive Studies
- Female subjects in an 8-week forskolin study lost a mean of 9.17 pounds while experiencing gains in lean body mass (without weight training).
- A mixed group of men and women taking forskolin in a 12-week study decreased total body weight by 1.2 kilograms while increasing lean body mass (without weight training).
- The forskolin users in a mixed-sex group of 50 test subjects increased lean-body mass by 1.78 percent, while the placebo group lost 0.20 percent. The forskolin group decreased body-fat percentage by 1.8 percent, while the placebo group slightly increased body fat.
Does Forskolin Keep Working?
Many supplements lose effect over time due to receptor downregulation. Forskolin, however, is a "post-receptor" agent and continues working without diminishing effects.
Products Containing Forskolin
Research on Forskolin
- Godard MP et al. Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. Obesity Research. August 2005. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2005.162. Objective: This study examined the effect of forskolin on body composition, testosterone, metabolic rate, and blood pressure in overweight and obese (BMI > or = 26 kg/m(2)) men. Research methods and procedure: Thirty subjects (forskolin, n = 15; placebo, n = 15) were studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study for 12 weeks. Results: Forskolin was shown to elicit favorable changes in body composition by significantly decreasing body fat percentage (BF%) and fat mass (FM) as determined by DXA compared with the placebo group (P < or = 0.05). Additionally, forskolin administration resulted in a change in bone mass for the 12-week trial compared with the placebo group (P < or = 0.05). There was a trend toward a significant increase for lean body mass in the forskolin group compared with the placebo group (p = 0.097). Serum free testosterone levels were significantly increased in the forskolin group compared with the placebo group (P < or = 0.05). The actual change in serum total testosterone concentration was not significantly different among groups, but it increased 16.77 +/- 33.77% in the forskolin group compared with a decrease of 1.08 +/- 18.35% in the placebo group. Discussion: Oral ingestion of forskolin (250 mg of 10% forskolin extract twice a day) for a 12-week period was shown to favorably alter body composition while concurrently increasing bone mass and serum free testosterone levels in overweight and obese men. The results indicate that forskolin is a possible therapeutic agent for the management and treatment of obesity.
- Scarpace PJ, Matheny M. Thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue with age: post-receptor activation by forskolin. Pflugers Arch. 1996 Jan;431(3):388-94. ABSTRACT: beta3-Adrenergic-stimulated thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue (BAT) is diminished with age. beta3-Adrenergic receptors are positively coupled to adenylyl cyclase in BAT. To determine whether thermo- genesis, in response to direct activation of adenylyl cyclase, is also impaired with age, we examined whole body oxygen consumption, mitochondrial guanosine diphosphate (GDP) binding and BAT mitochondrial uncoupling protein (UPC) mRNA levels in 4- and 24-month-old F-344 rats following forskolin administration. We also examined the forskolin-induced change in body temperature in 4-month-old rats. In some instances, the results were compared with administration of the specific beta3-adrenergic agonist, CGP-12177. Forskolin (3.5 mg/kg) increased oxygen consumption but decreased body temperature. In subsequent experiments the BAT was unilaterally denervated. In these rats, the forskolin-(1.8 mg/kg) stimulated increase in oxygen consumption was similar in young and old rats. Forskolin increased GDP binding and UCP mRNA levels in both the denervated and innervated BAT pads. The increases were equal or greater in the BAT from senescent rats. These findings, coupled with our previous report of an impaired CGP-12177-stimulated increase in GDP binding in senescent rats, suggests beta3-adrenergic-stimulated, but not post-receptor-stimulated, thermogenesis is diminished with age.
- Majeed M et al. Diterpene forskolin: A possible new compound for reduction of body weight by increasing lean body mass. Nutraceuticals, March/April 2002, pp. 6-7. ABSTRACT: Maintaining or increasing lean body mass should be one of the important considerations of any weight loss strategy for the following reasons: 1. increase in lean body mass is proportionate to an increase in the body’s thermogenic response to food and the basic metabolic rate (BMR); 2. food induced thermogenesis controls body weight by an increase in catabolism of body fat (thermogenesis is preferentially fueled by fatty acids derived from body fat and/or from food); and 3. enhanced thermogenesis contributes to a buildup of lean body mass. An extract of Coleus forskohlii root, Benth. (Fam. Labiatae) standardized for diterpene forskolin was tested in an open-field study for weight loss and lean body mass increase. The study’s hypothesis was based on the recognized role of diterpene forskolin as the plant derived compound which stimulates enzyme adenylate cyclase and subsequently cyclic AMP (3’5’adenosine monophosphate) (1,2). Cyclic AMP may release fatty acids from the adipose tissue depots which may result in enhanced thermogenesis (3), loss of body fat, and theoretically increased lean body mass. Six overweight, but otherwise healthy, women were selected for the trial. Each participant was informed about the purpose of the study and was asked to sign an informed consent before entering the study. Each participant was examined by a physician at the inception and after 4 and 8 weeks of the study. The body composition was determined by bioelectrical impedance analysis. The forskolin formula was prepared in the form of two piece hard shell capsules. Each capsule contained 250 mg of the extract standardized for 10% forskolin, and each bottle contained 60 capsules. Participants were instructed to take one capsule in the morning and one in the evening, half an hour before a meal. Each participant was asked to maintain their previous daily physical exercise habits and eating habits. In addition, physical activity was monitored based on a questionnaire before and during the trial. The study was performed in an outpatient bariatric clinic at Hilton Head, S.C. and supervised by a physician specializing in bariatric medicine for over 30 years. During the eight week trial the mean values for body weight, and fat content were significantly decreased, whereas lean body mass was significantly increased as compared to the baseline (Wilcoxon matched pairs test). Weight loss was statistically significant.
- Kamath. Efficacy and Safety of Forslean in Increasing Lean Body Mass. Department of Ayurvedic Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India, 2005.
- Tsugiyoshi. Clinical report on root extract of Perilla Plant (coleus forskohlii) in reducing body fat. Asanto Institute, Tokyo, Japan, 2001.