The Benefits of Forskolin

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Forskolin is a natural substance said to offer a number of health benefits. Extracted from the Coleus forskohlii plant, forskolin is known to activate adenylate cyclase (an enzyme involved in regulating many cellular functions).


Proponents claim that forskolin can help prevent or treat a variety of health conditions, including:

Forskolin is also said to promote weight loss, protect against cancer, and improve heart health.

Health Benefits

To date, there is very little scientific support for any claims about forskolin's effects on human health. Here's a look at several findings from the available research on forskolin:

1) Weight Loss

Forskolin may help treat obesity, according to a small study published in Obesity Research in 2005. For the study, 30 overweight or obese men were assigned to receive either forskolin or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, members of the forskolin group showed a greater decrease in body fat and a greater increase in lean body mass (compared to members of the placebo group). Study participants treated with forskolin also experienced a significant increase in bone mass.

2) Eye Drops

Early research on animals suggests that eye drops containing forskolin may help protect against glaucoma. For example, two studies on rabbits found that forskolin may help reduce intraocular pressure (a key factor in the development of glaucoma).

3) Tanning

Laboratory experiments on animals indicate that applying forskolin to the skin may cause tanning. In a mouse-based study published in Nature in 2006, for instance, scientists showed that forskolin may help manipulate the skin's pigmentation and induce tanning without exposure to ultraviolet light. However, there's no evidence that forskolin can promote tanning in humans.

4) Asthma

Forskolin may help fend off asthma attacks, a 2006 study from the Journal of International Medical Research suggests. The study found that asthma attacks were significantly less frequent among patients who took forskolin capsules (compared to those who were assigned to treatment with inhalations of sodium cromoglycate, a common asthma treatment). Lasting six months, the study involved 40 children and adults with mildly or moderately persistent asthma.


Forskolin may cause a number of side effects, including a headache and hypotension (a condition marked by abnormally low blood pressure). In addition, forskolin should be avoided by people with polycystic kidney disease and people using blood pressure medications and/or blood-thinning drugs.

Using It for Health

Although preliminary research suggests that forskolin may offer beneficial effects, due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend forskolin for any health condition. If you're considering the use of forskolin for a chronic health problem, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen. Self-treating a chronic condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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