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Forskolin For Weight Loss: Dosage And Risks

Weight loss has become one of the most commonly used terms. The rising need of the society to be healthy and lead an active and hearty life somehow centralises on the aspect of weight loss. Gaining excessive weight can be accorded as the root cause of almost all of the health problems, from heart diseases to high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Due to this, there are countless measures and methods established for weight loss. From weight loss focused exercises to diet plans and supplements, you are provided with a wide variety of approaches to lose that excess weight [1] .

One such measure gaining massive popularity in the realm of weight loss is forskolin, a supplement extracted from the forskolin Indian coleus plant. The Coleus forskohlii plant is medically and scientifically relevant because it contains forskolin.

What Is Forskolin?

A plant supplement, forskolin is an active compound found in the roots of the Indian coleus plant. Coleus is a member of the mint family and is commonly found in Thailand, Nepal, and parts of India. The plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine for centuries in central Africa, India, and other Asian countries [2] . The plant and its extract have been used in ayurvedic medicine for ages due to its healing properties that focus on your physical and mental well-being [3] .

With time, modern science also began recognising the possible health benefits offered by the plant extract. And forskolin can be obtained as an extract from the roots and cannot be obtained naturally from food [4] .

Role Of Forskolin In Ayurveda

The use of the coleus plant in Indian traditional medicines can be dated back to 3000 years. A critical part of ayurvedic medicine, the plant was extensively used due to the presence of the natural compound forskolin. It was used in the treatment of heart problems, digestive disorders, skin damage (burns or cuts), skin conditions (eczema and psoriasis), urinary tract infections (UTI), asthma, detoxification amongst various others [5] , [6] .

It was the extensive use of the plant in ayurvedic medicine that leads to further exploration by researchers by the 1970s. This has transformed forskolin from an ayurvedic remedy to a modern agent for weight loss. Ancient Hindu ayurvedic texts have described the efficacy of the plant and the compound. The root extract was not used for treating any single ailment but was used to improve 'general health and wellness'. The leaves and tubers of the plant are used to brew tea, which can be extremely beneficial for your intestine [7] .

Weight Loss Through Forskolin

Currently, the natural plant supplement has gained popularity due to the scientific assertion that it can aid in healthy and controlled weight loss. Studies point out that forskolin aids in weight loss by aiding in the creation of enzymes called lipase and adenylate cyclase which promote the freeing of fatty acids from the body's cells. Once the fatty acids are freed, they can be burnt as energy, thereby reducing the excessive amount of fat without harming your lean muscle mass [8] , [9] . Some studies have revealed that forskolin may aid in weight loss and muscle building.

Likewise, scientific proof reveals that upon consumption, forskolin has the ability to activate cAMP accumulation [10] . Cyclic adenosine monophosphate or cyclic amp (cAMP) is denoted as being the second messenger in your body, which aids the proper functioning of biological processes. When it comes to weight loss, the activation of cAMP is necessary as it aids in regulating the fat metabolism and blood glucose levels [11] .

The use of forskolin supplements for healthy weight loss has become one of the major trends, owing to its introduction as 'lightning in a bottle' and 'a miracle flower' by the Dr. Oz television show [12] . This gave a significant boost to the demand of forskolin as a weight loss supplement. Various nutritionists have claimed that the supplement can help you lose 10 pounds in one week, without the incorporation any changes in your daily diet and exercise plans. However, that has to be further studied on [13] .

At present, two studies have been conducted on exploring the effects of forskolin on weight loss in humans. In 2005, a 12-week study involving 30 overweight men were conducted to study the impact. One of the studies had half of the subjects take a placebo supplement or 250 milligrams of a 10 per cent forskolin extract orally two times, every day. The study revealed that forskolin helped in decreasing body fat percentage and fat mass. However, the participants in the study did not lose any weight [14] .

Another study conducted on female subjects followed the same dosage of a placebo supplement or 250 milligrams of a 10 per cent forskolin extract orally two times, every day. Forskolin helped prevent the development of new fat mass, thereby restricting fat gain [15] . It also helped reduce body fat, however, did not reduce body weight. And was reported that the respondents who had consumed the forskolin supplement have reduced hunger level and fullness feeling. This can be accorded towards weight loss because a person who is full and has a lack of appetite will not have the constant need to eat. This, in turn, can help reduce body weight [16] .

One of the other studies revealed that as forskolin increases the levels of cAMP, it helps speed up the process of fat burning by fuelling the compounds [17] . So, we can gather from the studies that the supplement is not entirely an effective solution to weight loss. But, it may improve body composition in men and prevent weight gain in women. More evidence has to be gathered to declare that forskolin can aid the process of weight loss.

It is significantly effective for obese people in managing their weight. A 2011 study tested the weight loss impact of forskolin through the application of a topical product that contained tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine, caffeine, carnitine, forskolin and retinol. The 12-week study revealed that the product was able to reduce excess fat from the waist, hips, buttocks and abdomen of the respondents [18] , [19] .

Dosage Of Forskolin

The typical dosage of the natural supplement is 100-250 mg, twice per day. This is the same in the case of weight loss [20] .

Forskolin is available in the form of over-the-counter (OTC) forskolin powder. For asthma patients, it can be prescribed in powder form via an inhaler. It can also be injected directly into the eye as part of a glaucoma treatment [21] .

Oral: 100 - 250 mg/day orally of an extract containing 10-20 per cent forskolin.

Inhalation: 10 mg of forskolin powder using an inhaler for Asthma.

*Caution: Consult a doctor before incorporating the supplement into your daily life. Only doctors can prescribe inhaled or intravenous forskolin.

Risks And Side Effects Of Forskolin

Some of the side effects of consuming the plant extract are as follows [22] :

  • Upper respiratory tract irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness when inhaled
  • Flushing, fast heartbeats, and low blood pressure when taken through an IV
  • Headache
  • Stinging of the eyes and enlarging of the blood vessels in the eyes

Forskolin poses risks to individuals who have polycystic kidney disease, low blood pressure, the ones who take medication for blood pressure or slow heart rate. Also, individuals taking blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs should not take forskolin [23] .

High blood pressure drugs such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, clonidine and hydralazine may interact with forskolin.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming forskolin [24] .

On A Final Note...

All the studies revealed that, although forskolin failed to 'effectively' lose weight it did help stop weight gain. Following a proper diet and healthy lifestyle is the ultimate path towards losing weight. However, consuming the supplement along with a healthy lifestyle may contribute towards shedding some that excessive weight. So, try not to depend on forskolin alone for effective weight loss as you may be disappointed.

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Story first published: Monday, April 8, 2019, 11:30 [IST]
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