Forskolin For Weight Loss: Does It Really Work

Forskolin is an active compound from the roots of the Indian coleus, a tropical plant from the mint family. Indian coleus is widely cultivated not just in India but also in Nepal and Thailand.

It is popularly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as a cure for various illnesses. Local people typically boil the roots of the coleus and turn them into tea for general wellness.


Forskolin also has other potential health benefits which include treating asthma, glaucoma and cancers. It also helps improve heart strength, lowers blood pressure and stimulates suntan. Today, it is widely used in weight loss supplements.

How does forskolin help with weight loss?

According to an article published in the Medical News Today, in theory, forskolin can have a weight loss benefit by helping create lipase and adenylate cyclase enzymes.

These two enzymes free fatty acids from our cells. Once the fatty acids are free, the body burns them as fuel, thereby reducing fat without affecting your muscle mass.

It is important to note though that this theory does not take into account that to shed extra weight, a calorie deficit must happen.

This happens when you burn more calories that you take in through food and drink. So, while forskolin may raise fat burning capabilities, this is irrelevant without a nutritious diet and exercise to support the calorie deficit.

Weight loss supplements typically support a calorie deficit by suppressing appetite, reducing the efficiency of digestion and increasing metabolic rate.

Forskolin does not cause any of these. However, some clinical trials have shown promising results, supporting the theory that forskolin promotes fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass.

Does forskolin actually help you lose weight?

There are two small studies that investigated the effects of forskolin on weight loss in humans.

One study was conducted on 30 overweight or obese men. Fifteen of the participants were randomly chosen to receive forskolin supplement during the duration of the 12-week trial. The other 15 participants received a placebo. The result showed that those who took forskolin have lost a significant amount of fat but their body weight did not change.

In another study, 23 overweight women were given 250 mg of forskolin twice daily for 12 weeks. The result showed no significant effect on weight loss. However, it suggests that forskolin may help prevent further weight gain.

The two studies suggest that forskolin may slow weight gain among women and help men lose fat. However, further studies are needed to say that forskolin is the ultimate solution for weight loss.

Other health benefits of forskolin supplements

While forskolin is popularly used in weight loss supplements, it has many other health benefits.

  • In the same study on obese men, it also shows the effect of forskolin in stimulating testosterone formation which helps maintain muscle mass.
  • A study conducted on 40 patients of either sex and suffering from moderately persistent asthma shows that forskolin helps reduce asthma attacks. Other studies also support this. Forskolin boosts the levels of cyclic AMP compound which helps relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes. As a result, it makes breathing easier.
  • Forskolin also helps relieve pressure in the eyes which is a common symptom in glaucoma.

Dosage for forskolin

The optimal dosage for forskolin has not been established yet. It typically varies depending on your intended purpose and overall health condition. The typical dosage is between 100 and 250 mg of coleus forskohlii (10% forskolin) taken twice per day.

Side effects

While the two studies we mentioned above show that forskolin seems not to have any adverse effects in humans, its safety profile has not been fully evaluated.

Moreover, if added as an ingredient to other supplements, its level of concentration would vary from one brand to another. It’s important to check the labels for the recommended dose.

WebMD lists some potential side effects such as:

  • Fast heart beats
  • Flushing
  • Low blood pressure (when taken through an IV)
  • Irritation in the upper respiratory tract
  • Coughing
  • Tremor
  • Restlessness
  • Headache
  • Stinging of the eyes

Is forskolin worth trying?

Forskolin is widely used as an ingredient in many weight loss supplements. If you are taking one and are experiencing some side effects such as those listed above, there is a chance that it is due to the presence of forskolin in the supplement.

Forskolin also interacts with certain medications. WebMD cautions users not to take forskolin if you are taking:

  • Blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs
  • Certain high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, clonidine and hydralazine

Also, to be on the safe side, avoid forskolin or any supplement that contains this ingredient if you have polycystic kidney disease. It is also not known if this compound is safe for pregnant and nursing women so it’s best to just avoid it.

Bottom Line

Forskolin is a compound that you’ll commonly see as an ingredient for supplements that promise weight loss benefits.

Further studies are needed to prove its benefits for weight loss but the two studies already conducted show promising results.

It’s worth mentioning that while there are no reported adverse effects of forskolin, it may cause side effects to other people.

It may also interact with certain other medications. If in doubt whether it is safe for you or not, consider getting in touch with your health care provider for advice.

For more information on weight loss supplements read this: Best Diet Pills That Really Work