Coleus Forskohlii has been used in traditional medicine as a tonic for many ailments, including low libido, respiratory problems, reduced vitality, bone weakness, and so on.
In modern day supplements, it has been included as a fat burner, testosterone booster and ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) booster.
Its active component, Forskolin, usually accounts for 10% of the total Coleus Forskohlii dosage. While 500mg (for 50mg forskolin) a day split into 2 or 3 separate doses appears to be recommended – derived from the scientific studies – the jury is still out as to what to optimal dose is.
It seems for now, some is certainly better than none, but there is no need to exceed 500mg per day.
Fat Loss with Forskolin
When you drink coffee or take caffeine, the feeling of stimulation comes from a molecule called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).
Elevated levels of cAMP stimulates fat burning (via depletion of triglycerides in fat cells) and heightened protein synthesis rates. These are mutually beneficial as lean mass is increased and fat mass is decreased.
Coleus forskohlii (forskolin) is indeed synergistic with caffeine and other stimulants of cAMP.
One study involved female subjects and the coleus group showed a significant decrease in weight compared to the placebo.
Henderson S(1), Magu B, Rasmussen C, Lancaster S, Kerksick C, Smith P, Melton C, Cowan P, Greenwood M, Earnest C, Almada A, Milnor P, Magrans T, Bowden R, Ounpraseuth S, Thomas A, Kreider RB – Effects of coleus forskohlii supplementation on body composition and hematological profiles in mildly overweight women – J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005 Dec 9;2:54-62. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-2-2-54
A study involving overweight men showed significant decreases in fat mass. There was also an improvement of bone density and a testosterone boost (this study is referenced in the next section).
Lean Mass and Bone Mineral Density
Perhaps the best partner to fat loss is lean mass gain. The two together basically mean you are getting toned.
‘Lean mass’ is inclusive of muscle and bone density.
Coleus forskohlii has been shown to improve lean muscle mass as well as bone density.
This same study showed a testosterone boost. This can be attributed to cAMP working in the testicles of men as well as fat cells. The result is an increased production of testosterone.
NOTE: Women can use it without fear of the same level of testosterone increase as the men experience.
Godard MP(1), Johnson BA, Richmond SR – Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men – Obes Res. 2005 Aug;13(8):1335-43.
HDL – the ‘Good’ Cholesterol
HDL – or High Density Lipoprotein – is the good guy in the cholesterol transport cycle. It gets fatty lipids and other detritus from our arteries and takes them to our livers to be wasted. In general you want an average total cholesterol count, with higher HDL than LDL.
Coleus notably increases HDL. One study involving people 50 to 80 years old showed an increase in HDL and reduction in blood pressure.
The subjects even lost a few percent off their Body Mass Index (BMI)
Jagtap M(1), Chandola HM, Ravishankar B – Clinical efficacy of Coleus forskohlii (Willd.) Briq. (Makandi) in hypertension of geriatric population – Ayu. 2011 Jan;32(1):59-65. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.85729
Conclusion and Recommendation
Coleus Forskohlii is a general good-guy ingredient to have in your life. Not only does it burn fat and improve body composition, but it can help with blood pressure and heart health.
Owing to its natural stimulant properties, it can act as a mild anti-fatigue agent as well.
Here’s a link to our review of Forskolin 250 which contains 250mg of this quality supplement in a daily dose. It is one of the more successful products available