Here's what you need to know...
- Forskolin increases metabolism, burns fat, breaks down triglycerides, and increases lean-body mass
- The thyroid stimulating strength of forskolin has been compared to TSH (thyrotropin). Thyroid hormone levels are important for leanness.
- Forskolin has increased total testosterone by 16% in male subjects during a 12-week trial.
The Benefits and Evidence
Forskolin, derived from the herb, Coleus forskohlii, raises thyroid hormone levels and testosterone. The increased levels of these two hormones naturally leads to an increase in fat burning and lean body mass (muscle).
Here's a rapid-fire collection of results from just a few studies:
- Male subjects in a 12-week trial experienced a 16.77 +/-33.77% increase in total testosterone compared with a 1.08 +/- 18.35% decrease in the placebo group.
- Female subjects in an 8-week study lost a mean of 9.17 pounds weight, while experiencing gains in lean body mass (without weight training).
- The total body weight of a mixed group of men and women in a 12-week study decreased from 74.7 kilograms to 73.5 kilograms while experiencing increases in lean body mass (without weight training).
- The forskolin users in a mixed-sex group of 50 test subjects experienced a 1.78 percent increase in lean body mass (compared with a 0.20 decrease in the placebo group) and a decrease in mean body fat from 35.8 to 34.0 percent (while the placebo group showed an increase from 38.8 to 39.0 percent).
There are lots of other studies, too, all pretty impressive.
Forskolin 1,9-carbonate is the actual chemical name of the compound, and it's found in Carbolin 19®.
How Fat Gets Broken Down
Forskolin stimulates an enzyme called adenylate cyclase, which increases cellular concentrations of a cellular messenger called cyclic AMP, or cAMP.
Now cAMP is one versatile little bugger in that it interacts with a host of different types of cells.
When you raise levels of cAMP, you lower blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregations (clotting), promote vasodilation (opening up of blood vessels), increase bronchodilation (improved breathing), and, most importantly to us, increase thyroid hormone secretion and speed up lipolysis (fat burning).
Forskolin's thyroid stimulating strength has even been compared to thyrotropin or TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
Not only does this increased thyroid hormone production increase fat loss, but increased levels of cAMP activate something called protein kinase that's been shown to activate hormone-sensitive lipases, which are involved in the breakdown of the building blocks of fatty tissue known as triglycerides.
Fat Goes Down, Lean Body Mass Goes Up
Forskolin increases levels of cAMP, which means you end up mimicking the effects of mild calorie restriction and exercise, without actually reducing calories or even exercising.
Of course, if you add exercise to the picture, you naturally get much more impressive results.
In addition to breaking down and burning fat, forskolin also increases lean body mass.
A higher level of intra-testicular cAMP mimics the action of luteinizing hormone and that translates to an increase in testosterone production, which as you know, is a pretty nice thing to have if you want more muscle.
This increase in testosterone levels of course contributes to additional lean body mass, but higher levels of cAMP in skeletal muscle also leads to an increase in protein synthesis (which is amplified by the complimentary increase in testosterone), so you get a nice two-pronged mode of action.
How You Get The Benefits
Conventional forskolin supplements, i.e., those made with ground up parts of the plant, suffer from the same triad of problems affecting most herbal supplements: standardization, potency, and absorption.
In short, plant products usually face the same challenges as plants themselves.
Ever eaten a great-tasting tomato, only to follow it up with a tomato that's only fit to be hurled at the neighbor who runs a leaf blower at 7 AM on a Saturday?
If something like taste varies so greatly, you can see how levels and potency of different plant chemicals can vary from crop to crop and even plant to plant. One bottle of an herbal supplement might work well while the next may not.
To get an effective product, extract and purify the active ingredient, in this case, forskolin 1,9-carbonate (the "carbonate ester" of forskolin). Then you'll get a highly pure compound that gives consistent results.
By extracting the active ingredients, you extend forskolin's duration of action from 4 hours to 12 hours.
Lastly, you need to improve the bioavailability (make it absorbable/usable to the human body) by combining forskolin 1,9-carbonate with a nutrient delivery system, so that your body can actually get the benefits.
Or you could just use Carbolin 19®.
Related: How to Burn Stubborn Body Fat
Related: Why Testosterone is Important for Females Too
Related: Anabolic / Lipolytic Agent for Building Muscle While Losing Fat
- Godard, et al., "Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese males," Obesity Research, 2005 Aug;13(8):1335-43.
- Majeed, 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.
- Tsuguyoshi, "Clinical report on root extract of Perilla Plant (coleus forskholii) in reducing body fat," Asanto Institute, Tokyo, Japan, 2001.
- Kamath, "Efficacy and Safety of Forslean in Increasing Lean Body Mass," Department of Ayurvedic Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India, 2005.