What Is Forskolin Good For? (Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects)

Forskolin is mainly used as a weight loss supplement and has several other health benefits like reducing high blood pressure, treating glaucoma, and lots more.

With the increasing number of overweight and obese people in the United States, it is understandable that the use of a weight loss supplement like forskolin is now trending.

Forskolin is a supplement obtained from the roots of Indian coleus. It has been around for decades and is used for treating several health challenges.

The latest of its discovery is its ability to help people lose weight effectively.

How does forskolin work, and how should it be used? The answers to these and some other important points we’ll cover in this article.


What is Forskolin (Coleus forskohlii)?

It is a plant supplement found in the root of a mint family member called Indian coleus. This plant is widely available in Nepal, Thailand, and some parts of India.

It is also known as HL-362, pashanabhedi, makandiIndian coleus, and mao hou qiao rui hua.

Forskolin is not a newly discovered plant supplement, but its use as a weight loss supplement was recently discovered.

For years, the coleus plant is used for treating ailments like asthma and breathing disorder in different parts of the world, especially in the region indicated earlier where it is widely cultivated.

Traditionally, people take this supplement by boiling and making tea with the root of the coleus plant.

Forskolin became popular in the United States in 2014 when it was featured in the Dr. Oz’s show.

How Does Forskolin Work For Weight Loss?

Now that you understand what forskolin supplements mean and what it is used for let’s discuss how it works. What’s the science behind how forskolin works for weight loss?

Most weight loss supplements help maintain calorie deficit either by suppressing appetite, reducing digestion speed, or increasing metabolic rate, which burns more body fat. That is not the case with taking Forskolin supplements.

Taking forskolin supplements results in weight loss by aiding the creation of two enzymes: adenylate cyclase and lipase.

Those enzymes are accountable for releasing fatty acids from the body’s cells. The freed fatty acids are then used as fuel by the body. This is the same principle the body adopts whenever it needs to burn fats as energy. 

Therefore, the more adenylate cyclase and lipase the body gets, the more body fat will be freed, leading to weight loss (especially the dreaded belly fat).

However, the experiments explaining this science are only test-tube experiments and those conducted on animals. Therefore, the effects might be different on humans.

To obtain a significant result with forskolin, you also need to be disciplined with your food intake. The number of calories you consume must be less than the amount the body burns.

Clinical trials have proved that forskolin results in fat burning without reducing lean muscle mass.

Is Forskolin Good For Weight Loss?

To better answer this question, let’s look at some of the studies conducted on this plant supplement.

Two human studies were conducted to examine the effects of Forskolin supplements on weight loss, general body composition, and its safety profile (1, 2).

The first study uses 30 overweight and obese men. They were divided into two groups.

The first group was subjected to 250 mg Coleus forskohlii, containing 10% forskolin, and they took the supplement twice daily for 12 weeks. 

The second group was only given 250 mg of placebo. The study shows that the men in the first group lost more fat than the second group subjected to placebo.

The Forskolin group was also found to have an increased testosterone level and bone mass.

This may explain the reason behind their fat loss because increased testosterone has been found to have a relationship with fat loss (3).

The Forskolin group was also found to have a slight increase in lean muscle mass. However, this effect is so tiny that it is regarded as statistically insignificant in body composition.

The slight increase in lean muscle mass may also be associated with the rise in testosterone levels. 

The second study involved subjecting 23 overweight women to 500 mg of Coleus forskohlii, containing 10% forskolin per day. They took the supplement for 12 weeks.

Unlike the first study, the second study results show that Forskolin supplements have no significant effect on fat loss. However, it also reveals that it may help to prevent weight gain (4).

Based on this available evidence, we can conclude that Forskolin supplements can help avoid weight gain in women and stimulate fat loss in men.

What Are Other Health Benefits of Forskolin?

Coleus Forskohlii has been used traditionally for treating various ailments. It can help to improve overall health conditions.

Besides being used as a weight-loss supplement, forskolin may also be used to treat and manage the following health conditions:

Helps To Manage Weight in Overweight People

Overweight and obese people commonly use this supplement for bodyweight management. It helps to release fat from cells, making them available for energy use.

For a more significant result, you should combine exercise with this supplement. It would help if you also reduce your caloric intake.

By taking low-calorie, engaging in regular activity, and taking this supplement, you’ll burn more calories than you consume. This may eventually lead to weight loss. 

A research was conducted in 2011 to see further how effective this supplement is for weight management.

The research involves testing the effects of topical products made of caffeine, carnitine, tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine, retinol, and forskolin.

The result reveals that the treated area reduced in size, meaning they lost fats.

Stimulates Testosterone Formation

According to a report published by NIH, taking forskolin can significantly increase testosterone levels in males.

Since it helps increase testosterone levels, a person taking this supplement will likely have an increased level of muscle mass. (5)

Helps to Relieve Asthma

It has been used for years for treating asthma attacks. The effect of this supplement on asthma was examined and published in 2006 in the Journal of International Medical Research.

It shows that the Forskolin supplement works better than sodium cromoglycate, a common asthma drug. Therefore, one can conclude that the people who have been using forskolin for years to treat asthma are right. 

There’s another study that further attests to how effective forskolin is in treating asthma. The study was conducted in Mexico.

It shows that taking 10 mg of this supplement each day has similar asthma reduction effects as taking twice-daily inhalation of Qvar (beclomethasone), a common asthma drug.

Forskolin also helps to induce cyclic adenosine monophosphate release (cyclic AMP), a compound that helps to relax air passage. Therefore, this supplement is good for overall respiratory wellbeing.

Reduces High Blood Pressure

One of the typical traditional uses of forskolin is that it is used for treating specific heart problems such as hypertension.

A research was conducted in India to prove the effect of Forskolin extract on blood pressure.

The report shows that Coleus forskohlii extract reduces blood pressure in over 75% of the patients tested. This action may be why it is widely used to improve heart health. 

To get a more significant result, people with high BP should combine this supplement with eating meals that don’t increase their blood pressure.

Alcoholic drinks, sugar, caffeine, and high-sodium foods should be avoided. Instead, eat more high potassium food, dark chocolate, tea, and Mediterranean foods. 

Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Studies have shown that Forskolin extract can help to lower blood sugar levels.

A study was conducted on rats in this regard, and it was published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences. It reveals that forskolin may reduce fasting blood glucose levels (6)

However, more studies still need to be done to confirm this supplement’s efficacy in lowering blood sugar levels.

Lowers The Risk of Osteoporosis

Forskolin has also been found to help increase bone mineral density.

Such effects help prevent the risk of having osteoporosis, a disease that causes the bone to be porous, exposing it to fracture (7).

Protects Against Glaucoma

Forskolin is used for treating eye problems like glaucoma, an eye disease characterized by high inner eye pressure. It has been used for years for this purpose.

As a result of these effects, most eye drops meant for eye diseases contain forskolin. 

This claim is proven by studies conducted in 2013. The study reveals that forskolin is effective in treating patients with inner eye pressure related to glaucoma.

It shows that it can reduce the pressure by 10%, and the more the dosage of the supplement is taken, the more the eye pressure reduces (8).

Another research shows that eye drops containing 1% forskolin can reduce the inner eye pressure caused by glaucoma in adults (9)

How To Take Forskolin

Forskolin is available in different forms. It is known as over-the-counter (OTC) powder.

Forskolin powder supplement is also available as an inhaler that asthmatic patients can use to avoid asthma attacks.

It also comes in the form of eyes drop, which can be injected directly into the eyes to treat glaucoma or other similar eye diseases.

You can take forskolin if you wish to get rid of your body fats. It can also be used for some of the uses explained earlier.

You will find forskolin in most natural food stores. It is available in online stores, retail pharmacies, and supplements stores.

It comes in different sizes and concentrations ranging between 385 mg to 500 mg.

Dosage and Efficacy

If you purchase the Forskolin supplement, you should find its dosage on the product label. The doctor’s prescription is vital for inhaled or intravenous forskolin. 

You may want to know when the Forskolin supplementation you take will begin to work for weight loss.

Since its theoretical mechanism of action is freeing fatty acids from body cells, you can expect it to start working a few minutes after taking it.

Once the supplement is taken, it gets to burn fat and make it available for energy use.

However, if what you desire is a magical action where you lose weight immediately after taking weight loss products, you may want to look another way.Forskolin doesn’t offer such magical effects. 

What Are The Side Effects of Forskolin?

While forskolin is safe to use, it also has some potential side effects like every other weight loss supplement.

Note that more researches are required to understand forskolin better. Therefore, you should speak to your healthcare provider to know how the supplement may affect you.

However, based on the available evidence so far, some of the side effects of forskolin include:

  • Low blood pressure: one of the Forskolin benefits is reducing high blood pressure. It may eventually result in low blood pressure if its use is not adequately monitored. It can also interact with certain high blood pressure drugs like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers. 
  • Slow heart rate: if you take this medication without proper medical expert supervision, you may have a slower heart rate. This is because of its ability to influence heart functionality. 
  • Drug interactions: forskolin may interact with other drugs, including Anticoagulants and Antiplatelet drugs. It is safe, but it shouldn’t be taken by children, nursing mothers, and pregnant women since it lacks all safety research.


The side effects of forskolin can be managed. Therefore, it is a safe supplement to use. You can use it if you think you need to burn fats or reduce weight gain for any other uses, as discussed earlier.

Based on the studies conducted so far, forskolin may not be the magic wand that helps you lose a ton of weight instantaneously, but it works well by helping to burn calories gradually.

It also helps raise testosterone levels which have several incredible benefits, such as increasing muscle or body mass. 


Can you take forskolin together with garcinia cambogia?

Garcinia Cambogia is used for treating high cholesterol and obesity. There’s no recorded drug interaction between this supplement and forskolin.

Therefore, you can take this supplement together with Garcinia Cambogia.

You can also speak to your doctor first if you wish to combine the two supplements.

Does forskolin increase serotonin?

It doesn’t increase serotonin. This is unlike most common weight loss products that affect serotonin production to influence the digestion rate.

Can forskolin cause diarrhea?

Yes! One of the side effects of this supplement is that it may cause diarrhea.

Does forskolin interact with any medication?

Yes! It interacts with anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, and high blood pressure drugs like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.