This week I had a patient bring in a bottle of a weight loss supplement, saying it had helped her brother lose a bunch of weight. She told me she was thinking of taking it but wanted my opinion.
The supplement was called forskolin and though I had heard of it I didn’t know much about it. Always willing to dig into supplement weight loss claims, off I went to the research database! What info is out there about forskolin for weight loss?
I didn’t find much, to be honest. I only located two studies published using human subjects.
One study administered 250 mg of a 10% forskolin extract twice daily to 15 men, with 15 men as controls taking placebo. Over 12 weeks, the men taking forskolin lost an average of 4.5 kg (9.9 pounds) of fat and gained an average of 3.7 kg (8.14 pounds) of lean mass, compared to no significant change in those taking placebo.
Interestingly, the authors found a small increase in testosterone levels in men taking forskolin. In addition, there was a significant change in free testosterone in the men taking forskolin compared to those taking placebo. Since testosterone increases muscle mass and decreases fat mass, and low testosterone contributes to obesity in men, this may explain some of the changes seen in the men taking forskolin.
The authors had the subjects fill out diet journals and found no difference before and after the study in how the subjects in either group ate.
The other study administered 250 mg of a 10% forskolin extract twice daily or placebo to 19 overweight and obese women. Over the 12-week trial there was no effect on weight, body composition or any other measured parameter in either group.
What side effects have been reported with use of forskolin? There is a risk of low blood pressure (producing dizziness and possible fainting episodes) and high heart rate (with palpitations). People taking blood thinners or medications for blood pressure or heart or lung conditions shouldn’t take forskolin without talking about it with their doctor.
What does all this mean? There is very little evidence that forskolin is helpful for weight loss. More research is needed to explore the risks and benefits.
Anyone looking for a proven effective weight loss program should consider Shaklee 180. Green tea extract is effective at increasing metabolic rate, leucine is a branched-chain amino acid that preserves muscle mass, and modest calorie restriction is most effective for gradual loss of fat tissue.
There are so many supplements out there marketed to produce “miraculous” weight loss. Beware of inflated claims of amazing results. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is (and might be dangerous to boot).
QUESTION: Have you ever tried forskolin? What was your experience?