You’ve heard it before, time and time again. The gimmicks and the taglines.. Lose weight fast! The ultimate secret to weight loss! Sound familiar? Well, this time it’s actually different. Our main goal at Elivate Nutrition is providing clean healthy and natural supplements. That’s why we're going to talk about Forskolin, a natural herbal supplement that is a derivative of the Coleus Forskholii plant, which has been proven to help improve your total body composition, through it’s unique mechanism of action on the messenger molecule cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).
What Is Forskolin?
Forskolin is a member of the mint family and is an herbal extract from the roots of the Coleus Forskohlii or Indian Coleus Plant. Coleus Forskohlii is a perennial herb with corpulent fibrous roots. It originates and grows in in sub-tropical temperate regions such as India, Asia, and Africa.
How Is Forskolin Used
With a long history of use in traditional medicine, Forskolin has been prescribed to treat a wide variety of areas including lung, heart, and urinary health issues to even being used in traditional Indian and Asian cuisine as soured pickles used in various relishes. Yes, you read that right. Sounds pretty gross!
What Does Forskolin Do?
Despite us westerners not being so inclined to using traditional herbal remedies as adjunctive medicines to our preferred prescribed medications, Forskolin is commercially used as a supplement to mitigate weight gain, increase fat loss, and increase testosterone levels. How does it achieve this? Specifically, Forskolin directly stimulates almost all known forms of adenylyl cyclase and therefore, increases intracellular levels of cyclic AMP or cAMP. Due to this fact, Forskolin has extensively been used in clinical research specifically as a tool in biochemistry as a positive control variable to effectively increase the levels of cAMP. cAMP is an important secondary messenger necessary for the proper biological response of cells to hormones and other molecular or extracellular signals.
So, let’s dig into the science-based facts that show us exactly how Forskolin can help improve your total body composition.
Forskolin Helps Increase Lean Body Mass & Decrease Body Fat
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas, 30 overweight male subjects were administered 250mg of forskolin over a 12-week period, to examine the effects of forskolin on total body composition, serum free testosterone levels, metabolic rate, and blood pressure. The research concluded that with the ingestion of 250mg of forskolin twice per day, the results elicited favorable enhancements in total body composition by reducing body fat percentage by 7.8%, increasing bone mass by 35% and also increasing bioavailable serum free testosterone by almost 34%. How is this possible?
As a cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) stimulator, forskolin leads to the production of the active form of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). HSL is directly involved in the mobilization of triglyceride stores that release free fatty acids to be used for fuel within the body.
Thus, forskolin activates the body to use stored body fat as fuel for an energy source.
Godard, M. P., Johnson, B. A. and Richmond, S. R. (2005), Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men. Obesity Research, 13: 1335–1343. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.162
Forskolin Can Help Increase Testosterone Levels
It’s important when you’re evaluating total body composition, to also consider ways to increase lean body mass and not only focus on reducing body fat. One critical component of lean body mass to take into consideration is maintaining a sufficient and healthy supply of endogenous testosterone. As mentioned earlier, forskolin has a positive effect on serum free testosterone levels, through the activation and influence on cAMP. So how does, the stimulation of cAMP promote the body to secrete more testosterone?
Testosterone is the by-product of many hormonal bodily reactions. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone is secreted by the hypothalamus and controls the pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) by the anterior pituitary. LH regulates the production and secretion of testosterone by the Leydig cells of the testes, and FSH stimulates spermatogenesis. Because LH exerts its effects on Leydig cells of the testicles (stimulating production of testosterone) through cAMP, one may expect an increased level of endogenous testosterone with the use of forskolin.
Barry, Z., Chen, H. (2000) Regulation of Leydig Cell Steroidogenic Function During Aging. Biol Reproduction 63: 977–981.
Bondanelli, M., Ambrosio, M., Margutti, A., et al (2003) Activation Of The Somotropic Axis By Testosterone In Men: evidence for a role of hypothalamic growth hormone-releasing hormone. Neuroendocrinology 77: 380–387.
How Do I Take Forskolin to Help Improve My Total Body Composition
According to the research study conducted by the University of Kansas, male subjects were administered with 250mg of forskolin, each day for 12 weeks. Therefore, to illicit a similar response, to help improve total body composition by increasing free testosterone, and reducing body fat, it appears that 250mg for 12 weeks would be the optimal minimum requirements, male or female. Since forskolin has a direct effect on cAMP, we recommend taking it prior to your workouts for increased muscle contractions and optimal athletic and exercise performance.
The research indicates that Forskolin can definitely help improve total body composition, by reducing body fat, increasing bone mass, and increasing testosterone levels. However, with that said it’s important to remember, that there really is no magic pill when it comes to weight loss and reaching your fitness and body goals. Proper nutrition and exercise are always the most important components to your health. Supplementation is what we like to call the third pillar in optimizing your performance. Thus, before you introduce forskolin into your daily routine, make sure you have the first two pillars - nutrition, and exercise plan optimized first.