Coleus Forskohlii (Plectranthus barbatus), known in Poland as Indian coleus, is the only natural source of forskolin. This plant has been used for medical purposes for centuries. Today, it sparks much interest due to its therapeutic potential and the unique health properties of forskolin.
Forskolin raises cAMP levels by activating the adenylyl cyclase enzyme (3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate),6,8,9 which signals and releases a series of cellular processes, and also indirectly influences the synthesis of important enzymes and proteins.
A lower cAMP level correlates with many different diseases, which is why Coleus extracts are used with great success in the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases, asthma, angina pectoris, high blood pressure, glaucoma, dermatitis, psoriasis, insomnia, spasmatic pains and convulsions.2,6,9
Forskolin, by raising cAMP levels, acts as a smooth muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, reduces blood pressure and intraocular eye pressure, dilates blood vessels, and helps prevents neoplasma metastasis. It also prevents blood clots by inhibiting platelet aggregation. Moreover, forskolin inhibits the release of histamine and causes bronchodilation- which is why it is commonly used in asthma and angina pectoris.9
Forskolin increases testosterone levels, sperm mobility, and the secretion of thyroid horomones.4,9
Increased cAMP levels in fat tissue stimulate lipolysis - or the release of stored fatty acids and utilizing them as a source of energy. Additionally, higher cAMP levels have a positive effect on testosterone levels, which helps to increase lean body mass (i.e. Muscle growth).
Double-blind clinical studies were conducted on individuals consuming 250 mg/day of Coleus extract standardized to 10% forskolin or placebo for 12 weeks. In comparison to the control group (placebo), the group taking Coleus extract noted a significant decrease in fat mass, an overall increase in testosterone, and an increase in bone mass. The achieved effect is directly related to the activation of the adenylyl cyclase enzyme.4
The majority of available substances which facilitate weight loss depend on the mechanism of selective binding to α and β adrenergic receptors; i.e. Ephedryne, whose side effects cause an overstimulation of the heart muscle and increase in blood pressure. Moreover, substances acting on adrenergic receptors (sympathomimetics) become ineffective over time because their long-term use leads to a decrease in density of the adrenergic receptors (known as „down-regulation”). In contrast, forskolin does not stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and even helps to lower blood pressure and vasodilation. Long-term use of forskolin does not lower its effectiveness.4
There are about 300 different species of Coleus, but only Coleus forskohlii contains diterpene forskolin.5
Forskolin reduces inflammation of the urinary tract and allows the antibiotics to penetrate into places where bacteria usually survive - to the walls of the bladder wall.3
Forskolin does not dissolve in water very well.
Pregnancy. Do not use the extracts during pregnancy, as it may interfere with fetal development.
Studies on rats have proved that Coleus Forskohlii extract has negative effects on developing rat fetuses when used in high doses (880 mg/kg).1
1. Almeida, F. C. G., & Lemonica, I. P. (2000). The toxic effects of Coleus barbatus B. on the different periods of pregnancy in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 73(1-2), 53-60.
2. Dubey, M. P., Srimal, R. C., Nityanand, S., & Dhawan, B. N. (1981). Pharmacological studies on coleonol, a hypotensive diterpene from Coleus forskohlii. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 3(1), 1-13
3. Herbal treatment Forskolin may help knock out for urinary tract infections once and for all". News Medical. 2007-04-08.
4. Godard, M. P., Johnson, B. A., & Richmond, S. R. (2005). Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. Obesity research, 13(8), 1335-1343.
5. Paul, M., Radha, A., & Kumar, D. S. (2013). On the high value medicinal plant, Coleus forskohlii Briq. Hygeia, 5(1), 69-78.
6. Kavitha, C., Rajamani, K., & Vadivel, E. (2010). Coleus forskohlii: A comprehensive review on morphology, phytochemistry and pharmacological aspects. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 4(4), 278-285.
7. Lukhoba, C. W., Simmonds, M. S. J., & Paton, A. J. (2006). Plectranthus: A review of ethnobotanical uses. Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
8. Seamon, K. B., Padgett, W., & Daly, J. W. (1981). Forskolin: unique diterpene activator of adenylate cyclase in membranes and in intact cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 78(6), 3363-3367.
9. Yashaswini, S., Vasundhara, M., (2011). Coleus (Plectranthus barbatus) - A multipurpose medicinal herb. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. International Research Journal of Pharmacy.
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