Coleus Forskohlii

by Nickolaos D. Skouras, PhD.

Introduction

This "power" herb has an active ingredient in it called forskolin. It has been used in ayruvedic medicine for many years. Forskolin's basic mechanism of action is that it increases the amount of cyclic AMP (adenosine monophosphate) in cells by activating an enzyme called adenylate cyclase. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is one of the most important secondary messengers in the cell. It is considered to be one of the most important cell regulating compounds.

Under normal circumstances, cAMP forms by adenylate cyclase activation due to hormonal stimulation at the cell receptor site. However, forskolin seems to bypass this reaction and allows for an increase in intracellular cAMP to occur. Why is it important to increase cAMP levels? Well, there are several benefits of this to athletes including relaxation of the arteries and smooth muscles, lowering blood pressure, enhanced insulin secretion (which can help drive carbohydrates and protein into muscle cells for energy and recovery), increased thyroid hormone function (which can help enhance metabolic rate), and significantly increase lipolysis (fat burning). Forskolin also seems to benefit other cellular enzymes as well.Research link on coleus forskohlii

The breakdown of fat for fuel (lipolysis) is actually regulated primarily by Acetyl CoenzymeA and secondary cAMP. forskolin has been shown to not only enhance lipolysis but it may also inhibit fat storage from occurring. This is very good news for individuals trying to lose bodyfat and get lean. Another way that forskolin may allow for fat loss to occur is by stimulating thyroid hormone production and release. Thyroid hormone controls metabolism and can enhance metabolic rate, which may translate into more fat loss.

One of the overlooked benefits of forskolin includes its stimulation of digestive enzymes, which can allow individuals to digest and assimilate their food better. It has been shown to increase nutrient absorption in the small intestine.

Forskolin has been shown to be safe and effective and has a great amount of potential as a sports supplement. As with most dietary supplements, more human research is needed but the future looks bright for this compound. The recommended dosage for this supplement is 8-10 mg of active forskolin (standardized from coleus forskohlii) two to three times daily.p

References:

  1. Ammon HPT, et al.(1985), "Forskolin: From ayruvedic remedy to a modern agent," Planta Medica 51- 473-477.
  2. Seamon KB,et al.(1981), "Forskolin; A unique diterpine activator of cAMP-generating systems," J Cyclic Nucleotide Res 7: 201-224.