Forskolin is an extract from the root of Coleus Forskohlii. C. Forskholii, a member of the mint family, is a perennial herb with fleshy and fibrous roots. It is commonly found in India, Burma and Thailand. The medicinal value of C. Forskohlii was first researched in early to mid-1980’s.
Forskolin activates adenylate cyclase by direct stimulation of the enzyme and modulating the enzyme activity. This leads to an increase in the intracellular levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), a second messenger in the signal transduction pathway. cAMP has been associated with several cellular functions. Some of the effects of cAMP are breakdown of fats, dilatation of blood vessels and airways, inhibition of blood clotting and improving heart function.
Owing to the results gathered from animal studies Forskolin has a number of potential applications as:
- An anti-obesity agent
- An anti-hypertensive
- In Cardiology – Improving cardiac function
- An Inotropic (an agent that modifies the force or energy of muscle contraction)
- Glaucoma – Reduces intraocular pressure
Forskolin’s effect as an anti-obesity drug has gained a lot of popularity. As a cAMP stimulator, Forskolin leads to production of an active form of Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL). This enzyme is directly involved in mobilizing triglyceride stores that release free fatty acids that are used as fuel with in the body, eventually leading to weight loss.
Apart from its anti-obesity effect, Forskolin has an emerging potential application as a natural tanning agent. A preclinical study conducted on mice by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown that Forskolin increases melanin pigmentation, and indirectly reduces the risk of skin cancer. But similar results were not achieved when used on human skin sample giving rise to skepticism regarding Forskolin’s efficacy in humans.
Although Forskolin has various potential applications, but its effects have not been completely established through large scale clinical trials to support its uses.
Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men – Michael P. Godard, Brad A. Johnson, Scott R. Richmond
Topical drug rescue strategy and skin protection based on the role of Mc1r in UV-induced tanning – John A. D’Orazio, Tetsuji Nobuhisa, Rutao Cui, Michelle Arya, Malinda Spry, Kazumasa Wakamatsu, Vivien Igras, Takahiro Kunisada, Scott R. Granter, Emi K. Nishimura, Shosuke Ito & David E. Fisher.