How Safe is Forskolin and What Side Effects You Can Expect

Tue 14 February 2017 | -- (permalink)


After being featured on Dr. Oz as the new “it” weight loss and lean mass supplement, Forskolin suddenly became the new Holy Grail for those of us looking to lose a little weight or pack on a few pounds of muscle. Luckily, there is scientific evidence that it does aid in building lean mass and helps increase metabolism. But what is Forskolin? Is it safe, and if so, what side effects should you be aware of?

What is Forskolin?

Forskolin is a root extract from the Coleus forskohlii, commonly known as the Indian Coleus plant. Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have used the extract to treat various medical conditions for centuries.

Forskolin is known to improve levels of cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) in the body, which plays a critical role in various cellular functions. Increasing cAMP levels is beneficial for a number of medical conditions such as allergies, low thyroid hormone production and circulation issues. Other benefits that have been associated with Forskolin’s cAMP producing properties include increased availability of free testosterone and increased bone mass and assisting in blood pressure reduction.

Is it Safe to Take Forskolin?

Yes, for the vast majority of people Forskolin is safe. All scientific evidence indicates that most people can take Forskolin without worrying about any long-term side effects. However, there are people with certain medical conditions who should consult with their doctor before starting to take a Forskolin supplement. There are also certain medications that should not be combined with Forskolin.

What Side Effects Does Forskolin Have?

The next thing to know is that Forskolin does have potential side effects, but so does just about anything else we put in our body. The important thing to know is that for the vast majority of people any side effects are minor and short-lived. Some people taking certain medications or having certain conditions may be more prone to experiencing side effects. If you experience any severe or prolonged periods of side effects you should stop taking Forskolin and consult with your doctor.

Forskolin’s Effect on Digestive Health


Forskolin’s ability to increase cAMP levels throughout the body is the main reason it has been shown to be an effective tool in increasing metabolism, building lean mass and being potentially helpful with a variety of other conditions. Unfortunately, the increase in cAMP levels is also the cause of what many people find to be the most unpleasant side off effect of Forskolin: diarrhea.

The increased cAMP levels cause fluids to move through your intestines faster than normal. Until your digestive tract acclimates to the increased cAMP levels, you may experience loose or watery bowel movements. For most people, bowel movements return to normal in a week or two.

Diabetics and Forskolin


People suffering with diabetes should only take Forskolin after consulting with their doctor. Studies have shown that Forskolin is a catalyst for increased blood glucose and lipid levels. While the exact mechanism is unclear, it is possible that Forskolin counteracts the ability of insulin to reduce blood glucose levels. Since diabetics need to monitor blood glucose levels closely, using Forskolin without the supervision of a doctor is potentially harmful.

Joint Health


While there isn’t much scientific evidence available as to why, many people, specifically weight lifters and bodybuilders, have complained about aching joints after using Forskolin. Evidence suggests that Forskolin may be a catalyst for increased cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol are a known cause of joint pain and muscle aches. If you experience joint pain while taking Forskolin you should discontinue use for a few days until the pain goes away. Consult with a physician before you start taking the supplement again.

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding


There is not enough scientific evidence to determine if Forskolin is harmful to pregnant woman, breast-feeding women or their children. To be on the safe side it may be best to avoid using Forskolin while you are pregnant or breast-feeding. If you do decide to take Forskolin during this time, do so with the help of your doctor.

Heart Disease


People with heart disease should only use Forskolin under the direct care of their doctors. Forskolin is a known vasodilator and is proven to lower blood pressure. This can be dangerous in people with heart disease unless you get an “all-clear” from your doctor.

Bleeding Conditions and Surgery


Because of its role as a vasodilator, Forskolin has the potential to slow blood clotting. People with bleeding conditions should avoid taking the supplement until their condition has improved.

Similarly, you should stop taking Forskolin at least two weeks prior to any planned surgery. Again, Forskolin can cause wounds to bleed longer than they normally would. To be safe, you should discontinue use for at least two weeks after surgery or until surgical incisions have healed.

Interactions with Medications


There are only a few medications that Forskolin is thought to interact with. However, if you are taking any of them, you should consult with a physician prior to starting a Forskolin regimen.

Blood Pressure Medications

Forskolin is a vasodilator and is known to help lower blood pressure. If you take blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers, clonidine, or hydralazine you should only use Forskolin under the direct care of a physician. When combined with these medications Forskolin has the potential to reduce blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Blood Thinners

Just as with blood pressure medications, Forskolin should only be used under the care of a physician if you take any of the following medications:

  • Warfarin
  • Heparin
  • Clopidogrel
  • Ticlopidine
  • Pentoxifylline

Common Medications

Aspirin is technically a blood thinner, but is used for many reasons and contained in many medications. If you regularly take medications containing Aspirin, consult your physician prior to using Forskolin.

As you can see, for most people Forskolin is a safe supplement. It has shown positive results in helping people lose weight and add muscle mass. Most of the side effects are minor and only last a short time. However, as with anything, if you experience significant side effects while taking Forskolin, it is best to err on the side of caution and discontinue use until you can speak with your doctor.