Forskolin is one of the newer supplements to find itself under the lens of the media and is quickly filling up the shelves at your local health store. This is the result of some research which is to say that a few studies have found it may have health benefits and this has led to lots of people jumping to conclusions and prematurely releasing products.
That’s not forskolin’s fault though, so let’s not write it off out of hand! Read on and we’ll take a look at whether forskolin is a product that belongs on your shelf or whether it’s just another bottle of capsules that don’t do much except hurt your wallet and anger your bank manager…
What Is Forskolin?
Forskolin is a substance that is extracted from the plant ‘coleus forskohlii’. It is a chemical with a number of interesting potential effects on the body.
One such effect is its apparent ability to work on cAMP and CREB in the cells. CREB is a ‘cellular transcription factor’ and without getting overly technical, these are components that help the cells react to certain hormones produced in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. In turn, this encourages the body to burn more fat for energy and increases the efficiency of the mitochondria.
Interestingly, this is also thought to have positive effects on neuroplasticity and as such, forskolin is found in some nootropic products such as CILTeP. CREB is thought to bind to DNA sequences and thereby encourage ‘downstream gene transcription’ – essentially allowing the brain to form new connections and keep them there (1).
Another benefit of forskolin that is of interest to those looking to lose weight and build muscle, is that it may also increase testosterone production. As the anabolic ‘male’ hormone, this leads to increased muscle size and strength, as well as improved definition and reduced fat storage.
Is it Worth Your Money?
So that all sounds pretty good, should you buy it? No.
The problem as with all these things and as we mentioned right in the opening paragraph, is that manufacturers are jumping on findings that really need a lot more studies before anything can be confirmed.
One criticism levelled at the use of forskolin for boosting brain power and cellular energy for example, is that the studies have so far only been on mice and were using much higher quantities than we could easily consume (2).
Likewise, while forskolin may raise testosterone to some degree, this isn’t something you’re likely to notice in your training or in your results. There are hundreds of testosterone supplements on the market that are sold on a similar basis and in every case, the benefits you can expect to gain are slim to none.
That isn’t to say that substances like forskolin aren’t interesting, or that they don’t warrant further research. It just means that there are much better ways to spend your money. If you’re keen to raise your testosterone levels meanwhile, just do more exercise, get more sleep and spend some more time in the sun!