Extracted from the herbal plant Coleus forskohlii, Forskolin is used to cure heart conditions and cancer. Coleus is traditionally used in Ayurveda in treating a variety of conditions, including digestive disorders, hypertension, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, congestive heart failure, infections, rheumatism, and angina.
Forskolin acts mainly by activating the enzyme adenylate cyclase, which results in increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP) in cells. Cyclic AMP belongs to a class of substances known as "second messengers" and is one of the most important cells regulating compounds. Among its many roles, cyclic AMP activates numerous other enzymes involved in diverse cellular functions. Hormones and neurotransmitters also activate adenylate cyclase, but Forskolin appears to be able to activate adenylate cyclase by itself. Thus, Forskolin can increase cyclic AMP without the assistance of hormones or neurotransmitters.
Effects of Cyclic AMP
Increased cyclic AMP has numerous physiological and biochemical effects on our bodies. Increased cyclic AMP can cause inhibition of platelet activation (resulting in decreased likelihood of blood clots), increased force of contraction of heart, reduced release of histamine (resulting in decreased allergy symptoms), increased thyroid function, and increased lipolysis (fat burning).
Several diseases are partially caused by decreased intracellular levels of cyclic AMP including asthma, eczema, psoriasis, obesity, angina, and hypertension. Forskolin increases the level of cyclic AMP at an intra-cellular level by activating adenylyl cyclase in various cell types.
Cardiovascular Effects of Forskolin
In primary studies, it was observed that the cardiovascular effects of forskolin are a result of its direct stimulatory action at the catalytic unit of sarcolemmal adenylate cyclase. Forskolin’s primary cardiovascular function is to lower blood pressure, while simultaneously increasing the contractility of the heart. It is believed that forskolin’s cyclic AMP-increasing ability helps in the relaxation of the arteries, and increased force of contraction of heart muscles. A study was conducted on 12 patients with congestive cardiomyopathy to analyze the effects of forskolin. Those who took forskolin doses showed major improvement in cardiovascular functions. They also showed improvement in left ventricular function. Colforsin daropate hydrochloride (COL) is a water-soluble forskolin derivative for the treatment of acute heart failure [study].
Forskolin for Glaucoma and Increased Intraocular Pressure
Elevated intraocular pressure can prove to be dangerous in people with ocular hypertension as it can lead to glaucoma. Glaucoma gives rise to visual loss characterized by nerve damage, loss of visual field, and glare. It can sometimes be painful too. Glaucoma is one of the major reasons for blindness in elderly people. Unfortunately, there are fewer resources in alternative healthcare practice available that can be beneficial in treating or preventing this severe condition. An imbalance in the production and drainage of fluid in the eye (aqueous humour) causes glaucoma. However, studies have proven that the application of one percent Forskolin eye drops showed decreases in intraocular pressure for up to five hours. Researchers believe that this significant improvement is a result of forskolin’s cyclic AMP-elevating effects. Regrettably, no commercial forskolin eye drops are available at this time. However, oral forskolin offers significant relief to people suffering from glaucoma and elevated intraocular pressure.
Forskolin for Depression
In many studies, it was observed that an imbalance of certain substances in the brain called neurotransmitters plays a major role in depression. Regulating the levels of these chemicals can highly control depression. The effectiveness of various antidepressants depends on which neurotransmitter it has affected to what extent. Depression is quite a complex situation to treat. What works for one, may not be helpful at all for someone else. Depressed patients generally have reduced levels of cyclic AMP. Forskolin activates adenylate cyclase bypassing membrane receptors and increasing the level of cyclic AMP. In vitro studies show that depressed patients show a transient mood elevation or stimulation after a 75 minute infusion of iv Forskolin.
Forskolin for Weight Loss
Forskolin promotes the production of enzymes called lipase and adenylate cyclase and thus, helps in weight loss. In research conducted at the Penn State University College of Medicine, it was found that many obese people have lower than normal cAMP production. Based on the study, scientists have stated that forskolin may be effective in promoting weight loss for people having a low level of cyclic AMP. Many weight loss supplements hurt the cardiac system as they raise blood pressure and stimulate cardiac tissues. Because of the way forskolin works, many scientists believe that it has no adverse effect on the cardiac system. Study results indicate a safe and effective way to maintain healthy body composition and increase bone mass.
Forskolin for Hypothyroidism
Forskolin aggravates the production of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones and stimulate thyroid hormone release [study] . This thyroid stimulation effect also helps in maintaining healthy body weight. Forskolin can be used as an additional treatment to conventional treatment.
Based on studies conducted so far, it can be concluded that forskolin has no significant side effects. Though, it is always advised to consult a doctor before medicinal use.
We are participating in #BlogchatterA2Z
If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to share it on your favorite social channels