September 29

Can Coleus Forskohlii Help with Weight Loss?



Traditional medicine has been the initial spark that precipitated a lot of the scientific research that underpins the practice of modern medicine. So it’s probably not surprising that Coleus Forskohlii is today a widely used health supplement. That’s because over the years, researchers have found it has multiple benefits for the body’s wellbeing. 

Among these benefits is thought to be the metabolism of fat. This has been the premise for its use as a weight loss supplement, use that received significant impetus from the endorsement of health industry influencers such as Dr. Oz. Unfortunately, influencers are prone to making sensational claims. This article looks to explore the veracity of Coleus Forskohlii’s purported capabilities in weight loss.

Quick Highlights

  • Coleus Forskohlii has traditionally been used to treat conditions such as asthma and cardiovascular illness.
  • Forskolin, derived from the plant’s name, is the main compound behind Coleus Forskohlii’s health benefits.
  • The science does mostly seem to be in support of Coleus Forskohlii weight loss efficacy especially as relates to fat reduction, appetite suppression, and blocking weight gain.

What is Coleus Forskohlii

Also known as Coleus barbatus and scientifically as Plectranthus barbatus, Coleus Forskohlii is a plant native to the Indian subcontinent. Belonging to the mint family of plants, it has been widely used in medicine systems such as Ayurveda. The plant’s root contains forskolin, a compound thought responsible for much of its medicinal prowess.

Forskolin has been shown to activate the adenylate cyclase enzyme. By doing so, it increases the cellular levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). This process is an important tool for the regulation of various body functions. These functions include digestion, metabolism, and hormonal regulation. This has led to the belief Coleus Forskohlii may support weight loss. Does it though? We’ll find out.

Research on Coleus Forskohlii and Weight Loss

A number of studies have examined the impact of Coleus Forskohlii on weight loss. We’ll take a look at some of the more pivotal ones.

Body Fat, Appetite and Weight Gain Regulation

We start off with a 2005 study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. Here, 23 female mildly overweight subjects were served with either a placebo or 250 mg of Coleus Forskohlii extract (with 10% forskolin) twice a day for 12 weeks. Researchers found the group on Coleus Forskohlii supplementation were less likely to report hunger or gain weight.

A different study published in the Obesity Research journal that same year involved 30 overweight and obese male subjects. They were put on either a placebo or 250 mg of 10% forskolin for 12 weeks. The forskolin group exhibited significant reduction in body fat as well as an increase in lean mass.

These studies were relatively small so one may hesitate to run with the findings. However, the results were corroborated by a multi-study review published in the Personalized Medicine Universe journal in 2016. The review analyzed seven clinical studies and concluded Coleus Forskohlii supplementation had significant benefits on body composition in overweight and obese subjects.

We can conclude that Coleus Forskohlii can help regulate weight gain, body fat and appetite.

Not-So-Direct Weight Loss Benefits

Not all studies show such a direct link to weight loss. For example, a study published in 2015 in the Nutrients Journal had 30 subjects given either a placebo or 250 mg Coleus Forskohlii extract (containing 10% forskolin) for 12 weeks.

The results? No notable differences in the reduction of hip or waist circumference. However, the Coleus Forskohlii group saw an increase in HDL cholesterol (i.e. good cholesterol). So even in instances where Coleus Forskohlii isn’t directly driving weight loss, it contributes to mitigating some of the health risks associated with obesity.

Safety Considerations

Coleus Forskohlii may trigger adverse reactions in some users. The most commonly reported side effect is digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach cramps. Less likely reactions include headache and fatigue.

You probably noticed that in the studies we cited, participants took 250 mg of Coleus Forskohlii extract once or twice a day. In each of these studies, no subjects reported adverse reactions. So it would be safe to conclude 250-500 mg Coleus Forskohlii extract (with 10% forskolin) is the ideal quantity for safe weight loss.


The science shows coleus Forskohlii is good for weight loss management. In particular, it does exhibit benefits for controlling weight gain, body fat, appetite, and cholesterol.


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