Thursday, 10 April 2014

Forskolin - get the body you want



Forskolin is a herbal supplement sourced from the Coleus forskohlii plant. This plant has been used for centuries to treat a range of complaints varying from heart problems to digestive issues, and is a traditional Ayurvedic herb used in Indian medicine. What makes forskolin so interesting however, is its weight loss and body re-composition effects, and evidence is growing to support these claims.


The benefits of forskolin


Forskolin has a range of benefits associated with its use, including:
Source: Flickr
  • Blood pressure control
  • Heart protection
  • Increases beneficial HDL cholesterol
  • Assists weight loss
  • Increases lean muscle
  • Regulates insulin
  • Prevents asthma
  • Improved respiration
  • Treats glaucoma

    Forskolin increases cAMP



    The benefits of forskolin largely stem from its ability to activate cAMP. This is primarily responsible for the body re-composition effect, and the benefits to the heart. Forskolin is unique in the way it activates cAMP though, being able to increase cAMP directly. Other substances with similar effects are only able to increase cAMP indirectly. As such, forskolin is a one of a kind supplement and may pave the way for the creation of targeted medicines for heart disease and obesity.


    What is cAMP?


    Source: Flickr
    cAMP is a secondary neurotransmitter. Its primary function is to carry the messages from certain hormones into cells. Because the hormones can't penetrate the cells themselves, cAMP carries the message from these hormones in order to allow them to work. What this means is that if you increase cAMP, you can increase the response of cells to hormones that break down fat and increase protein synthesis. In effect, you increase your metabolism and benefit your body composition by decreasing fat and increasing lean muscle.

    You might be more familiar with the effect of cAMP when it comes to your morning coffee. Like forskolin, caffeine is able to increase the effects of cAMP, but caffeine achieves this by preventing its breakdown, rather than increasing the amount available. This is thought to be responsible for caffeine's effect on weight loss, which is typically found to be around a 5 percent boost to your metabolism.

    Of course, caffeine only has a minor effect on cAMP, and if the association between caffeine and forskolin has you worried about jitters and the other side effects of caffeine, these are unlikely. This is because caffeine mainly works to block adenosine in the brain, preventing this neurotransmitter from making you sleepy. The side effect of blocking adenoside is that the 'fight or flight' hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine (adrenaline and noradrenaline), are no longer inhibited by adenosine. These neurotransmitters cause the anxiety and over-stimulation that occurs with too much caffeine, so forskolin is unlikely to have these effects. In fact, whilst caffeine increases blood pressure, forskolin lowers it.


    Forskolin lowers blood pressure

    Source: Flickr

    Most medicines and supplements meant to increase weight loss do so by increasing the activity of your CNS system. As such they have a stimulant effect. These medicines include caffeine, amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine), phentermine (Duromine), and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta).

    The problem with this is that whilst they can increase weight loss and help people with obesity to reach a healthier weight, they increase blood pressure and can be damaging to the heart. Forskolin is actually used medicinally to improve heart output in people with heart disease, and it decreases blood pressure.

    Whilst forskolin increases weight loss, it doesn't carry the stimulant side effects of pharmaceutical anti-obesity drugs, so you won't suffer from sleeplessness, jitters, paranoia, or anxiety with its use. These days, many people have high blood pressure which places them at risk of heart disease and the last thing you want to do is take a stimulate to exacerbate this. In comparison, forskolin can treat hypertension and help you achieve a healthier blood pressure naturally.


    Forskolin benefits the heart


    There is a great deal of active research into the beneficial effects of forskolin on the heart. Currently, forskolin is even used to stimulate heart output in patients with heart failure. In a study of congestive heart failure using human heart tissue, forskolin was found to increase heart output.

    There is also evidence to believe that forskolin may be a useful treatment after certain heart surgeries like mitral valve replacement. Mitral valve replacement is currently associated with a lower survival rate, and forskolin has been found to benefit the condition by reversing force defects. Forskolin may be able to increase survival by regulating cardiac output in this way.

    Adding to the benefits of forskolin for your heart, is the ability of forskolin to raise HDL cholesterol. This form of cholesterol is the beneficial type that prevents atherosclerosis and other forms of heart disease.

    Source: Flickr

    Lose weight and build muscle


    Forskolin can prevent weight gain, and owing to its ability to raise cAMP levels, it may be able to increase lipolysis. This increase in lipolysis leads to weight loss because the ability of your body to burn fat is increased.

    Source: Flickr
    In a 12 week study of obese men, forskolin caused significant weight loss. Subjects lost 11 percent of their total body fat, gained just under 6 kgs of muscle, and increased their bone density by over 8 percent. This suggests that forskolin has a dramatic effect on body composition and can not only help you lose weight, but replace it with muscle and healthier bones, making you stronger, leaner, and less pone to osteoporosis and injuries.

    Whilst forskolin benefited body composition, it also boosted free testosterone levels. In aging men where testosterone levels are declining, this could help increase vitality and health in general. Because forskolin increases testosterone by increasing the function of leydig cells in men and boosting the testosterone production that is already occurring, this effect is limited to males. It is unknown whether forskolin could have a similar effect on estrogen in women.

    Another beneficial effect on body composition could be traced to forskolin's effects on insulin. Forskolin increases sensitivity to insulin following ingestion of glucose, so it may be able to benefit diabetes and regulate energy and glucose levels.


    Asthma and respiration


    When given to subjects as a treatment for asthma, Forskolin is able to reduce the severity of asthmatic attacks and prevent them from occurring. It was found to be a significantly better treatment for asthma than sodium cromoglycate, which is a medicine commonly used to treat asthma. Forskolin might show promise as a future asthma treatment.


    Forskolin treats glaucoma
    Source: Flickr


    Glaucoma is a disease of the eye where the pressure inside the eye increases. This rise in intra-ocular pressure is able to cause permanent damage to your vision, and can even send you blind if its left untreated. Forskolin has been found to be a natural treatment for glaucoma.

    In the treatment of glaucoma, forskolin is applied topically as eye drops. Subjects in a clinical study who used the eye drops were examined and a 70 percent reduction in outflow pressure was found.

    More importantly, forskolin continued to maintain a reduced intra-ocular pressure for up to 5 hours after application. This could mean that forskolin is an effective way to treat glaucoma and prevent blindness associated with the diseases.


    How to use forskolin


    Forskolin should be taken twice a day for best effect, as this is how it is administered in most clinical studies. The weight loss and muscle building effects of forskolin occured following a twice daily administration of 250mgs of forskolin extract, which was standardised to 10 percent. This means that 25mgs of actual forskolin was taken twice a day.
    Source: Flickr

    As with any supplement, consult your doctor before use, especially if you suffer from a chronic disease. Whilst forskolin is safe and has been used in its natural plant root form since ancient times, only your doctor knows your unique medical needs and can provide the right guidance to achieve the best results.


    Best forskolin supplement


    To get the most benefits, the forskolin supplement you choose has to be standardised for forskolin. Coleus forskohlii supplements that aren't standardised may not contain enough forskolin, and you lack the knowledge of exactly how much is there. Whilst it doesn't matter whether the Coleus forskohlii extract is standardised to a certain percentage, you want a product that can give you at least 25mgs of forskolin per dosage.

    When looking for a forskolin supplement, always look at the amount of forskolin present. Some supplement manufacturers will list their ingredient as Coleus forskohlii rather than forskolin, and this refers to the whole plant, so 100mgs of Coleus forskohlii is not 100mgs of forskolin. A reputable product will list the actual forskolin component.

    For a great forskolin supplement, try Forskolin 250 by New You Vitamins. This product is standardised to contain 20 percent forskolin, yielding 50mgs per capsule. You can either take one of these capsules a day, or split the contents in half to take it twice daily and meet the same dosage used by the studies. Because you get 90 capsules per bottle, the entire bottle will last 3 months.


    Source: Flickr

    Side effects of forskolin


    Forskolin is a mild supplement, and is largely devoid of side effects. However, forskolin does decrease blood pressure, so if you suffer from low blood pressure, or currently take medications that decrease your blood pressure, forskolin is not for you. You should also avoid forskolin if you take blood-thinning medications or have clotting problems.

    Blood pressure that falls too low can lead to fainting and fatigue, as well as headaches. The headache that occurs in this case is because blood flow in the brain is increased. For those who are curious, this is why caffeine is used as a headache remedy, because it constricts blood vessels and alleviates these headaches, and the headache that occurs following caffeine withdrawal is a rebound from this effect.


    More weight loss information


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    Source: Flickr
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