Forskolin and its many benefits have played a central role in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
Recently, those benefits – including the ability to regulate weight, lower blood pressure, and more – have attracted the attention of health-conscious Westerners.
As more and more studies have confirmed its benefits, the number of forskolin supplements on the market has exploded.
Our team of experts sifted through scores of candidates and determined that the following are the best forskolin supplements of 2020.
1. Essential Elements Pure Forskolin
Essential Elements Pure Forskolin is just that. 20% pure standardize forskolin extract in every capsule. Only two of these capsules per day will enhance your weight loss efforts, lower blood pressure, and stave off numerous age-related conditions.
What we like: Essential Elements Pure Forskolin is completely free of artificial binders, fillers, artificial preservatives, and GMOs. Every batch undergoes rigorous third-party testing, and every veggie capsule is produced in the company’s GMP-certified facility.
Flaws: Nothing worth mentioning.
2. Ultraliant Forskolin 500
Ultraliant Forskolin 500 is another highly pure and potent forskolin supplement designed to help you fight off food cravings, lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health. Each Ultraliant capsule contains 20% standardized forskolin extract.
What we like: Ultraliant Forskolin 500 is free of genetically modified organisms, artificial ingredients, common food allergens, and artificial binders and fillers. They are proudly produced in the USA under the watchful eye of the FDA.
Flaws: Tends to sell out quickly.
3. Nutricost Forskolin
Some forskolin supplements can be surprisingly expensive. Not Nutricost Forskolin. The company makes it their mission to keep prices as low as reasonably possible on all their supplements without compromising quality. And once again, they succeed.
What we like: This is a no-nonsense forskolin supplement that is free of unnecessary additives, artificial preservatives, and counterproductive fillers. Each capsule contains the 20% pure forskolin extract we want to see.
Flaws: The capsules are made from bovine gelatin, so vegans beware.
4. Life Extension Forskolin
Life Extension is known for their attention to detail and rigorous third-party testing of their products. Their Forskolin supplement is simple and effective. Each serving provides 100 mg of standardized forskolin extract to help you lose weight and more.
What we like: Life Extension Forskolin is a potent supplement that will help people lose weight, control high blood pressure, and even arrest the degenerative effects of glaucoma. And that’s just for starters.
Flaws: The maltodextrin in the capsules is highly processed.
5. Solaray Super Forskohlii Extract
While the standard dosage for a forskolin supplement is 100 mg per serving, the fact is, not everyone needs that much. Solaray gives people a choice with their 40 mg per capsule Super Forskohlii Extract.
What we like: While the dosage is not as large as with some other forskolin supplements, the purity of Solaray Super Forskohlii Extract is up there with the best of them. There’s no artificial anything, no GMOs, and they’re produced in a GMP-certified facility.
Flaws: Not the best choice for just losing weight.
6. Dacha Forskolin
Dacha Forskolin is an outstanding choice for those seeking to control their weight, blood sugars, or blood pressure. It’s a pure, potent forskolin supplement that will provide maximum benefits with minimum side effects.
What we like: You won’t find any food allergens in these capsules. No artificial ingredients, genetically modified organisms, or highly processed fillers. Just 20% forskolin by volume for 100 mg per serving.
Flaws: With only 30 capsules in the bottle, you’ll be running out quickly. The capsules can also be a bit uncomfortable going down.
7. NOW Diet Support with Coleus Forskohlii
Now Supplements puts a lot of thought into all their products. That care and attention is on display here with their coleus forskohlii Diet Support capsules. While the focus here is squarely on the forskolin, it’s surrounded by a slew of complementary ingredients that facilitate its activity.
What we like: Now doesn’t just dump a bunch of vitamins and minerals together to fill up the ingredient list. Everything here is here for a reason. Because it facilitates the activity of the forskolin so that you reap optimal benefits.
Flaws: You may have to take up to 4 capsules per day to see results.
8. Only Natural Forskolin 500
Only Natural Forskolin 500 provides 100 mg per serving of 20% standardized forskolin extract. Lose weight, stabilize your blood pressure, give your heart a break, increase testosterone levels, and more with this pure, potent, effective forskolin supplement.
What we like: Only Natural Forskolin 500 is free of common food allergens like yeast and soy, free of preservatives and free of GMOs at every stage of the production process. Get the forskolin you need with none of the other stuff you don’t.
Flaws: With only 50 capsules per bottle, you’re going to run out fast.
9. Olympus Labs Forslean
Olympus Labs Forslean provides 90 mg of pure forskolin extract per serving. That is in keeping with general FDA guidelines and industry standards. If you are looking to lower blood pressure or boost testosterone levels, this is a good choice.
What we like: What we like about these capsules is that they’re smaller than most others and therefore easier to swallow. That’s a big consideration for older folks who sometimes have a hard time choking down a big capsule.
Flaws: Relatively expensive compared to some others. We’re also not big fans of proprietary blends.
10. Rewind Forskolin Extract
Last but not least on our list is Rewind Forskolin Extract. Like most of the best forskolin supplements on our list, each Rewind Forskolin capsule contains 20% standardized forskolin extract. That’s 100 mg per serving twice per day.
What we like: Forskolin provides an array of health benefits for young and not so young alike. Rewind Forskolin Extract will ensure you are able to take advantage of all of them, without having to deal with artificial ingredients or GMOs.
Flaws: The pills can be a challenge for some folks to get down.
Who Needs a Forskolin Supplement?
Because of its wide-ranging health benefits, the number of people who should consider taking a forskolin supplement is vast.
Studies suggest those seeking to gain control over their weight could benefit from forskolin. Likewise, numerous studies point to forskolin’s ability to lower blood pressure. Meaning anyone dealing with high blood pressure should talk to their doctor about incorporating forskolin into their dietary routine.
Forskolin is also known to have a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels. So diabetics should also consider talking to their doctors about forskolin. As should people suffering from psoriasis, men dealing with ED, those with asthma, and women suffering from recurrent UTIs.
Older folks are also likely to benefit from the fact that forskolin can increase serum testosterone levels. This important benefit means they will get more from their exercise, which will enable them to maintain muscle and bone mass well into old age.
How We Ranked
Because forskolin has only come to the attention of the Western medical establishment in recent years, the amount of human clinical data available to support or debunk claims related to its effectiveness is limited. This means we needed to rely more on animal studies to provide a scientific foundation than we usually do when assessing a supplement.
Beyond the pure scientific considerations, we eliminated supplements that only included forskolin as one of several ingredients. That means many popular ‘fat burner’ supplements did not rank for our list. We also took a dim view of forskolin supplements that included caffeine. Since caffeine can (and often is used to) mask the activity of forskolin.
Next, we looked at dosages. While the FDA does not regulate forskolin, they do suggest that the average adult should think before taking more than 500 mg in one serving. So our ideal dosage was two 250 mg capsules (20% forskolin), twice per day. Typically before lunch and dinner. If the recommended serving is more than two capsules, it should be because each capsule contains less than 20% forskolin, or because the capsule is small. Say, 150-200 mg.
Speaking of capsules, we gave preference to capsules made from vegetable gelatin rather than bovine gelatin. We also gave the nod to those supplements that avoided artificial binders, fillers, or preservatives. And we were not impressed by forskolin supplements that came with lots of vitamins and minerals on board.
Finally, we took price into consideration. We were a bit surprised at the range of prices for this particular supplement, one of the most extreme price ranges of any supplement we’ve examined. We could see no possible justification for forskolin supplements costing more than $50 for an average-sized bottle of 30 or 60 capsules. So any such products did not make our list.
Forskolin can help you lose weight. Forskolin’s purported ability to promote weight loss stems from its proven ability to enhance metabolic activity. The degree to which it will actually burn fat is still open for debate, as there have been no large-scale clinical trials involving humans, yet. But there have been several small studies. And they strongly suggest forskolin can help overweight individuals lose weight (1).
Forskolin can help lower blood pressure. While forskolin’s effectiveness as a weight loss supplement is still being studied and debated, there is no debate over its ability to reduce blood pressure. Several studies have each concluded that forskolin is quite effective in lowering blood pressure (2). Especially in older individuals. It is so effective, in fact, that doctors have begun cautioning people with low blood pressure not to take too much forskolin.
Forskolin has cardiovascular benefits. Anything that helps lower blood pressure is going to be good for your heart. And, as we’ve just seen, forskolin has a proven ability to do just that. The cardio benefits of forskolin don’t end there, however. Forskolin also thins the blood (3). That, in turn, helps increase blood flow and relieves pressure on the heart muscle that does not have to work so hard.
Forskolin is good for your skin. Forskolin can provide this benefit either through the ingestion of capsules or by direct application of forskolin suspended in a cream or ointment. There have not been any big human studies looking into the skin benefits of forskolin, but there have been numerous animal studies (4). They have concluded that forskolin may provide protection against UV damage, prevent skin cell death, and perhaps fend off skin cancer.
Forskolin can help stabilize blood glucose levels. Researchers have discovered that forskolin can reduce blood glucose levels in both healthy and diabetic animals to a significant degree (5). The results of these animal studies open the door to the possibility that forskolin could be a useful tool in the fight against diabetes in humans. If you are diabetic, you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of augmenting your diet with forskolin.
Forskolin has shown promise as a treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma (6) is a degenerative disease of the eyes caused by a buildup of pressure on the optic nerve. Blindness caused by glaucoma cannot be undone. However, if caught early enough, the progression of the disease can be stopped and even reversed. When used in concert with rutin (7) and B-vitamins, forskolin has demonstrated the ability to relieve pressure on the optic nerve (8).
Forskolin increases testosterone and may enhance bone mass in older men. Numerous studies have demonstrated that forskolin increases serum testosterone levels in older men (9). Given how important it is for older individuals to maintain strength, having more testosterone available to enhance exercise effectiveness and build muscle mass can only be a good thing. Research also indicates forskolin may increase bone mass, which can help fend off devastating fractures late in life.
Forskolin may help men with ED. Forskolin may help men with ED in a couple of ways. First, erections are dependent on robust blood flow, and as we discussed earlier, forskolin can enhance blood flow throughout the body. The second way forskolin may help men with ED is by increasing serum testosterone levels. Testosterone is vital to maintaining the male sex drive and achieving and maintaining erections (10).
Forskolin helps control appetite. Forskolin is a natural appetite suppressant that promotes metabolic activity and creates a feeling of satiety. That feeling of being full is crucial in helping people reduce the amount they eat and get their weight under control.
Forskolin may help people with asthma. A study conducted in Mexico on children and adults with asthma concluded that forskolin was more effective than the popular asthma medication sodium cromoglycate in preventing asthma attacks (11). The study followed participants for six months and showed that those taking forskolin suffered only half as many asthma attacks as those taking sodium cromoglycate.
Forskolin may help people with diabetes. There are several ways forskolin can be beneficial for diabetics. The first is its ability to lower blood glucose levels. The second is its ability to improve the body’s insulin responsiveness. And the third is by blocking proteins responsible for causing diabetic retinopathy (12)(13). Any one of these results would be significant. Taken together, they suggest forskolin has a bright future as a treatment for diabetes.
Forskolin may be effective in treating some types of cancer. There is a growing body of evidence – some compelling (14), some of dubious value – that forskolin may be able to kill certain types of cancer cells, particularly multiple myeloma. That is not to say that forskolin can cure some types of cancer. But it may prove itself to be another valuable tool in the anti-cancer toolbox.
Forskolin may help alleviate symptoms of psoriasis. Psoriasis (15) is a deceptively complicated skin condition in which once ordinary skin cells wind up dividing at hundreds of times their normal rate. This increased cell division is thought to be the result of an imbalance between the neural messengers cAMP and cGMP. Forskolin regulates cAMP expression and thus restores the balance between cAMP and cGMP messengers.
Forskolin may have cognitive benefits. It is too early to state with any authority that forskolin can help prevent Alzheimer’s. But recent animal studies have shown some promising results. In one such study (16), rats given forskolin developed less plaque in their brain than other rats. They also experienced less inflammatory activity in their brains. Both of these results suggest forskolin may have a future role to play in various cognitive therapies.
Forskolin lowers BMI. Most doctors no longer rely strictly on pounds or kilos to determine whether a person is a healthy weight. Instead, they rely on the Body Mass Index, or BMI. BMI is determined by dividing a person’s weight by the square root of their height. This gives a much more accurate accounting of a person’s overall health than weight alone can. Forskolin has demonstrated an ability to positively affect BMI in both animal and human studies (17).
Forskolin increases metabolic activity in the thyroid. Thyroid activity plays an important role in the regulation of body weight (18), with thyroid dysfunction often blamed for out of control weight gain. Forskolin has demonstrated an ability to increase thyroid activity. This increased activity results in enhanced thyroid hormone production, which, in theory, should promote weight normalization.
Forskolin may be useful in preventing recurrent UTIs. The overwhelming majority of women will experience a UTI in their life. For many, urinary tract infections will become a recurrent theme. Antibiotics are the most common therapeutic response to UTIs, but many of the microbes behind these infections are developing resistance to antibiotics. Forskolin is showing some promise as an alternative treatment for recurrent UTIs (19).
Forskolin produces few side effects. The known side effects of this traditional herb are inexorably tied to its benefits. That is, it can help reduce blood pressure, but that may not be what some people need. Also, it can help lower blood glucose, but that may interfere with a person’s current diabetes treatment. And it can thin the blood, but that may cause problems if a person is currently being treated with blood thinners.
Forskolin is safe. There have not been any large scale studies to determine the safety of forskolin. But there are mountains of anecdotal evidence to support the notion that forskolin supplements are safe. If there was even a smattering of scientific evidence that forskolin presented a risk to the average person, the FDA would have ordered it removed from the shelves, as they recently did with the reflux medication Zantac (20).
Forskolin does not require a prescription. Because it contains no controlled substances, has few side effects, and poses no risk of addiction, forskolin does not require a prescription. It can be obtained by any adult in supermarkets, health food stores, supplement stores like GNC, and, of course, by way of countless online retail outlets such as amazon.
Q: What is forskolin?
A: Forskolin is a compound derived from the Indian Coleus plant. It has been an essential component of Ayurvedic medicine (21) for thousands of years. As the name implies, Indian coleus is native to the Indian subcontinent. Over the centuries it has also spread to many neighboring countries, including Myanmar and Thailand. Forskolin is prized for its effect on metabolism, as well as its ability to treat conditions like asthma and high blood pressure.
Q: Can forskolin help people lose weight?
A: Clinical evidence is still limited, but there is some. And some of it is pretty compelling (22). It strongly suggests that forskolin can indeed help overweight persons lose weight. The exact mechanism is not completely understood, but the results of these limited human trials have been backed up by animal studies that serve to bolster the testimony of scores of people who have used forskolin and claim to have lost weight.
Q: What is cAMP?
A: When researching forskolin, you are bound to see the term ‘cAMP’ a lot. The full term is actually ‘cyclic amp’ (23). Cyclic amp is a metabolic messenger of sorts that carries the effects of certain hormones through cellular membranes so that those cells can benefit. In basic terms, more cAMP activity typically equals more metabolic activity. Forskolin has the ability to trigger cAMP activity, which is the source of its weight loss capabilities.
Q: Is forskolin just the supplement du jour?
A: Hardly. Forskolin has been a key component of ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Traditional healers have long used it to produce weight loss, increase vitality, treat diabetes, and more. What’s happened lately is that Western medical science has finally caught up to the potential of forskolin. Health studies have been initiated and are confirming that forskolin is a powerful compound with a multitude of potential benefits.
Q: How much forskolin should I take?
A: Most forskolin supplement makers recommend taking anywhere from one to four 250mg capsules per day. One or two is the most commonly recommended amount, and that amount is backed up by NIH recommendations (24). Because most folks take forskolin to help them lose weight, it is recommended they take one or two capsules half an hour before lunch and again half an hour before dinner.
Q: Is forskolin an antioxidant?
A: Forskolin has many laudable characteristics and capabilities, but being antioxidant is not one of them. It can provide some of the same benefits as antioxidants when it comes to heart health, blood pressure, and skin. But it is not an antioxidant.
Q: What should I look for in a forskolin supplement?
A: The particulars of each product may vary slightly. But as a general rule, a forskolin supplement should not contain artificial colors, flavors, binders, or fillers. It should not contain caffeine, and it should be at least 20% forskolin. Also, the forskolin itself should be in extract form, and not contain any parts of the actual plant, which can be dangerous to consume (25). Also, you should not need to take more than three or four capsules per day.
Q: Does forskolin have any side effects?
A: If a person has naturally low blood pressure and takes too much forskolin, it may further lower blood pressure to the point that it becomes an issue. Because forskolin can thin the blood, it is recommended that you stop taking it two weeks before surgery. And because there have been no studies examining the impact of forskolin on pregnant or breastfeeding women, they are advised to avoid it out of an abundance of caution.
Q: Do forskolin supplements include any banned substance?
A: Forskolin is an entirely natural substance that has been in use for thousands of years. Reputable forskolin supplements do not contain banned or otherwise regulated substances of any kind. Forskolin itself is not a controlled substance and has no ability to alter consciousness or produce addiction.
Q: How soon will I see results from taking forskolin.
A: It depends on what type of results you are looking for. If you are taking forskolin to improve cognitive health, then any changes will likely take time and be extremely subtle. However, if you are taking forskolin to lose weight, how long it takes will vary from person to person depending on their metabolism and their ability to control what they eat. No weight loss supplement will work if the person taking it continues to eat whatever they want.
Q: Does forskolin contain caffeine?
A: No reputable forskolin supplement will contain caffeine. If you see caffeine on the ingredient list, it may well indicate that the supplement is low in forskolin and is trying to mimic its metabolic actions by loading you up with caffeine.
Q: Should athletes consider taking forskolin?
A: Because it can boost testosterone levels (26) forskolin is potentially useful in helping people improve their performance in the gym. Forskolin also has the ability to increase metabolism. So, given both of these facts, it would make sense for athletically inclined individuals to look into forskolin supplementation.
Q: Does forskolin have any benefits for seniors?
A: It certainly does. The older we get, the more important it is to control our weight. An aging cardiovascular system simply cannot deal with the stress and strain of obesity the way a 30-year-old system can. Forskolin can help older individuals get their weight under control. Forskolin can also reduce blood pressure in older individuals, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. And, by increasing testosterone, it can help older men stay strong.
Q: Can forskolin help me sleep better?
A: A lot of folks claim that forskolin helps them get to sleep and improves the overall quality of their sleep. As of this writing, there is no clinical evidence to support this claim. In fact, it seems rather counterintuitive since forskolin is known to increase metabolism. And something that makes your internal engine run faster (caffeine, for example), is not likely to make it easier to get to sleep.
Q: Can I buy forskolin powder and mix it with a smoothie?
A: Forskolin powder is available, but tends to be sold in bulk. That is, you would need to buy 10 or maybe even 25kg of it at a time. That is enough to last most people for many years. Such large amounts of forskolin cost thousands of dollars. You would also need to make sure the powder was correctly stored so that it did not get moldy or otherwise degrade. If it did, your large investment would be wasted.
Q: Does forskolin produce adverse reactions with any medications?
A: Forskolin is generally considered safe and is not known to produce any specific adverse interactions with prescription medications. However, because of its metabolic and other activities, the FDA advises that people taking prescription medications for any reason should always talk to their doctor before adding a supplement to their diet. It is also generally recommended that alcohol consumption be kept to a minimum (27) when taking forskolin.
Q: Are all forskolin supplements the same?
A: Unfortunately, any product that garners widespread attention is going to attract fraudsters looking to cash in. Forskolin is no different. So the answer to the question is, ‘no, all forskolin supplements are not the same’. Some are little more than caffeine pills relabeled as ‘forskolin’. Others may have traces of forskolin in them, but are mostly just useless fillers. All the products on the above list have passed critical muster and are the real thing.
Q: Are forskolin supplements expensive?
A: As with other supplements, the cost of forskolin will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. But even the most expensive forskolin brands should be well within most people’s budgets. Most wind up costing less than a dollar a day. Some are significantly less than that. Just be aware that some boast about their low cost, but they achieve that discount price by giving you fewer capsules.
Forskolin is one of the most sought-after and highly debated supplements on the market today. While some of the claims made for it seem more than a little speculative, it nonetheless has some very real benefits, including the ability to lower blood pressure, regulate weight, and stabilize blood sugars.
The forskolin supplements that earned a spot in our rankings are pure and potent and free of artificial additives. They do not require a prescription, contain no controlled substances, are not addictive, and are virtually free of side effects.
We put dozens of forskolin supplements under the critical microscope to arrive at our list of the 10 best. Use the information provided in the above guide to determine which forskolin supplement is right for you.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended forskolin supplement, click here.