Forskolin is an extract from a plant native to India that is often used as a weight loss supplement—forskolin extract is reputed to have appetite suppressing effects and may help you burn off excess fat.
Research in animals even suggests that forskolin can amp up your body’s energy production at the cellular level.
Looking to see if forskolin produces these benefits? Our researchers have reviewed and ranked the best forskolin supplements available on the market.
1. Wolfson Berg Forskolin 250
Possibly even more…
If you’re serious about losing weight, you owe it to yourself to try Forskolin 250.
This amazing supplement has been proven to reduce fat mass, increase lean body mass, boost metabolism, and actually break down stored body fat.
Formulated by Wolfson Berg, a trusted leader in the supplements industry for over a decade, you get 250mg of pure, powerful forskolin extracted from the root of the Coleus forskohlii plant… with no unnecessary additives. The only additional ingredients here are brown rice flour and magnesium stearate (veg. derived).
And with a formulation this pure, manufactured on FDA-approved facilities with 100% effective ingredients, you’ll have the chance to enjoy all its benefits.
It’s the all-around forskolin winner of 2020.
2. Dacha Forskolin Max Strength
Dacha makes a very solid forskolin supplement that’s all business. Just a simple vegan-friendly capsule that delivers 250 mg of forskolin per capsule.
No additives, no nonsense. What else can you ask for?
3. BioSchwartz Forskolin Weight Loss
BioSchwartz is one of the top forskolin supplements on the market thanks to its purity and trustworthiness as a brand. Many other forskolin supplements are made by smaller companies without a solid reputation, but that does not apply to BioSchwartz.
It’s not the highest dosage on the market, but it does have a straightforward supplement design: the only ingredients are forskolin and vegetable cellulose—no additives, binders, or stabilizers.
4. Zenvita Formulas Forskolin Ultra
For those looking for a higher dose of forskolin than the industry standard, Zenvita Formulas has got you covered. It offers 300 mg of forskolin per capsule, and on top of that, some of the forskolin complex that’s included is concentrated to 40% instead of the typical 20%.
Its vegan-friendly capsule also contains a few other stabilizers, but nothing that should pose any problems. In addition to the high dose per capsule, the bottle comes with 50% more capsules than a usual forskolin supplement.
5. Wellness Tree Forskolin
Like Zenvita, Wellness Tree is a good option if you’re in the market for a higher dose—at 300 mg per capsule, it packs a serious punch. The forskolin extract is standardized to 20% like many other high-quality forskolin supplements.
What sets it apart is its ultra-pure formulation: this supplement includes just one other ingredient, the cellulose that makes up the capsule.
6. aSquared Nutrition Forskolin
aSquared Nutrition offers a larger supply of the standard 250 mg / 20% standardized dose. It does have a few binders and stabilizers, but with 180 capsules per bottle instead of the usual 60 from most competitors, it’s going to last a lot longer on your shelf.
If you are taking high doses of forskolin, or you plan to take it for a long time, going with the bulk purchase is a smart call.
7. Evolved Advantage Forskolin
Simple and straightforward—that’s the formula for Evolved Advantage Forskolin. Its dosage is nothing out of the ordinary (250 mg per capsule), but its vegan-friendly capsules and only one additional ingredient (rice flour) do make it a very solid option if you want a middle of the road dosage and a minimum of extraneous ingredients.
8. Vitamin Bounty Forskolin Max Strength
With 250 mg of forskolin root extract per capsule, standardized to 20% concentration, Vitamin Bounty provides a solid dosage of forskolin in a very pure delivery vehicle.
The only ingredient, other than forskolin itself, is vegetable cellulose for the capsule. In the purity and simplicity department, this forskolin supplement is a winner.
9. USA Supplements Forskolin 500 Max
No surprises on the dosage and concentration here—like many forskolin supplements, you’ll get 250 mg of forskolin extract per capsule, standardized to a 20% concentration.
The “500” in the title comes from the fact that a serving size is actually two capsules. USA Supplements does put a small unique twist into the supplement by including small amounts of chlorophyll, but this is included alongside several binders and preservatives that may not be appealing to you.
10. California Products Forskolin
California Products is one of the smaller supplement companies that’s jumped into the increasingly hot forskolin market, but their forskolin supplement is nothing special.
With 250 mg of 20% forskolin per capsule, plus a few stabilizers, it doesn’t distinguish itself from the rest of the pack very well.
Best forskolin overall: Wolfson Berg Forskolin 250
Wolfson Berg makes a great forskolin supplement that provides 250 mg of forskolin per dose (125 mg per capsule) in one of the purest formulations on the market. Thanks to the optimal dose and fantastic purity, it’s our best overall recommendation.
Best forskolin for weight loss: Wolfson Berg Forskolin 250
With a relentlessly pure formulation, our top overall pick is also our top recommendation for forskolin’s biggest application, which is weight loss. The dose is perfect for maximizing appetite suppression to help with weight loss.
Best forskolin for heart health: BioSchwartz Forskolin Weight Loss
Forskolin’s potential for improving heart health is linked both to its promise for weight loss and for its potential for improving your body’s energy production capabilities. For these purposes, BioSchwartz Forskolin Weight Loss is a great fit thanks to its super-pure supplement design.
Best forskolin for burning fat fast: Zenvita Forskolin Ultra
Zenvita Forskolin Ultra has the highest dose per capsule among our top-ranked forskolin supplements, so it’s particularly well-suited for rapid weight loss. The risk of side effects is a bit greater at this dosage, but that’s the price to pay for a more powerful effect.
Best forskolin for urinary tract health: Dacha Forskolin Max Strength
One of forskolin’s lesser-known benefits is its antibacterial effects against harmful bugs in your urinary tract. The 250 mg dose and simple formulation (barely any other ingredients!) in this supplement is great for improving urinary health while avoiding negative side effects.
Best forskolin for women: Dacha Forskolin Max Strength
Women may be more susceptible to gastrointestinal problems caused by forskolin—that’s why we recommend Dacha Forskolin Max Strength, as it has a dosage that’s as high as you can go without incurring the increased risk of gastrointestinal distress that’s associated with forskolin doses beyond 250 mg per day.
Who should buy forskolin?
Forskolin has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, but is most prominent today as an herbal treatment for weight loss. Forskolin seems to act principally as an appetite suppressant, which means it increases feelings of fullness and decreases your desire to eat more.
It may also help tilt your body’s metabolic profile towards a healthier balance of cholesterol, and it seems to help decrease body fat while maintaining or even increasing body mass.
In short, forskolin is a promising natural weight loss supplement, so if you are looking to decrease your fat mass, or prevent weight gain after successfully completing a diet, forskolin might be worth a shot.
While it does not have nearly as much theoretical and experimental evidence supporting its use as something like green tea extract, many people nevertheless find that forskolin is a valuable addition to their weight loss routine.
How we ranked
To formulate our rankings, we focused only on supplements whose primary active ingredient was forskolin. Even though you can find it alongside other thermogenics and appetite suppressants in products like diet pills and fat burners for women, we wanted to specifically focus on the supplements that best follow the scientific research.
That means no additional active ingredients, so our first step was to eliminate any product that had other biologically active compounds in addition to forskolin.
Next up, we looked at the amount of forskolin in each capsule for all the remaining products. When it comes to forskolin supplementation, dosage is key.
The most effective dosages with the lowest incidence of side effects are in the 250 to 500 mg range, so we required that supplements in our rankings have a flexible dosage level that allows you to span this dosage range. Too high or too low of a dosage meant that a product got eliminated from our rankings.
Finally, we examined the overall ingredient design of each of the remaining forskolin supplements. We favored products that used cellulose capsules and minimal, natural binders like rice flour, as opposed to products that were cluttered with silica gel, stearates, and other synthetic binding and stabilizing agents.
Our rankings of the top forskolin products provide you with several options for both conservative and more optimistic doses, while still staying true to what’s been tested for efficacy in the scientific literature.
Forskolin has been touted as the all-purpose miracle supplement. The well-known TV doctor Dr. Oz once famously called forskolin “lightning in a bottle” (1).
He was referring to its supposed powers as a weight-loss supplement but in reality, forskolin may have the power to help us in many more ways than just fat burning and looking sexy. Think: garcinia cambogia but potentially better.
If you take a look at the impressively long and varied list of what forskolin might be able to do for us, the first thing you notice is it seems to do wonderful things for a very diverse set of ailments, which seemingly have nothing to do with each other.
It seems forskolin shows great promise in the medical world. Each medical use listed above is the result of at least some amount of clinical studies. Just how much real science has been applied in a laboratory setting for each application varies from scarcely any at all to substantial amounts.
That means it does all kinds of things in different parts of your body and on different levels, including the cellular level. Like a benevolent agent of good works, it has resounding effects on a wide range of problems. That range is far greater than even present-day scientists have discovered, so the future looks promising as far as discovering great things about the full impact of forskolin on various biological functions in the body.
The substance forskolin is produced by a plant called Coleus forskohlii, or Coleus for short. There are many different types of coleus plants, but this is Indian Coleus, which may explain forskolin’s prevalence in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda).
Why it works is a bit difficult for most people to grasp, and that’s because forskolin works on the cellular level. This is best understood by reading the following descriptions of some of the more documented uses of forskolin.
Was Dr. Oz basing his infamous description of forskolin on anything scientific? Turns out maybe he was…
There is an oft-cited study, known as the Godard study, showing that taking forskolin resulted in decreased body fat and fat mass. This study also showed positive changes in bone mass in just 12 weeks, as well as a trend toward increased lean body mass.
Not only that, but serum free testosterone levels were significantly increased in participants, after taking forskolin. The men in the study took a 10% forskolin extract (250 mg) twice a day for 12 weeks. They were overweight and obese, so this tells us that coleus (forskolin) may be an effective treatment for obesity.
As for lean and fit men (and women) taking it in order to increase lean body mass and decrease body fat, there does not yet exist a clinical study as conclusive as this famous Godard study. We can draw connections and hope that in all likelihood that since this worked for obese men it would also work for women. It’s perfectly plausible and probably true.
Some of the most promising science on forskolin comes in the area of treating urinary tract infections. Here’s why Forskolin may help cure UTIs when antibiotics alone don’t get it all. This study was done on mice but it shows great promise for humans too (5).
Turns out that UTIs, which are commonly treated with antibiotics to kill bacteria in the urinary tract, have a nasty habit of recurring. In one third of women who get UTIs, the infection comes back even when they undergo a full round of antibiotics (6).
The problem is how the bacteria behaves…specifically with how it interacts with cells in the bladder, where the infection occurs. Turns out E. coli, the bacteria in question, has the ability to adhere to receptors in bladder cells which, when triggered, release little sacs. These sacs act to help the bladder expand when it gets full. The problem is, when the bladder is emptied and no longer needs to be expanded, these sacs go back into their “host” cells.
That’s when E. coli gets a free ride into the center of the bladder’s cells, where it’s sheltered from any antibiotics a woman might take. They can come back out any time, alive and well, causing the UTI to recur.
What’s that got to do with forskolin? Plenty, because what triggers those little empty sacs to come out is cyclic AMP. When c-AMP levels rise, the sacs come out and help the bladder expand.
Forskolin has been found by researchers to dramatically increase levels of cyclic AMP within cells. That’s also why bodybuilders like it, since this is what triggers free testosterone to be produced. Therefore, when the mice in the study were injected with forskolin extract, they witnessed an 80% reduction in the amount of E. Coli in those mice. That means forskolin may have a huge impact on how effective antibiotics will have in treatment of UTIs.
It’s a known fact that birds, fish, and amphibians recover from hearing damage much more effectively than mammals. In fact, what many birds (and fish etc) are able to recover from, results in permanent hearing damage for mammals.
Research performed at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA showed that forskolin was able to increase mammals’ ability to recover from damage that normally would have led to permanent damage in the ears (7).
Specifically, what causes hearing loss in organisms is loss of hair cells. It’s already been established that birds, when continuously exposed to forskolin, experience a significant increase in regeneration of these hair cells.
The study aimed to find out if the same thing happened in mammals (rats). What they found was promising: although prolonged exposure to forskolin didn’t do much to regrow hair cells, brief exposure did. Rats who had under one hour of exposure to forskolin saw increased cAMP levels, which was brought on by that forskolin. The increased cAMP levels trigger something scientists call “S-phase entry”…to you and me it means more hair cells being produced, hence recovery from hearing loss.
Not only that, but further research has been performed, which is exactly what we like to see in the field of medicine, supplements, and our health.
Forskolin may help decrease your appetite. In the world of weight loss supplements, there are, broadly speaking, two strategies that a supplement can adopt to lead to weight loss.
Either it can increase your body’s energy expenditure (i.e. through fat oxidation or thermogenesis), or it can decrease your drive to eat more (as in appetite suppressants). Cross-disciplinary research appears to indicate that forskolin belongs to the latter category, at least according to a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods in 2015 (8).
The study used animal models to show that forskolin supplementation changed the levels of several key enzymes linked to the pancreas, and led to a decrease in appetite (measured as the amount of food consumed by the animals). If these results translate to humans, it would explain the mechanism that forskolin uses to generate weight loss.
These findings also give some insights into how to take forskolin—if its utility is mostly in its ability to modify your appetite, this would suggest that it is best to take forskolin in the morning, not at night. That way, you would feel more full throughout the day, and would be less likely to overeat at lunch and at dinner.
In contrast, at night, you are less likely to benefit from the appetite suppressant effects of forskolin, as you won’t be taking in calories at night anyways. The real key to losing weight with an appetite suppressant is to shift the balance of energy intake and energy expenditure so you have a net caloric deficit, day after day.
Forskolin has not been studied in an enormous number of clinical studies in humans, though studies so far have not reported serious side effects.
Gastrointestinal complaints like diarrhea have been reported in some studies, but like many new but understudied supplements, it’s hard to characterize the side effect profile of forskolin from the small number of clinical trials in the literature.
Fortunately, forskolin has been studied in a more innovative way using online surveys. A study published in 2019 in the journal Nutrients administered a survey to hundreds of users of a forskolin supplement to investigate the incidence of side effects (9).
The study showed a higher proportion of side effects than previously thought; fully ten percent of users of forskolin reported having some side effects. Gastrointestinal symptoms were the dominant side effect reported, and over 80% of these cases were diarrhea.
The authors suggested that, while forskolin can be an efficacious way to lose weight or keep it off, users should take the side effect profile into account when deciding whether to take this supplement.
One limitation of this survey-based study that should be kept in mind, however, is that it didn’t sample anyone who did not take forskolin—so some proportion of the incidence of side effects might be a “baseline level” of gastrointestinal symptoms that occur in people trying to lose weight.
Since much of the biological basis of forskolin supplementation is based on animal research, it’s hard to translate rat or mouse studies to human-relevant doses.
However, the same innovative survey study we just discussed also provides useful population-level guidance on forskolin supplement dosing. Because the survey collected so many respondents, the authors were able to fit a curve to the dosage taken and the incidence of negative gastrointestinal side effects.
Up to about 250 mg of forskolin per day, the rate of side effects was more or less negligible; it rose slowly from 250 to 500 mg, and more sharply for doses higher than 500 mg per day. Once the dosage level rose to 1000 mg per day, the incidence of diarrhea was estimated at over 20%, on average.
If you want a moderate weight loss effect and a low risk of gastrointestinal side effects, a dose of 250 mg of forskolin per day is a safe bet. If you are willing to accept a marginal risk of diarrhea (circa 5%) a dose of 500 mg per day might be worth a shot.
Based on these surveys, though, doses above 500 mg per day seem like they are too likely to produce unhelpful side effects to be worth taking.
Even if you were to get a better weight loss effect, you’ll be unlikely to stick to a weight loss routine long-term if it generates very unpleasant side effects like diarrhea. So, in this case, it’s best to take a moderate dose for best results.
Q: What are the dangers of taking forskolin?
A: Based on the admittedly limited clinical data, forskolin does not appear to have any major dangers associated with it, though it does seem to be associated with gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea.
New research shows that these dangers don’t really appear until doses of over 250 mg of forskolin per day, with the risk of GI tract disturbances growing exponentially when dosage is over 500 mg of forskolin per day. Aside from gastrointestinal symptoms, research thus far does not suggest that forskolin has any other undesirable effects.
Q: Is forskolin good for weight loss?
A: Weight loss is the primary application of forskolin supplementation. It appears to help decrease body fat and preserve muscle mass during weight loss programs, possibly as a result of decreasing appetite.
Animal models have found that forskolin changes levels of certain enzymes in your pancreas, and these changes have been linked to decreases in appetite. From these findings we might be able to conclude that forskolin would be best used in conjunction with a diet, as it could help you stick to your commitment to eat less at each meal.
Q: What is forskolin used for?
A: Forskolin has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for a wide range of health maladies, but its most popular use by far today is for weight loss.
Forskolin is used as a way to assist with weight loss and weight loss maintenance, and some scientific evidence suggests that forskolin leads to a decrease in body fat mass and possibly even increases in lean body mass (i.e. muscle) over the course of a weight loss program.
Forskolin may do this by virtue of its ability to act as an appetite suppressant, hence lowering your overall caloric intake in the long term.
Q: What plant does forskolin come from?
A: Forskolin is a chemical compound that comes from the plectranthus barbatus plant, more commonly known as Coleus forskohlii or simply coleus.
Forskolin is just a molecule that occurs in high concentrations in this particular plant, which is native to India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Among its many possible applications, weight loss is by far the most common topic of research in recent years.
Q: How do you use forskolin to lose weight?
A: Studies on forskolin for weight loss have used doses ranging from 250 to 1000 mg of forskolin per day, but the best evidence thus far for optimal efficacy and minimal side effects indicates that a dose of 250 to 500 mg per day, with at least half the dose taken in the morning to capitalize on the potential appetite suppressant effects of forskolin.
Most studies have their participants take forskolin for at least six to eight weeks before they see significant weight loss benefits.
Q: What is in forskolin?
A: Forskolin is a chemical compound that comes from the coleus plant, which is native to India. This molecule is extracted from raw plant material, purified, and packaged into capsules or tablets for use as a forskolin supplement.
Sometimes, you’ll find forskolin included alongside other compounds for weight loss, as in a diet pill, but technically speaking, forskolin refers to a single molecule.
It’s not a blend of many different molecules. This makes understanding dosage much easier, since a given dose (e.g. 500 mg) is precisely what it says.
Compare this to something like cranberry extract, where the concentration of active ingredients can vary widely from one supplement to another—in these situations, predicting efficacy is much harder.
Q: When should you take forskolin?
A: Animal research suggesting that forskolin has an appetite suppressant effect is useful when trying to figure out the best manner to take a forskolin supplement.
If you want to leverage the effects of an appetite suppressant, the best way to do it is to take the supplement in the morning, so your appetite will be suppressed at all of the meals that you eat during the day (plus between meals, of course).
The advantage here is that you’ll be less likely to overeat at your meals, which will lower your daily energy intake. If your energy expenditure stays the same (for example, by maintaining your same physical activity levels), you’ll start losing weight.
Like many other weight loss supplements, forskolin isn’t going to work overnight, but over the course of several weeks, you should start seeing results if forskolin is going to work for you.
- Garcinia cambogia
- Green coffee bean extract
- Fat burners for women
- Natural weight loss supplements
- Appetite suppressants
There’s one thing that’s consistent throughout all the forskolin studies, and that’s that it increases cAMP levels. These levels form the trigger for a multitude of cellular activity, and if we can control it, we may have the ability to do amazing things, medically.
So, while the list at the beginning of this article may seem far-fetched at first, knowing what you now know about forskolin and cAMP levels, accompanied by the example of scientific research you’ve just seen, maybe it’s not so far-fetched after all.
Dr. Oz may have been guilty of jumping the gun and exaggerating, but science and time may prove him right, after all.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 forskolin recommendation, click here.