Another holistic medicinal herb that is only recently being discovered in the Western world, forskolin has been used as a natural and holistic form of medicine in the East for centuries. The plant, Coleus Forskohlii, grows in the temperate regions of India, Myanmar and Thailand, and from it comes the organic compound forskolin. Forskolin is the active component of the Coleus herb and has been the focus of extensive research for its purported healing properties in a large number of diseases.
The key mechanism of action that Forskolin induces is increasing the amount of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (AMP) in the cells by stimulating the enzyme adenylate cyclase. Cyclic AMP act as important second messengers, so-called because they bind hormones to receptors and trigger certain biological processes. Technical talk aside, an increase of cyclic AMP in the body brings with it many positive effects and benefits. It aids in the treatment of several illnesses and prevents the onset of many more. Such is the marvel of forskolin, as the natives of the countries where it abounds have known long ago and the scientists are only just beginning to realize.
For Asthma and Allergies
Forskolin acts as a bronchodilator. It relaxes the smooth muscles of the respiratory tract, decreasing airway constriction that causes difficulty in breathing. As a treatment for allergies, forskolin inhibits the release of histamines that cause allergic reactions.
For Bodybuilding and Weight Loss
Forskolin builds lean mass and decreases feelings of fatigue and hunger. It also increases fat metabolism in obese individuals who have been found to have low cAMP production. Hence, it's one of the more popular bodybuilding supplements around.
For Cancer and Metastasis
Studies have shown that forskolin inhibits tumor migration in mice. Applying these to humans, forskolin theoretically has the potential to inhibit colon cancer cell growth and human platelet aggregation. This inhibiting property may prevent the growth of metastatic tumors or primary cancer cells; however, forskolin's effect on cancer has only recently begun to be studied in depth.
When a person suffers from depression, there is neurotransmitter and catecholamine deficiency - most notably serotonin and norepinephine. Forskolin increases the cyclic AMP which raises the catecholamine level and enhances neurotransmitter function, hence alleviating depression.
For Erectile Dysfunction and Impotence
Forskolin injected into the corpus cavernosum of the male organ was found effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and impotence. The two areas of corpus cavernosa lie along the shaft and are filled with much blood during erection.
Glaucoma develops when pressure in the eye builds up beyond the normal level. The resulting blood vessel constriction damages the optic nerve, leading to impaired vision and sometimes blindness. Forskolin eye drops decrease the intraocular pressure, thus preventing optic nerve damage before treatment by an eye doctor is started.
For Hypertension and Other Cardiovascular Conditions
Forskolin relaxes the arteries and intensifies heart muscle contraction, lowering the blood pressure. It's also used to treat congestive heart failure and angina pectoris. Further, forskolin boosts blood supply to the rain by improving blood flow; thereby hastening recovery from strokes.
Forskolin aids in the production of the thyroid hormone and promotes its release, bringing thyroid hormone supply to its normal level and preventing a deficiency that leads to hypothyroidism.
For the Immune System
Forskolin activates the lymphocytes and macrophages, the body’s defenses against diseases and infections. They provide the ammunition to maintain the body’s immune system and preserve its healthy state.
For the Nervous System
Forskolin is an accessory to the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other nerve damage caused by trauma. It's being studied for its potential for nerve repair through increased cAMP level.
For Psoriasis and Eczema
Forskolin reduces the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema by balancing the cAMP to cGMP ratio, reducing the abnormal speed of cell division that causes psoriasis.
For Skin Tanning
As an alternative to tanning by exposure to the sun that can cause skin cancer, topical application of forskolin induces tanning and is safer to use.
For Urinary Tract Infections
Forskolin enhances the action of antibiotics that target E. Coli, which causes about 90 percent of bladder infections. Although these antibiotics are effective in themselves, some bacteria hide in the linings of the urinary tract and bladder. Forskolin penetrates these linings so that the antibiotics can reach them.
Forskolin may have synergistic actions with some drugs and enhance their effects. If you are taking drugs for asthma (albuterol, salbutamol) or anti-clotting agents (warfarin, aspirin, ticlopidine, clopidogrel, etc.), consult with your physician before starting a forskolin regimen.
Modern processes of extracting forskolin from the Coleus Forskohlii plant have allowed high quality forskolin supplements to be manufactured for consumer use. They come in tablets or capsules. With all the benefits you can get from forskolin, it's a wonder why the supplement has caught on before. Now that more research is being done on forskolin and more uses for the herb are discovered every day, it shouldn't be suprising to see more and more companies using this powerful herb in a variety of supplements.