Dr. Oz has done it again: brought another weight loss supplement into the public eye via his wildly influential TV show.
The short version? Forskolin is effective for weight loss, but you can’t find them in most stores.
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Everyone wants to know about Forskolin now, even though the following has always been true:
…it’s been around for millennia in the Ayurvedic medicinal system native to India…
…there is scientific research in University labs dating back to the 1980s showing Forskolin’s effect on fat-burning activities at the cellular level…
…chemistry students have been playing around with Forskolin for years, adding to their stacks and discovering weight loss benefits.
So, it’s used in Ayurvedic medicine, and if anything…we know Forskolin is safe.
Even if you doubt the entire medicinal system of an ancient culture (India) that’s based on thousands of years of tradition and evolution, this does tell you one thing: it’s not harmful.
It’s actually an extract from the plant Coleus Forskohlii, a fact that Forskolin advocates love to spread around:
Safe, just like mint… and, as you can tell by the picture, it actually looks like a mint plant.
Scientists did notice a “modest effect on NO”, but eating beets and hawthorn berries can do that, too.
OK it’s safe…but what does forskolin actually do?
Forskolin has been shown in scientific studies to produce an increase lean mass and a decrease fat mass with significant fat loss.
It changes the composition of your body by lowering the ratio between body fat and lean body mass. Less body fat is generally considered by doctors, nutritionists, and researchers to be a desirable outcome of any weight-loss regimen. Physical trainers are especially fond of the idea of lowering that ratio.
When your body fat is reduced, you will lose weight.
How does forskolin work?
Scientists get excited when they discover compounds that can talk to our bodies on a cellular level. If we can communicate with the neurons that control cellular activity, then we can effectively tell our bodies how we want to them to behave. The main significance of this is that we can stop our cells from engaging in harmful behavior.
Imagine if doctors could stop cancer cells from reproducing. That’s what it means to have a say in the cell-regulating processes of our bodies.
You see, Forskolin does something to the body on a cellular level and that’s scientifically VERY exciting.
Forskolin has a direct effect on a certain enzyme (adenylate cyclase), which is an enzyme that “speaks” directly to your cells. What this enzyme actually does is raise cAMP levels in cells, and cAMP is a cell regulator. It stands for “Cyclic AMP“. In essence, Forskolin can control the stuff that controls your cells.
Raising cAMP does all sorts of good things to your body;
- reduces cells’ activation of platelets so you’re less likely to have blood clots
- reduces cells’ release of the chemical histamine, which reduces severity of allergic reactions
- improved thyroid function
- increased lipolysis, which is scientific term for burning fat
So, if Forskolin gets to a cell, it raises cAMP. A study done at the Penn State University College of Medicine found that obese people often have reduced cAMP production. If there were only a way to increase cAMP levels…
…and there is: it’s called Forskolin, and if it can get adipocytes in your body it will burn fat.
Like it says above, Forskolin activates an enzyme, which increases cAMP in cells. Increasing cAMP levels is a natural process: hormones also increase cAMP but Forskolin does it by itself without the use of hormones.
What the critics are saying
Sometimes even a scientific explanation of the way something works won’t lead people to see the facts clearly. Every supplement or medically-acting device deals with this scruitny, just like Nugenix and their testosterone claims.
Of course there are skeptics, and they’re right to question the claims, especially when it comes to yet another weight-loss pill.
So yes, scientific evidence of Forskolin’s power to help people lose weight has been criticized.
One criticism begins by describing the exploitative acts of drama exhibited on stage by Dr. Oz, America’s favorite “TV doctor”.
If you’re at all scientific-minded and even the slightest bit critical, Dr. Oz does not represent the end-all source of scientific wisdom.
Well the naysayer critic doesn’t like Dr. Oz and his way of demonstrating to the public how Forskolin burns body fat. In fact, it makes you wonder whether the critique is really less about Forskolin and more about Dr. Oz.
Let’s take a look…
One study mentioned in the critical blog post was entitled :
Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men
The criticism was that the subjects did not lose weight, even though they lost body fat. Upon closer examination of things, however, that turns out to be a very shallow critique. It reveals a lack of understanding on the part of the naysayer who wrote it, and I’m going to explain why right now.
First, let’s establish that the study was conducted according to proper scientific protocol…
Now, the study was a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial. While I’m guessing that means nothing to you besides perhaps it was carried out in a scientifically proper manner, let me tell you it means a lot. Only the highest level clinical studies are conducted in this way, as it’s the standard for research if you’re going to be able to extract anything meaningful from your results afterwards.
In the case of this Forskolin evidence, we want to ensure that weight loss, fat burning or whatever outcome we get, is caused by the Forskolin and not by the subjects’ enthusiasm, renewed hope, faith in the product or what have you. All those psychological factors have an effect on weight loss, of course.
By the way, placebo-controlled double blind trial means neither the tester nor the subject knew which was the placebo and which was the Forskolin during the trial. We certainly don’t want subject tricking their brains into thinking something works or doesn’t work. Same goes for the scientists.
So, the methodology of the study was sound. Now let’s take a look at the evidence.
In scientific realms, it’s easy to prove a point. You simply show the facts. In the case of this Forskolin study, The evidence is also clear:
- Forskolin had an effect on body composition.
- Forskolin caused a significant decrease in body fat percentage.
- Forskolin caused a significant decrease in fat mass.
- Forskolin caused an increase in lean body mass.
That’s actually pretty promising stuff.
For those of you who don’t know, lean body mass is just your total body weight minus your fat mass, expressed like this:
It’s the real you, minus your extra fat! Technically speaking, lean body mass is your muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs and bones. Doctors actually use LBM to figure out how much medicine to prescribe.
Wouldn’t it be great to get your weight down to the “real you”? This study is showing that Forskolin actually does this.
That brings us to the way the body works when it comes to fat, lean mass and overall weight. All responsible, because of the pure coleus forskohlii root extract. Yes, we’re starting to nerd out here, but basically, the “coleus forskohlii” is the stuff making it possible to lose weight.
The ideal body is one that’s within certain weight guidelines, but also one that’s more lean body mass than body fat**.
Ever heard of “skinny fat”?
That’s a person who falls within the proper weight for their height, but who has very little muscle. So where’s the weight coming from?
You got it: body fat.
It’s possible to be skinny yet have too much body fat. These are the people who look OK fully clothed but just don’t look “healthy” naked because they have no muscle tone.
A Word on Body Composition
But they probably wouldn’t lose weight. You see, body composition is important too…for looks and for health. In fact, some overweight people, who also happen to have a lot of lean body mass along with their body fat, are better looking and healthier than their skinny fat friends. Again: it’s the composition of your body, not just your total poundage.
Why the Critics are Wrong About Forskolin
In fact, being overly preoccupied with how much you weigh rather than body composition shows a total misconception of how the body works.
Body builders and gym fanatics know this, but most people haven’t caught on yet. That’s why the critique of the study doesn’t hold up.
Secondly, we all know that men’s and women’s bodies are different..especially when it comes to body fat and lean body mass. Sadly, it takes way more effort for women to lose fat because they’re genetically predisposed to having more of it.
Could it be that’s why, in the second study cited by the naysayer, no body composition effects were found in 12 weeks? This second study was performed on women.
Could it be that it just takes longer in women and 12 weeks was too short a time?
After all, the study on men was also 12 weeks, and the were just getting started.
Hmm…come on people, this is simple stuff.
Could it be that the naysayer is toying with us, manipulating the truth for her own agenda?
This isn’t to say that the women in that study would ever show any change in body composition. It’s simply inconclusive. Given more time, you can’t help but wonder if they too, like the men who were given Forskolin, would have seen positive results.
Back to the Research…
So when the research shows a reduction in body fat and an increase in lean body mass after only 12 weeks, you’d get excited if you knew anything at all about physiology. That’s what happens when the body is changing for the better.
What will most likely happen next with the subjects, if previous studies have shown us anything, is they will actually start to lose weight.
As their bodies become leaner, they’ll function better and great things will happen:
- exercise will become easier, more enjoyable, more effective
- metabolism will shoot upwards, resulting in weight loss
- body function will improve, overall health will improve
The effect of the reduced body fat will begin to have an accumulative effect as the body becomes more efficient at metabolizing food, burning calories and producing muscle.
In other words, the first 12 weeks of that study were just the beginning.
I guess at this point we can pretty much say that what the critics are saying is this:
Our criticisms of Forskolin research are based on misguided perceptions about physiology. We know nothing about body composition, weight loss or health. We do, however, hate Dr. Oz.
Since there is scientific evidence that Forskolin reduces body fat at least in men, this supplement is certainly effective in many ways. Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for obesity and conditions such as asthma, cancer and heart failure, there are thousands if not millions of people who have benefited from taking Forskolin for weight loss.
It’s just a matter of waiting for the scientific community to catch up with the research and perform longer-term studies on women.
That way, we’ll have proof it works on women as well as it does on men.
But only if you truly understand the nature of real, long-lasting weight loss, the effect of body fat on overall weight, and the nature of body fat to lean body mass ratios, can you truly understand the exciting effectiveness Forskolin and the great things it does for the body on a cellular level.
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In today’s weight-loss-peddling society, Forskolin is one of the few options worth considering.
Image credit: Muhammad Al Shanfari, 2011. Flickr
Supplement Police: http://supplementpolice.com/pure-forskolin-extract-review/
*Allen, D.O., Ahmed, B., and Naseer, K. Relationships between cyclic AMP levels and lipolysis in fat cells after isoproterenol and Forskolin stimulation. J Pharmacol and Exp Therapeutics, 1986, 238: 2, 659-238
**Source: Getting a Grip on Body Composition by Len kravits, Ph.D and Vivian H. Heyward, Ph.D. University of New Mexico