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What is Forskolin?

The medicinal properties of forskolin - the root extract of the Coleus forskohlli plant, which grows wild in the mountainous regions of India, Nepal and Thailand - have long been recognised by practitioners of Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medicine.

The medicinal properties of forskolin -
the root extract of the Coleus forskohlli plant, which grows wild in the mountainous regions of India, Nepal and Thailand - have long been recognised by practitioners of Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) medicine. They have been using forskolin for centuries to successfully treat numerous health problems - from diabetes and bronchitis to angina and insomnia.

Yet it has only been recently that scientists have uncovered the exact reason behind forskolin's many health-giving benefits. Studies have revealed that forskolin improves levels of a naturally-occurring chemical called cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate), which plays a vital role in many cellular functions in your body (J Cyclic Nucleotide Res 7:201 224,1981).

As a result, forskolin is proving to be extremely beneficial for conditions where cAMP levels are known to be particularly low, such as allergies, thyroid problems, glaucoma, poor digestion and circulation problems.

Safely overcome allergies like asthma and eczema without steroids:
Scientists have discovered that a cAMP deficiency is strongly associated with many allergic conditions. Eczema sufferers have been found to have significantly low levels of cAMP in their skin, for example, whilst low levels of this chemical in the lungs has been linked to those with asthma (Eur Arch Otor 2001, 258(5), 230-235).

Forskolin is proving to be so promising in this area because of its ability to safely increase levels of cAMP in your body. A conventional way of treating asthma and skin allergies is with steroids, which also increase levels of cAMP but have unpleasant side-effects, including stomach upset, fluid retention and weight gain.

In addition, forskolin, like traditional anti-histamine drugs, is able to block histamine - a chemical which worsens allergies - but without causing their side-effects of nausea and drowsiness.

Reverse symptoms of weight gain and fatigue caused by an underactive thyroid:
With age, your thyroid gland becomes less efficient, producing insufficient amounts of the hormone thyroxin. Low thyroid activity can result in weight gain, tiredness, loss of energy, and the slowing down of your metabolism - causing constipation and a slow heart beat.

It is thought that up to 40 per cent of people aged 50 and above suffer from an underactive thyroid without even realising it. Forskolin has been found to increase the production of thyroxine, which can help reverse the symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid (Biochim Biophys Acta 2001, 1540(1), 68-81).

Much-needed relief for the painful symptoms of indigestion:
People aged 50 and above are particularly prone to indigestion, because the secretion of digestive fluids becomes less effective with age. Forskolin can help by stimulating enzymes in your digestive fluids such as amylase and pepsin, and regulating the production of saliva - which are all necessary for your digestive system to function properly (Jpn J Physiol 2001, 51(4), 435-444).

Forskolin also improves the breakdown and absorption of food:
especially the absorption of nutrients from your bowel), which is vital for preventing problems such as malnutrition and general weakness. Forskolin may also encourage weight loss, as research shows that cAMP releases leptin, a protein which has received a lot of attention recently regarding its ability to reduce body fat (Biol Reprod 2001, 65(3),814-819).

Forskolin's extraordinary range of health-giving properties don't end there...

Blood circulation:
Studies show that forskolin helps maintain the normal clotting mechanism of your blood by reducing the clumping together of blood platelets (Eur J Pharm 1993;245:55-61).

This lowers your risk of developing conditions such as stroke, heart disease and thrombosis, which are caused when your blood vessels become blocked.

In a recent study, forskolin was found to be almost as effective as the prescription drug dipyridamol which improves blood flow; and another study showed that it stabilises the flow of ions necessary for the healthy functioning of your heart (Cardiovasc Res 2001, 51(1), 95-102).

Neurological disorders:
Forskolin helps increase cAMP levels in your brain cells, and this stimulates the production of nerve growth factors - chemicals which repair damaged nerve cells (J Neurochem 2001, 78(5), 972-980). Forskolin may, therefore, prove to be very useful in treating neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, which cause damage to the brain.

A deficiency of cAMP in your skin cells increases your cell division rate by a staggering 1,000 per cent! This can cause the symptoms of psoriasis, which include scaly, itchy and red skin - especially around your elbows and knees. Normally, your skin cells are produced at a steady rate - old cells die off and are replaced by the creation of new cells.

The ability of forskolin to regulate cAMP levels in the skin cells has been shown to have clinical benefits for many sufferers of psoriasis (Planta Med 1989, vol. 51, 475-476).

Promising Results For Treating Glaucoma:
Although studies are still in their early stages, results so far indicate that forskolin eye drops may improve the overall symptoms of glaucoma (Curr Eye Res 1985, 4(2) 87-96). Glaucoma is caused by the increased pressure of fluids inside your eye, which leads to a steady deterioration of your eyesight.

Forskolin has been shown to increase cAMP levels inside the eye, which regulate and activate several other essential enzymes within your eye tissues, such as catalase and protease.

This appears to reduce fluid production and increase fluid drainage from the eye (Invest Opthalmol Vis Sci 1984, 25(3) 268-276; Invest Opthalmol Vis Sci 2000, 41(5), 998-1005).

More research is needed before forskolin eye drops become available in the UK, but the low incidence of side-effects associated with forskolin make it a promising treatment for glaucoma. NHR will keep you updated on the outcome of these trials, as soon as the results become available.

How To Take Forskolin:
Forskolin offers a wide range of benefits for your health, and preliminary studies conducted so far suggest that it may even inhibit the spread of cancer cells (Int J Cancer 1983;32:801-4).

The recommended dose of forskolin is 10mg of standardised extract (in capsule form) a day. Forskolin is best taken before food, because it is better absorbed on an empty stomach.

Side effects are rare and mild, but it is important to realise that it may interfere with medication for high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, heart irregularities and asthma, so it is important that it is taken under medical supervision.

People with prostate cancer or those with low blood pressure should not use forskolin as it can worsen the symptoms of these two conditions.

Life Extension's Forskolin

Ecological Formula's Forskolin

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