Does Forskolin Help Build Muscle? Or Just Lose Weight?

Research show that the Forskolin extract increases lean body mass without users breaking much sweat. In the past few months, the herb has grown in popularity thanks to the widespread belief that it can help with both quickly lose weight and also pump up muscles for users without the time or immediate need for gym classes.

The truth had remained evasive, mostly due to a lack of conclusive and science-backed findings regarding the herbal extract, until now!

First, let’s explain what Forskolin is and why it is so popular

Forskolin is a naturally occurring chemical compound extracted from the tuberous roots of an Indian-native plant known as Coleus Forskohlii, a plant that belongs to the mint family. Traditionally, the extract has been used on conditions such as asthma, glaucoma, high blood pressure, chest pains and helping men with sexual disorders by improving their testosterone levels.

cAMP explainedAbove all, forskolin is used in clinical tests to raise levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP). Meaning, forskolin is used in labs to assists in improving biological response of cells to hormones. It also improves the all important communication among body cells and tissues. Little known though, is that increased levels of cAMP lead to more protein synthesis in the body, and more of this helps build and repair material for muscles.

According to studies, elevated levels of the compound cAMP acts as a luteinizing hormone would, and boost healthy production of testosterone – the primary hormone that’s always at the epicenter of muscle growth and development.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is, however, not rushing to legalize marketing campaigns pitting forskolin as a weight loss or lean muscle gain supplement. Interestingly however, an increasing number of fitness companies are advertising their products stressing the inclusion of the extract as an ingredient that’ll help users build muscle.

Does the above claim hold any truth?

Results don’t lie – Proof that Forskolin extract works

A 2001 study by Yu et al found out that when Coleus forskohlii (forskolin) extract was used on incubated leydig cells, as a comparison for lactate, the cells yield 3 times more testosterone. “Consuming (forskolin) prior to workouts could help support increased muscle contractions and improved exercise performance,” says celebrity supplements expert, Chris Lookwood, PhD.

Two credible clinical tests have been conducted thus far with human subjects. The first study was a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled preliminary study involving a total 30 overweight and obese men; 15 of them taking 250 mg of Forleans twice a day, a product containing 10{d5dc125a59e3f55d180e6b9208bd499558614daa518315d667b37b2230a2596a} coleus forskohlii, and the other 15 taking placebos. It was sponsored by the Sabinsa Corporation (the same company that manufactures Forleans), a herbal supplements manufacturer and lasted 12 weeks.


The subjects on forskolin showed results as follows:



  • Body fat percentage decreased significantly
  • Increase of bone mass and lean body mass. The subjects were not involved in any type of physical exercise.
  • Significant improvement in levels of serum-free testosterone. (The notion that the supplement could be used as a bodybuilding aid took form from here).

The second study, also double-blind and placebo-controlled, took in 19 mildly overweight women and the results showed “no real” weight loss were made after use of forskolin extract, but does help control weight gain. according to the International Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, where it was published in 2005.

So, can Forskolin extract really help build muscle?

From the above evidence, forskolin extract can in fact aid in muscle building, but only when used in combination with other dietary and exercise routines. More forskolin helps build muscleresearch into the supplements’ working ways in humans is required to fully prove it, though. If you are looking to build muscle, you should never discount the effectiveness of exercise and diet. But Forskolin can definitely lead you in the direction of your goals. Established research findings, some of which are quoted by the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, indicate that the supplement’s standard use to increase cAMP levels triggers an enzyme (hormone sensitive lipase) in the body that helps burn body fat (triglycerides) and increasing lean muscle mass.

The reaction of the enzyme in burning fat off muscle fibers is what perhaps fitness companies use to convince potential customers that forskolin can help them build muscle. Clinical studies recorded as recently as 2012, seem to indicate that forskolin helped users increase their lean body mass. The fact that the supplement has been used and is still used to help men suffering from sexual disorders may be a pointer to its testosterone-inducing capabilities, which does play a significant role in the increase of muscle mass.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE to read an in-depth review on Forskolin.