Forskolin is a natural supplement derived from the root of a plant called Coleus forskohlii 2. Traditionally, this herbal treatment has been used to treat a variety of health conditions including insomnia, convulsions and heart and lung diseases. Treatment with forskolin may also aid in weight management; however, additional research validating these purported benefits of forskolin is needed 2. Discuss the potentially dangerous side effects of forskolin with your medical provider before beginning treatment 2.
Low Blood Pressure
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center warns that treatment with forskolin may lower your blood pressure 12. This potentially dangerous side effect, called hypotension, may induce dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, diminished concentration, pale skin, fatigue or loss of consciousness. If you have such side effects, you may be at risk of sustaining an injury from tripping or falling down. Severely low blood pressure levels may prevent your vital organs from getting the oxygen they need to function normally. Consequently, severe hypotension may result in permanent heart or brain damage. Seek care from your physician if you experience recurrent symptoms of hypotension to ensure you receive appropriate care.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center warns that treatment with forskolin may lower your blood pressure 1.
- Consequently, severe hypotension may result in permanent heart or brain damage.
Elevated Heart Rate
CLA Side Effects
Treatment with forskolin may elevate your normal heart rate, a side effect referred to as tachycardia 2. When your heart rate increases significantly, you may experience lightheadedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitation, rapid pulse or loss of consciousness. Dangerous complications associated with tachycardia include heart failure, blood clots, frequent fainting or sudden death, MayoClinic.com warns 3. Consult your doctor if you experience heart-related side effects while taking forskolin 2.
Increased Stomach Acid Levels
Forskolin may increase the amount of acid in your stomach 2. This may cause side effects of nausea, heartburn and indigestion. Such side effects are particularly dangerous for people with pre-existing gastrointestinal health issues, such as a stomach ulcer. Consequently, don't take this supplement if you have a stomach ulcer, the University of Michigan Health System advises.
- Forskolin may increase the amount of acid in your stomach 2.
- Such side effects are particularly dangerous for people with pre-existing gastrointestinal health issues, such as a stomach ulcer.
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Consult your medical provider about all medications you're taking before beginning treatment with forskolin 2. Concomitant use of forskolin and prescription blood-thinners may increase your risk of developing bleeding complications 2. Additionally, avoid taking forskolin in conjunction with antihypertensives, warns Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 12. The combination of this supplement and antihypertensives may result in a significant decrease in your blood pressure.
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- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Forskolin
- Drugs.com: Forskolin
- MayoClinic.com: Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
- Jeukendrup AE, Randell R. Fat burners: nutrition supplements that increase fat metabolism. Obes Rev. 2011;12(10):841‐851. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00908.x
- Wagh VD, Patil PN, Surana SJ, Wagh KV. Forskolin: Upcoming antiglaucoma molecule. J Postgrad Med. 2012;58(3):199‐202. doi:10.4103/0022-3859.101396
- Foudi N, Badi A, Amrane M, Hodroj W. Asthma causes inflammation of human pulmonary arteries and decreases vasodilatation induced by prostaglandin I2analogs. J Asthma. 2017;54(10):1012‐1018. doi:10.1080/02770903.2017.1292282
- Godard MP, Johnson BA, Richmond SR. Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men. Obes Res. 2005;13(8):1335-1343. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.162
- Jonas JB, Wang N. Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure and Glaucoma. J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2013;8(3):257-263.
- Vetrugno M, Uva MG, Russo V, et al. Oral Administration of Forskolin and Rutin Contributes to Intraocular Pressure Control in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma Patients Under Maximum Tolerated Medical Therapy. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2012;28(5):536-541. doi:10.1089/jop.2012.0021
- Majeed M, Nagabhushanam K, Natarajan S, Vaidyanathan P, Karri SK, Jose JA. Efficacy and safety of 1% forskolin eye drops in open angle glaucoma - An open label study. Saudi J Ophthalmol. 2015;29(3):197‐200. doi:10.1016/j.sjopt.2015.02.003
- González-Sánchez R, Trujillo X, Trujillo-Hernández B, Vásquez C, Huerta M, Elizalde A. Forskolin versus Sodium Cromoglycate for Prevention of Asthma Attacks: A Single-blinded Clinical Trial. J Int Med Res. 2006;34(2):200-207. doi:10.1177/147323000603400210
- Huerta M, Urzúa Z, Trujillo X, González-Sánchez R, Trujillo-Hernández B. Forskolin Compared with Beclomethasone for Prevention of Asthma Attacks: A Single-Blind Clinical Trial. J Int Med Res. 2010;38(2):661-668. doi:10.1177/147323001003800229
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Forskolin. Updated April 14, 2020.
- Putnam WC, Swenson SM, Reif GA, Wallace DP, Helmkamp GM, Grantham JJ. Identification of a Forskolin-Like Molecule in Human Renal Cysts. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007;18(3):934-943. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2006111218
- Dwyer JT, Coates PM, Smith MJ. Dietary Supplements: Regulatory Challenges and Research Resources. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):41. doi:10.3390/nu10010041
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.