Today we’re going to talk about Coleus forskohlii, one of the more recent supplements to be featured on the Dr. Oz television show (other Oz-endorsed supplements we’ve discussed include raspberry ketones, African mango, and 7-Keto).
According to Oz, Coleus exhibits some weight loss characteristics that makes it of value to dieters.
To answer that, let’s talk a little bit about what Coleus forskohlii is, and look at the clinical data that supports it use for weight loss.
First of all, Coleus is an ancient Ayurvedic plant and a member of the mint family. It has medicinal properties and has been used in Indian culture for many centuries.
Although we’re talking strictly about weight loss here, Coleus forskohlii may have other benefits too; preliminary studies suggest it may prove helpful in the treatment of asthma and possibly some forms of cancer.
But since we’re talking about weight loss, how does it measure up that way?
Well, there isn’t a ton of existing clinical data, but there is some. One study, performed on 23 mildly overweight women, came to this conclusion…
“Results suggest that CF does not appear to promote weight loss but may help mitigate weight gain in overweight females with apparently no clinically significant side effects.”
In other words, Coleus seemed to prevent weight gain, but didn’t actually help people lose any.
A different study, this one performed on men (but using the exact same dosage; 250 mg of ingredient standardized for 10% forskolin extract taken twice daily) came to a different conclusion…
“Oral ingestion of forskolin (250 mg of 10% forskolin extract twice a day) for a 12-week period was shown to favorably alter body composition while concurrently increasing bone mass and serum free testosterone levels in overweight and obese men. The results indicate that forskolin is a possible therapeutic agent for the management and treatment of obesity.”
Sounds good, huh?
Well, here’s where a little context helps.
First of all, let’s take a look at the numbers; the study participants lost anywhere from slightly less than 10 lbs. to 22.5 lbs over the course of the 90 day study.
That equates to just under 1 lbs. to just under 2 lbs. of weight lost per week.
That hardly qualifies as a miracle.
In fact, that’s well within the parameters of what you can expect to lose per week on any any intelligent diet.
Remember too, that the study participants had their calories restricted (2353.87 500.12 kcal/d for forskolin vs. 2461.43 471.29 kcal/d for placebo). This study was performed on overweight and obese men, so it’s quite possible the weight loss attained was partially attributable to this reduction in calories, especially if participants were significantly over consuming calories prior to the study.
Of course, this does not account for the other benefits the researchers saw; a boost in the serum free testosterone levels and increased bone mass.
Beware of Coleus-containing products targeted at body builders claiming to be a natural alternative to steroids. This is nonsense. Coleus supplementation did boost “test” levels, but it not do so dramatically, and certainly nowhere near enough to elicit a response in increased lean muscle.
So where does that leave Coleus forskohlii?
Although the results obtained in the studies were not particularly dramatic, there are two things we like about Coleus forskohlii…
- It’s not a stimulant. It doesn’t boost the blood pressure; in fact, it has the opposite effect. So it may be an option for people who can’t take stimulants because of an underlying health issue, or because they cannot tolerate them. At the same time, because it can lower blood pressure, you must check with your doctor before experimenting, especially if you are taking any blood pressure medication.
- It’s cheap. A properly standardized product (contains the amount of ingredient proved effective in the studies) can be had for as little as $17 for a month’s supply (2 caps daily) on iHerb.com. Slightly more extensive products cost a little more; as much as $30 for a month’s supply.
Here’s the bottom line; although we think Dr. Oz was perhaps a little too enthusiastic in his recommendation of Coleus, we agree rel=”nofollow”that at $17 for a month’s supply, it’s worth an experiment. Just don’t expect dramatic results—nothing in the existing clinical data suggests you’ll attain them.