Forskolin is a labdane diterpene that is produced by the Indian Coleus plant (Plectranthus barbatus). Forskolin is commonly used to raise levels of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in the study and research of cell physiology. Forskolin resensitizes cell receptors by activating the enzyme adenylyl cyclase and increasing the intracellular levels of cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate (cyclic AMP or cAMP). Cyclic AMP is an important signal carrier that is necessary for the proper biological response of cells to hormones and other extracellular signals. It is required for cell communication in the hypothalamus/pituitary gland axis and for the feedback control of hormones.
Potential Medical Use
- Applied with rolipram, forskolin provides a route to inhibition of colon cancer cell growth and survival. 
- Forskolin is a vasodilator.
- To date, there have been more than two clinical studies examining the effectiveness of forskolin as a weight loss aid. Only one has been subject to peer-review and published in a medical journal. This clinical study also observed forskolin's role in significantly increasing lean mass, bone mass, and testosterone in the subjects involved. This research has led to companies marketing forskolin as a Bodybuilding supplement.
- Forskolin may be helpful to control the underlying cause of glaucoma. The sometimes successful use of forskolin to reduce intraocular pressure may be due to its unique ability to stimulate adenylate cyclase activity and increase cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) which regulates and activates critical enzymes required for the cellular energy required to move fluid out of the eye.
- Increase skin's natural resistance to burning under UV light (see links below)
- Stimulate a tanning response when applied topically.
- Reduce urinary tract infections and enhance the ability of antibiotics to kill bacteria that normally survive.
Forskolin can also be used to promote nerve repair by increasing cAMP concetrations. Forskolin can activate or upregulate the proliferation of Schwan cells in culture, together with Fibroblast growth factor or Transforming Growth Factor-Beta.
Various experimental studies are underway in using Forskolin as an adjunct treatment for diseases such as Parkinsons and/or nerve damage caused by trauma/accident.
- McEwan DG, Brunton VG, Baillie GS, Leslie NR, Houslay MD, Frame MC. (June 2007) "Chemoresistant KM12C Colon Cancer Cells Are Addicted to Low Cyclic AMP Levels in a Phosphodiesterase 4-Regulated Compartment via Effects on Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase.", Cancer Research Volume 67, Issue 11.
- Michael P. Godard, Brad A. Johnson, Scott R. Richmond (August 2005) "Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men", Obesity Research Vol. 13 No. 8
- Aaron H. Bubolz, Hongwei Li, Qingping Wu, and Yanping Liu. Enhanced oxidative stress impairs cAMP-mediated dilation by reducing Kv channel function in small coronary arteries of diabetic rats. Article
- Scientific American: Sunless Suntan Proves Possible
- Research on suntanning effect of forskolin extract from Plectranthus barbatus
- Forskolin, a vendor product page from Fermentek
- Extract May Help Treat Bladder Infection - New York Times
- Urinary Tract Infection - Scientific American
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