Is forskolin safe and effective?


Quick Answer

Forskolin is considered safe when administered intravenously, inhaled or applied as eye drops, according to WebMD. It is possibly effective for treating idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy and asthma.

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Full Answer

Found in the roots of Plectranthus barbatus, forskolin is a chemical reputed to treat heart and respiratory disorders, reports WebMD. It is found in eye drops to treat glaucoma, turned into a powder and inhaled to treat asthma, and administered intravenously for heart failure. It is believed to treat allergies, chronic skin conditions, obesity, IBS and erectile dysfunction, but these claims have little scientific evidence to support them as of 2015.

Forskolin induces the blood vessels to widen while causing the heart to beat stronger, lowering blood pressure in the process, says WebMD. Because of this, forskolin should not be combined with medications that treat high blood pressure or increase blood flow to the heart. Forskolin's side effects include flushing, irritation, coughing, tremors and restlessness depending on how it is administered. When taken through eye drops, the chemical can cause stinging.

Forskolin is available through highly concentrated extracts of Plectranthus barbatus, but WebMD cautions that there is little evidence to support claims of forskolin's efficacy when taken orally. Forskolin's effects, safeness and benefits have only been studied when it is administered intravenously or inhaled, as of 2015.

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