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Forskolin for Erectile Dysfunction: Does it Work?


  • Forskolin is a popular weight loss supplement.
  • Researchers have explored using forskolin for erectile dysfunction.
  • Like Viagra, it may boost serum testosterone and relax smooth muscles in the penis.
  • FDA-approved drugs like Viagra and Cialis are better solutions for ED than forskolin. 

Are you thinking about using forskolin for erectile dysfunction? Does this popular herbal weight loss supplement work? Can it help you get back your sexual vigor? How does it work? And how does it compare to FDA-approved erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra and Cialis? 

Let’s answer all those questions and more. 

What is Forskolin?

Forskolin is an extract of the plant Coleus forskholii. The plant is a member of the mint family and is said to be something of a “miracle cure” for many ailments. Over the centuries, people have used it to treat: 

  • Conditions affecting the central nervous system
  • Respiratory problems
  • Ailments of the intestines and stomach
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory problems
  • Conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels
  • Increased pressure (hypertension) in the eye 

Forskolin is found in the roots of the Coleus forskholii, a plant that belongs to the mint family. Forskolin is a folk remedy most commonly used to treat asthma, glaucoma, and a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. While there is some evidence that forskolin can help with these conditions, existing research is limited and not conclusive.

Forskolin is also used as a weight loss supplement, and some research suggests that it may increase testosterone levels in men and even help erectile function.

Forskolin for Weight Loss

Forskolin contains a substance called diterpene. We have known for a while that forskolin activates a compound in living cells called cyclic adenosine monophosphate, or cyclic AMP (cAMP). This compound may explain the purported fat-dissolving and erection-supporting effects of forskolin. 

Through cAMP, forskolin triggers a cascade of biochemical processes that may lead to weight loss. cAMP:

  • Alters the response of the body to food.
  • Increases the metabolic rate.
  • Promotes the optimal use of body fat.
  • Frees up fatty cells so the body can use them as fuel.

It is also debatable whether forskolin works for weight loss as well as people seem to believe. To lose weight, you have to use more calories than you consume. If you exercise regularly and clean up your diet, forskolin may help you lose weight. Otherwise, it probably won’t

Man holding a weight scale
Can forskolin really help you lose weight?

Forskolin for Erectile Dysfunction

Weight loss and free testosterone levels often go hand in hand. Normalizing testosterone levels in men with low testosterone can help them lose weight and gain muscle. 

One study concluded that cAMP can increase bone mass and free testosterone levels in obese men. There is a link between testosterone levels and erectile function, but it’s tenuous. Science says that normalizing testosterone levels in men with low testosterone may help with erections, but raising serum testosterone above normal levels has no impact on erections. 

Assuming that the cause of your erectile dysfunction is low testosterone, forskolin may help you restore your erections by increasing your serum testosterone. 

However, forskolin’s effects on erectile function may be deeper and further-reaching. It may help improve blood flow to your penis. And since weak blood flow to the penis causes most ED problems, forskolin may have a place among the many herbal ED supplements people take. 

According to one study, under certain circumstances, forskolin may act as a blood vessel dilator. It improves blood flow the way FDA-approved ED drugs do, but forskolin achieves its effects through different paths. 

Does Viagra Work Like Forskolin for Erectile Dysfunction?

In some ways, it does. But in many others, it does not. When injected into the base of the penis and combined with other compounds, forskolin successfully relaxes smooth muscles, which can result in better erections. 

Man holding syringe next to his genitalia
Injecting forskolin into your penis may improve your erections. 

The study that drew these conclusions looked at forskolin’s effectiveness in a laboratory setting. It followed up its findings with a clinical study on human subjects. The study found that 61 percent of patients reported erection improvements following intracavernosal injections with forskolin. 

Researchers found that forskolin worked best as a smooth muscle relaxant when combined with prostaglandin E2. Unlike forskolin, prostaglandin E2 is an FDA-approved solution for the injection-based treatment of erectile dysfunction. 

The two compounds cause smooth muscle relaxation through different means. Forskolin achieves its effects through cAMP, the same compound that may be responsible for its weight loss effects. 

Forskolin seems to work better as a muscle relaxant than prostaglandin E2 and the other compounds researchers used. The study authors concluded that forskolin may be a viable solution for ED treatment for those who don’t respond to other treatments. 

Side Effects of Forskolin

The human body seems to tolerate forskolin well, even when injected. But even though pure forskolin is not toxic, researchers have noted that forskolin extract may be toxic for the liver in high doses.  

Forskolin is not FDA-approved. It is an herbal weight loss supplement. Since the laws that control the quality of approved drugs do not apply to supplements, commercially available forskolin may be contaminated. 

It may also interact with certain drugs. If you take blood thinners, you should not take forskolin. Avoid it if you have low blood pressure, slow heart rate, or kidney disease.

How Does Forskolin Compare to Viagra and Cialis?

Forskolin can’t hold a candle to phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors like Viagra and Cialis as a practical solution for erectile dysfunction. 

Here’s why: 

  • The science behind its use as an ED supplement is questionable.
  • Forskolin may help with erections when injected directly into the penis.
  • It is unclear how much forskolin you would have to ingest to achieve comparable effects.
  • Viagra and Cialis are both FDA-approved, proven ED solutions.

Forskolin Is NOT an Alternative to FDA-approved Drugs

If you have erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor about it. Doctors will probably not recommend forskolin for erectile dysfunction. Nor are they likely to recommend it for weight loss. For best results, stick to FDA-approved drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. These medications have been studied extensively, and a large body of research has proven them safe and effective.

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