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Coleus

Uses

Common names:
Makandi
Botanical names:
Coleus forskohlii

Parts Used & Where Grown

This attractive, perennial member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family originated in the lower elevations of India. It is now grown around the world as an ornamental plant. The root is used medicinally.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Glaucoma
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
Studies have shown that intraocular pressure may be lowered by directly applying a sterile fluid extract of forskolin, a constituent of the Ayurvedic herb Coleus forskohlii.

Studies in healthy humans, including at least one double-blind trial, have repeatedly shown that intraocular pressure is lowered by direct application of forskolin, a constituent of the Ayurvedic herb Coleus forskohlii .2 , 3 Until ophthalmic preparations of coleus or forskolin are available, people with glaucoma should consult with a skilled healthcare practitioner to obtain a sterile fluid extract for use in the eyes. Direct application of the whole herb to the eyes has not been studied and is not advised.

1 Star
Asthma
50 to 100 mg of an extract standardized to 18% forskolin, taken two to three times per day
One trial found that a constituent of coleus, called forskolin, when inhaled, could decrease lung spasms in asthmatics.

A small double-blind trial found that a constituent of coleus , called forskolin, when inhaled, could decrease lung spasms in asthmatics compared to placebo.4 Coleus extracts standardized to 18% forskolin are available, and 50 to 100 mg can be taken two to three times per day. Fluid extract can be taken in the amount of 2 to 4 ml three times per day. Most trials have used injected forskolin, so it is unclear whether oral ingestion of coleus extracts will provide similar benefits in the amounts recommended above. One study found that 10 mg per day of forskolin taken orally for 2 months was of no benefit for adult asthmatics.5

1 Star
Cardiomyopathy
Refer to label instructions
Coleus contains forskolin, a substance that may help dilate blood vessels and improve the forcefulness with which the heart pumps blood.

Another Ayurvedic herb, coleus , contains forskolin, a substance that may help dilate blood vessels and improve the forcefulness with which the heart pumps blood.6 Recent clinical studies indicate that forskolin improves heart function in people with cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.7 , 8 A preliminary trial found that forskolin reduced blood pressure and improved heart function in people with cardiomyopathy. These trials used intravenous injections of isolated forskolin. It is unknown whether oral coleus extracts would have the same effect. While many doctors and practitioners of herbal medicine would recommend 200 to 600 mg per day of a coleus extract containing 10% forskolin, these amounts are extrapolations and have yet to be confirmed by direct clinical research.

1 Star
Congestive Heart Failure
Refer to label instructions
Coleus contains forskolin, a substance that may help dilate blood vessels and improve the forcefulness with which the heart pumps blood.

Coleus contains forskolin, a substance that may help dilate blood vessels and improve the forcefulness with which the heart pumps blood.9 Recent clinical trials indicate that forskolin improves heart function in people with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy .10 , 11 A preliminary trial found that forskolin reduced blood pressure and improved heart function in people with cardiomyopathy. These trials have used intravenous infusions of isolated forskolin. It is unknown whether oral coleus extracts would have the same effect. While many doctors expert in herbal medicine would recommend 200–600 mg per day of a coleus extract containing 10% forskolin, these amounts are extrapolations and have yet to be confirmed by direct clinical research.

1 Star
Hypertension
Refer to label instructions
Forskolin, the active ingredient in Coleus forskohlii, has lowered blood pressure in a trial with people suffering from cardiomyopathy.

Human trials investigating the use of Coleus forskohlii in blood pressure reduction have yet to be conducted. However, forskolin, the active ingredient in Coleus forskohlii, has lowered blood pressure in a small, preliminary trial with people suffering from cardiomyopathy .12 Extracts of coleus standardized to contain 15–20% forskolin are available, but further trials are needed to determine effective levels for treating people with hypertension.

1 Star
Obesity
Refer to label instructions
Coleus has been recommended by practitioners of herbal medicine for weight loss.
Although no clinical trials have been done, there are modern references to use of the herb coleus for weight loss.13 Coleus extracts standardized to 18% forskolin are available, and 50 to 100 mg can be taken two to three times per day. Fluid extract can be taken in the amount of 2 to 4 ml three times per day.
1 Star
Psoriasis
Refer to label instructions
Some herbalists use the herb coleus in treating people with psoriasis.

Although clinical trials are lacking, some herbalists use the herb, coleus , in treating people with psoriasis.14 Coleus extracts standardized to 18% forskolin are available, and 50 to 100 mg can be taken two to three times per day. Fluid extract can be taken in the amount of 2 to 4 ml three times per day.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

As recorded in ancient Sanskrit texts, coleus was used in Ayurvedic medicine1 to treat heart and lung diseases, intestinal spasms, insomnia , and convulsions.

How It Works

Common names:
Makandi
Botanical names:
Coleus forskohlii

How It Works

Forskolin, a chemical found in coleus, activates the enzyme adenylate cyclase.15 This enzyme is a turnkey compound that initiates a cascade of critical events within every cell of the body. Adenylate cyclase and the chemicals it activates comprise a “second messenger” system that is responsible for carrying out the complex and powerful effects of hormones in the body. Stimulation of the second messenger system by forskolin leads to blood vessel dilation,16 inhibition of allergic reactions,17 and an increase in thyroid hormone secretion.18 Forskolin has other properties as well, including inhibition of the pro-inflammatory substance known as platelet-activating factor (PAF)19 and inhibition of the spread of cancer cells.20

Studies in healthy humans, including at least one double-blind trial, have shown that direct application of an ophthalmic preparation of forskolin to the eyes lowers eye pressure,21 , 22 thus reducing the risk of glaucoma . Direct application of the whole herb to the eyes has not been studied and is not recommended.

Forskolin may help dilate blood vessels and improve the forcefulness with which the heart pumps blood. A preliminary trial found that forskolin reduced blood pressure and improved heart function in people with cardiomyopathy .23 It is unknown if oral coleus extracts would have the same effect. A small double-blind trial found that inhaled forskolin could decrease lung spasms in asthmatics .24 It is unclear if oral ingestion of coleus extracts will provide similar benefits.

How to Use It

Coleus extracts standardized to 10 to 18% forskolin are available. While some doctors expert in herbal medicine recommend 50–100 mg two to three times per day of standardized coleus extract, these amounts are extrapolations and have yet to be confirmed by direct clinical research.25 Most studies have used injected forskolin, so it is unclear if oral ingestion of coleus extracts will provide similar benefits in the amounts recommended above. Until ophthalmic preparations of coleus or forskolin are available, people with glaucoma should consult with a skilled healthcare practitioner to obtain a sterile fluid extract for use in the eyes.

Interactions

Common names:
Makandi
Botanical names:
Coleus forskohlii

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • Albuterol

    A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol (albuterol) were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii. 26 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists such as albuterol might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with albuterol without the supervision of a doctor.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Ephedrine

    A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol, a drug with similar actions in the lung to ephedrine, were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii. 27 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists (like ephedrine) might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with ephedrine without the supervision of a doctor.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Epinephrine

    A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol, a drug with similar actions in the lung to epinephrine, were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii.28 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with epinephrine without the supervision of a doctor.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Salmeterol

    A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol, another beta-adrenergic bronchodilator drug, were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii.29 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with salmeterol without the supervision of a doctor.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • none

Potential Negative Interaction

  • Aspirin

    There are theoretical grounds to believe that coleus  (Coleus forskohlii) could increase the effect of anti-platelet medicines such as aspirin, possibly leading to spontaneous bleeding. However, this has never been documented to occur. Controlled human research is needed to determine whether people taking aspirin should avoid coleus.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
  • Pseudoephedrine

    A test tube study demonstrated that the bronchodilating effects of salbutamol, a drug with similar actions in the lung to ephedrine, were significantly increased by the addition of forskolin, the active component of the herb Coleus forskohlii. 30 The results of this preliminary research suggest that the combination of forskolin and beta-agonists (like ephedrine) might provide an alternative to raising the doses of the beta-agonist drugs as they lose effectiveness. Until more is known, coleus should not be combined with ephedrine without the supervision of a doctor.

    The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.

Explanation Required

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
Makandi
Botanical names:
Coleus forskohlii

Side Effects

Few adverse effects of coleus have been reported. It should be avoided in people with ulcers , because it may increase stomach acid levels. Direct application to the eyes may cause transitory tearing, burning, and itching. The safety of coleus in pregnancy and breast-feeding is unknown.

References

1. Dubey MP, Srimal RC, Nityanand S, Dhawan BN. Pharmacological studies on coleonol, a hypotensive diterpene from Coleus forskohlii. J Ethnopharmacol 1981;3:1-13.

2. Caprioli J, Sears M. Forskolin lowers intraocular pressure in rabbits, monkeys and man. Lancet 1983;1:958-60.

3. Badian M, Dabrowski J, Grigoleit HG, et al. Effect of forskolin eyedrops on intraocular pressure in healthy males. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1984;185:522-6 [in German].

4. Bauer K, Dietersdorfer F, Sertl K, et al. Pharmacodynamic effects of inhaled dry powder formulations of fenoterol and colforsin in asthma. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1993;43:76-83.

5. Huerta M, Urzua Z, Trujillo X, et al. Forskolin compared with beclomethasone for prevention of asthma attacks: a single-blind clinical trial. J Int Med Res 2010;38:661-8.

6. Lindner E, Dohadwalla AN, Bhattacharya BK. Positive inotropic and blood pressure lowering activity of a diterpene derivative isolated from Coleus forskohli: Forskolin. Arzneimittelforschung. 1978;28:284-9.

7. Baumann G, Felix S, Sattelberger U, Klein G. Cardiovascular effects of forskolin (HL 362) in patients with idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy—a comparative study with dobutamine and sodium nitroprusside. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1990;16:93-100.

8. Kramer W, Thormann J, Kindler M, Schlepper M. Effects of forskolin on left ventricular function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Arzneimittelforschung 1987;37:364-7.

9. Lindner E, Dohadwalla AN, Bhattacharya BK. Positive inotropic and blood pressure lowering activity of a diterpene derivative isolated from Coleus forskohli: Forskolin. Arzneimittelforschung. 1978;28:284-9.

10. Baumann G, Felix S, Sattelberger U, Klein G. Cardiovascular effects of forskolin (HL 362) in patients with idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy—a comparative study with dobutamine and sodium nitroprusside. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1990;16:93-100.

11. Kramer W, Thormann J, Kindler M, Schlepper M. Effects of forskolin on left ventricular function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Arzneimittelforschung 1987;37:364-7.

12. Kramer W, Thormann J, Kindler M, Schlepper M. Effects of forskolin on left ventricular function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Arzneimittelforschung 1987;37:364-7.

13. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 103-7.

14. Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Warwick, Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996, 103-7.

15. Seamon KB, Daly JW. Forskolin: A unique diterpene activator of cAMP-generating systems. J Cyclic Nucleotide Res 1981;7:201-24 [review].

16. Wysham DG, Brotherton AF, Heistad DD. Effects of forskolin on cerebral blood flow: Implications for the role of adenylate cyclase. Stroke 1986;17:1299-303.

17. Marone G, Columbo M, Triggiani M, et al. Forskolin inhibits the release of histamine from human basophils and mast cells. Agents Actions 1986;18:96-9.

18. Roger PP, Servais P, Dumont JE. Regulation of dog thyroid epithelial cell cycle by forskolin, an adenylate cyclase activator. Exp Cell Res 1990;172:282-92.

19. Wong S, Mok W, Phaneuf S, et al. Forskolin inhibits platelet-activating factor binding to platelet receptors independently of adenylyl cyclase activation. Eur J Pharmacol 1993;245:55-61.

20. Agarwal KC, Parks RE. Forskolin: A potential antimetastatic agent. Int J Cancer 1983;32:801-4.

21. Caprioli J, Sears M. Forskolin lowers intraocular pressure in rabbits, monkeys and man. Lancet 1983;1:958-60.

22. Badian M, Dabrowski J, Grigoleit HG, et al. Effect of forskolin eyedrops on intraocular pressure in healthy males. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1984;185:522-6 [in German].

23. Kramer W, Thormann J, Kindler M, Schlepper M. Effects of forskolin on left ventricular function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Arzneimittelforschung 1987;37:364-7.

24. Bauer K, Dietersdorfer F, Sertl K, et al. Pharmacodynamic effects of inhaled dry powder formulations of fenoterol and colforsin in asthma. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1993;43:76-83.

25. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Queensland, Australia: Phytotherapy Press, 1996.

26. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181-6.

27. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181-6.

28. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181-6.

29. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181-6.

30. Yousif MH, Thulesius O. Forskolin reverses tachyphylaxis to the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol: an in-vitro study on isolated guinea-pig trachea. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999;51:181-6.

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