Coleus (generic name)

treats Breathing aid for intubation, Cardiomyopathy, Glaucoma, Erectile dysfunction, Depression and schizophrenia, Asthma, Anti-inflammatory ac...
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Alternate Title

Coleus forskohlii


Herbs & Supplements


Coleon U-quinone coleus, coleonol, Coleus amboinicus Lour (CA), Coleus barbatus Benth, Coleus blumei, Coleus blumei Benth, Coleus carnosifolius, Coleus galeatus, Coleus kilimandschari, Coleus parvifolius, Coleus scutellarioides, coleus solenostemon rotundifolius, Coleus xanthanthus, colforsin, colforsin daropate hydrochloride, forscolin, forskoditerpenoside A, forskoditerpenoside B, forskolin, forskolin G, forskolin H, HL 362, FSK88, Labiatae (family), Lamiaceae (family), L-75-1362B, NKH477, Plectranthus barbat us, Plectranthus forskohlii, rosmarinic acid, rosmarinic acid, xanthanthusin E, xanthanthusins F-K.


Coleus species have been used in the Asian traditional medicine to treat angina, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, insomnia, skin rashes, and a wide range of digestive problems. Since the 1970s, research was predominantly concentrated on forskolin, a root extract of Coleus forskohlii. Early study suggests that forskolin may have clinical use in treating heart, lung and eye conditions.

Although most studies have used the isolated forskolin extract, it is believed that the whole coleus plant may be more effective, due to the presence of multiple compounds that may act synergistically. Generally, coleus appears to be well tolerated with few adverse effects.


DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Asthma: There is a lack of sufficient data to recommend for or against the use of coleus in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
Grade: B

Cardiomyopathy: Forskolin may improve heart function in patients with cardiomyopathy. However, additional study is needed to confirm these findings.
Grade: B

Glaucoma: Some evidence suggests that coleus improves glaucoma. More studies are needed.
Grade: B

Anti-inflammatory action after cardiopulmonary bypass: There is a lack of sufficient data to recommend for or against the use of coleus, to patients recovering after cardiopulmonary bypass, for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Grade: C

Breast milk stimulant: Coleus has been used as a breast milk stimulant for hundreds of years, however, the traditional use has not been well documented and scientific evidence is limited.
Grade: C

Breathing aid for intubation: Pretreatment with coleus before intubation may be beneficial, especially for middle-aged smokers. More research is needed.
Grade: C

Depression and schizophrenia: Limited evidence suggests that coleus may be useful in the management of depression or schizophrenia.
Grade: C

Erectile dysfunction: Forskolin may enhance smooth muscle relaxation. More study is needed to assess the use of coleus in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Grade: C


WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abdominal colic, abdominal cramps, abortion, allergies, angina (chest pain), anti-HIV 1, antioxidant, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), atopic dermatitis, autoimmune diseases, bladder infection, bladder pain, bloating, bronchitis, cancer, cataract, cerebral vascular insufficiency, circulatory tonic, congestive heart failure, convulsions, diabetes, digestion, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), eczema, epilepsy, gas, gastric diseases, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), immunostimulant, inflammatory disease, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ischemic heart disease, liver diseases, malabsorption, menstrual cramps, metastatic cancer, obesity, painful urination, peptic ulcer, poor sperm motility, psoriasis (chronic skin disease), skin rashes, spasmolytic spastic colon, stroke, thrombosis (blood clots), urinary tract infection (UTI), weight-loss, worms.


Adults (18 years and older)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for coleus. Many natural medicine experts recommend 50 milligrams of coleus extract (18% forskolin), taken 1-3 times daily by mouth, although the safety or efficacy of these doses has not been demonstrated. A dose of 250 milligrams of less-concentrated coleus extract (1% forskolin) taken 1-3 times daily has also been commonly used. As a dried root, 6-12 grams daily has been used, and as a fluid extract, 6-12 milliliters daily has been used.

Colforsin daropate 0.5-0.75mcg/kg-1/min-1 has been used for its anti-inflammatory action after cardiopulmonary bypass and to aid in airway resistance after tracheal intubation. Although coleus has been studied for depression, schizophrenia, cardiomyopathy and glaucoma, no commercially available products have been proven safe for these uses.

Children (younger than 18 years)

There is no proven safe or effective dose for coleus in children.


DISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.


Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Coleus forskohlii and related species. Rash may occur in sensitive individuals.

Side Effects and Warnings

Coleus is generally regarded as safe, although long-term safety data are lacking. Inhalation of forskolin may cause sore throat, upper respiratory tract irritation, mild to moderate cough, tremor, or restlessness. Coleus eye drops may produce a milky covering over the eyes.

Coleus may lower blood sugar and stimulate the thyroid gland. Use cautiously in patients with thyroid disorders. Also use cautiously in diabetic patients. Colenol, a compound isolated from coleus, stimulates insulin release.

Theoretically, coleus may increase the risk of bleeding. Use cautiously in patients with a history of bleeding, hemostatic disorders or drug-related hemostatic problems. Discontinue use in patients at least two weeks prior to surgical or dental procedure, due to risk of bleeding. Avoid use in patients with active bleeding.

Use cautiously in patients with low blood pressure or those at risk for hypotension. Also use cautiously in patients with heart disease or asthma.

Avoid during pregnancy due to possibility of abortifacient (abortion inducing) effects.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Coleus is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. It is unknown if coleus is excreted in the breast milk.

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