Principal Proposed Uses
Other Proposed Uses
A member of the mint family, Coleus forskohlii grows wild on the mountain slopes of Nepal, India, and Thailand. In traditional Asian systems of medicine, it was used for a variety of purposes, including treating skin rashes, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia, epilepsy, and angina. But modern interest is based almost entirely on the work of a drug company, Hoechst Pharmaceuticals.
Like other drug manufacturers, Hoechst regularly screens medicinal plants in hopes of discovering new medications. In 1974, work performed in collaboration with the Indian Central Drug Research Institute found that the rootstock of Coleus forskohlii could lower blood pressure and decrease muscle spasms. Intensive study identified a substance named forskolin that appeared to be responsible for much of this effect.
The scientific evidence for the herb Coleus forskohlii as a treatment for any disease is weak. What is known relates to the substance forskolin rather than the whole herb.
Based on these apparent effects, Coleus forskohlii has been suggested as a useful treatment for eczema and other allergic conditions, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps), angina , irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon), crampy bladder pain (as in bladder infections ), and hypertension (high blood pressure). However, there is no direct evidence that it works.
Coleus forskohlii has also been proposed as a treatment for psoriasis , because that disease appears to be at least partly related to low levels of cyclic AMP in skin cells.
A common dosage recommendation is 50 mg 2 or 3 times a day of an extract standardized to contain 18% forskolin. However, because such an extract provides significant levels of forskolin, a drug with wide-ranging properties, we recommend that Coleus forskohlii extracts be taken only with a doctor's supervision.
The safety of Coleus forskohlii and forskolin has not been fully evaluated, although few significant risks have been noted in studies done so far. Caution should be exercised when combining this herb with blood-pressure medications and "blood thinners."
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Blood pressure medications such as: beta-blockers , clonidine , or hydralazine : Coleus forskohlii should only be used under the supervision of a physician.
- Blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), or pentoxifylline (Trental): Coleus forskohlii should only be used under the supervision of a physician.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -