Coleus forskohlii
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Coleus forskohlii?

A member of the mint family, Coleus forskohliigrows 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 forskohliicould lower blood pressure and decrease muscle spasms. Intensive study identified a substance named forskolin that appeared to be responsible for much of this...

The scientific evidence for the herb Coleus forskohliias a treatment for any disease is weak. What is known relates to the substance forskolin rather than the whole herb.

Two preliminary controlled studies have found that oral forskolin may be beneficial for treatment of asthma . 1 Forskolin may work by stabilizing the cells that release histamine and other inflammatory compounds. 2 , as well as by relaxing smooth muscle tissue. 3 Based on these apparent effects, Coleus forskohliihas 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...

Safety Issues

The safety of Coleus forskohliiand 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."

In 2005, several cases of acute poisoning were reported in Italy, apparently caused by accidental contamination of Coleus forskohliiproducts with similar-appearing plants in the deadly nightshade family. 4 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:

  • Blood pressure medications such as: beta-blockers , clonidine , or hydralazine : Coleus forskohliishould...