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

Coleus forskohlii Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

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 effect.

Like certain drugs used for asthma, forskolin increases the levels of a fundamental natural compound known as cyclic AMP. 1 Cyclic AMP plays a major role in many cellular functions, and some drugs that affect it relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes.


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 forskohliiextracts be taken only with a doctor's supervision.


  1. Seamon KB, Daly JW. Forskolin: a unique diterpene activator of cAMP-generating systems. J Cyclic Nucleotide Res. 1981;7:201-224.


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