Coleus or forskolin are used for high blood pressure, chest pain (angina), asthma, dry eye, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support any of these uses.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- A heart condition called idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy. Some research shows that giving coleus intravenously (by IV) may improve the function of the heart in people with congestive cardiomyopathy.
- Asthma. Some research shows that inhaling a single dose of coleus can improve symptoms of asthma.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Asthma. It's unclear if coleus is beneficial for people with asthma. Research findings are inconsistent. Some research shows that inhaling a chemical from coleus called forskolin might improve breathing. Some research also shows that taking forskolin by mouth might reduce asthma attacks. But other research shows no benefit.
- Dry eye. Early research shows that taking a supplement containing coleus extract and other ingredients for 30 days moderately decreases dry eye symptoms. It's unclear if this benefit is due to coleus, other ingredients, or the combination.
- Erectile dysfunction (ED). Early research shows that injecting coleus into the base of the penis along with the drugs phentolamine, papaverine, and prostaglandin E1 improves sexual function in men with ED.
- High blood pressure. Early research shows that taking coleus root tuber or coleus whole root tablets for 2 months slightly decreases in blood pressure in elderly people with high blood pressure.
- Weakened and enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy). Some research shows that giving forskolin, a chemical found in coleus, by injection improves the function of the heart in people with a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy.
- A group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma). Early research shows that taking a specific supplement containing forskolin and other ingredients may slightly decrease eye pressure in people with glaucoma. Taking a different product containing coleus extract and other ingredients in addition to prescription drug therapy decreases eye pressure in people with glaucoma. It's unclear if these improvements are due to coleus, other ingredients, or the combination.
- Obesity. Early research shows that taking coleus extract doesn't decrease weight. But it may modestly decrease body fat in overweight and obese men. However, other early research has found no benefit for weight or fat loss.
- Blood clots.
- Chest pain (angina).
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Period pains.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder infections.
- Other conditions.
When given by IV: Coleus is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when given by IV. It can cause flushing and low blood pressure.
When inhaled: Coleus is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when inhaled (breathed in). It can cause throat irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness.
When applied into the eye: Coleus is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when applied as eye drops. Eye drops containing coleus can cause stinging.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking coleus if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorders: Coleus contains a chemical called forskolin that might increase the risk of bleeding in some people.
Heart disease: Coleus contains a chemical called forskolin that might lower blood pressure. There is some concern that coleus might interfere with treatment for heart or blood vessel diseases and could make these conditions worse. Use coleus with caution if you have a heart problem.
Low blood pressure: Coleus contains a chemical called forskolin that might lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure is already low, taking coleus might make it drop too much.
Surgery: Coleus contains a chemical called forskolin that might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using coleus at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers) interacts with COLEUS
Forskolin might decrease blood pressure. Taking forskolin with medication for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.
Medications that increase blood flow to the heart (Nitrates) interacts with COLEUS
Forskolin increases blood flow. Taking forskolin with medications that increase blood flow to the heart might increase the chance of dizziness and lightheadedness.
Some of these medications that increase blood flow to the heart include nitroglycerin (Nitro-Bid, Nitro-Dur, Nitrostat) and isosorbide (Imdur, Isordil, Sorbitrate).
Do not take this combination
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with COLEUS
Forskolin might slow blood clotting. Taking forskolin along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Be cautious with this combination
- Healthcare providers give forskolin intravenously (by IV) for a heart condition called idiopathic congestive cardiopathy.
- Under medical supervision, people with asthma breathe in forskolin powder using a Spinhaler inhalator.
Ahmad, F., Khan, M. M., Rastogi, A. K., and Kidwai, J. R. Insulin and glucagon releasing activity of coleonol (forskolin) and its effect on blood glucose level in normal and alloxan diabetic rats. Acta Diabetol Lat 1991;28(1):71-77. View abstract.
Bartels, S. P., Lee, S. R., and Neufeld, A. H. The effects of forskolin on cyclic AMP, intraocular pressure and aqueous humor formation in rabbits. Curr.Eye Res 1987;6(2):307-320. View abstract.
Battochio, A. P., Sartori, M. S., and Coelho, C. A. Water-soluble extract of Coleus barbatus modulates weight gain, energy utilization and lipid metabolism in secondary biliary cirrhosis: an experimental study in young rats. Acta Cir.Bras. 2005;20(3):229-236. View abstract.
Bersudsky, Y., Kotler, M., Shifrin, M., and Belmaker, R. H. A preliminary study of possible psychoactive effects of intravenous forskolin in depressed and schizophrenic patients. Short communication. J Neural Transm. 1996;103(12):1463-1467. View abstract.
Cahn, D., Melman, A., Valcic, M., and Christ, G. J. Forskolin: a promising new adjunct to intracavernous pharmacotherapy. J Urol 1996;155(5):1789-1794. View abstract.
Caprioli, J., Sears, M., Mead, A., Kosley, R. W., Jr., Cherill, R. J., Hugher, F. P., Allen, R. C., and Tressler, C. Adenylate cyclase stimulation and intraocular pressure reduction by forskolin analogs. J Ocul.Pharmacol 1989;5(3):181-187. View abstract.
Christenson, J. T., Thulesius, O., and Nazzal, M. Impregnation of polytetrafluoethylene (PTFE) vascular grafts with C-14-forskolin, a new concept in surface treatment of grafts. Vasa 1990;19(4):315-319. View abstract.
Christenson, J. T., Thulesius, O., Owunwanne, A., and Nazzal, M. Forskolin impregnation of small calibre PTFE grafts lowers early platelet graft sequestration and improves patency in a sheep model. Eur.J Vasc.Surg 1991;5(3):271-275. View abstract.
Damanik, R., Wahlqvist, M. L., and Wattanapenpaiboon, N. Lactagogue effects of Torbangun, a Bataknese traditional cuisine. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2006;15(2):267-274. View abstract.
Ding, X. and Staudinger, J. L. Induction of drug metabolism by forskolin: the role of the pregnane X receptor and the protein kinase a signal transduction pathway. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2005;312(2):849-856. View abstract.
Dooms-Goossens, A., Borghijs, A., Degreef, H., Devriese, E. G., and Geuns, J. M. Airborne contact dermatitis to Coleus. Contact Dermatitis 1987;17(2):109-110. View abstract.
Dubey, M. P., Srimal, R. C., Nityanand, S., and Dhawan, B. N. Pharmacological studies on coleonol, a hypotensive diterpene from Coleus forskohlii. J Ethnopharmacol 1981;3(1):1-13. View abstract.
Ealey, P. A., Kohn, L. D., Marshall, N. J., and Ekins, R. P. Forskolin stimulation of naphthylamidase in guinea pig thyroid sections detected with a cytochemical bioassay. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh) 1985;108(3):367-371. View abstract.
Han, L. K., Morimoto, C., Yu, R. H., and Okuda, H. Effects of Coleus forskohlii on fat storage in ovariectomized rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2005;125(5):449-453. View abstract.
Hayashida, N., Chihara, S., Tayama, E., Takaseya, T., Enomoto, N., Kawara, T., and Aoyagi, S. Antiinflammatory effects of colforsin daropate hydrochloride, a novel water-soluble forskolin derivative. Ann Thorac.Surg. 2001;71(6):1931-1938. View abstract.
Ishikawa, Y. Isoform-targeted regulation of cardiac adenylyl cyclase. J Cardiovasc.Pharmacol 2003;41 Suppl 1:S1-S4. View abstract.
Kaik, G. and Witte, P. U. [Protective effect of forskolin in acetylcholine provocation in healthy probands. Comparison of 2 doses with fenoterol and placebo]. Wien Med Wochenschr 12-31-1986;136(23-24):637-641. View abstract.
Lebedinsky, Y., Nordstrom, S. T., Aschoff, S. E., Kapples, J. F., O'Malley, G. J., Kosley, R. W., Jr., Fielding, S., and Hubbard, J. W. Cardiotonic and coronary vasodilator responses to milrinone, forskolin, and analog P87-7692 in the anesthetized dog. J Cardiovasc.Pharmacol 1992;19(5):779-789. View abstract.
Li, Z. and Wang, J. A forskolin derivative, FSK88, induces apoptosis in human gastric cancer BGC823 cells through caspase activation involving regulation of Bcl-2 family gene expression, dissipation of mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release. Cell Biol Int 2006;30(11):940-946. View abstract.
Lichey, I., Friedrich, T., Priesnitz, M., Biamino, G., Usinger, P., and Huckauf, H. Effect of forskolin on methacholine-induced bronchoconstriction in extrinsic asthmatics. Lancet 7-21-1984;2(8395):167. View abstract.
Lindner, E., Dohadwalla, A. N., and Bhattacharya, B. K. Positive inotropic and blood pressure lowering activity of a diterpene derivative isolated from Coleus forskohli: Forskolin. Arzneimittelforschung 1978;28(2):284-289. View abstract.
Maeda, H., Ozawa, H., Saito, T., Irie, T., and Takahata, N. Potential antidepressant properties of forskolin and a novel water- soluble forskolin (NKH477) in the forced swimming test. Life Sci 1997;61(25):2435-2442. View abstract.
Marone, G., Columbo, M., Triggiani, M., Cirillo, R., Genovese, A., and Formisano, S. Inhibition of IgE-mediated release of histamine and peptide leukotriene from human basophils and mast cells by forskolin. Biochem Pharmacol 1-1-1987;36(1):13-20. View abstract.
Matsumoto, S., Yamashita, T., Araie, M., Kametani, S., Hosokawa, T., and Takase, M. The ocular penetration of topical forskolin and its effects on intraocular pressure, aqueous flow rate and cyclic AMP level in the rabbit eye. Jpn.J Ophthalmol. 1990;34(4):428-435. View abstract.
Mulhall, J. P., Daller, M., Traish, A. M., Gupta, S., Park, K., Salimpour, P., Payton, T. R., Krane, R. J., and Goldstein, I. Intracavernosal forskolin: role in management of vasculogenic impotence resistant to standard 3-agent pharmacotherapy. J Urol 1997;158(5):1752-1758. View abstract.
Pieske, B., Trost, S., Schutt, K., Minami, K., Just, H., and Hasenfuss, G. Influence of forskolin on the force-frequency behavior in nonfailing and end-stage failing human myocardium. Basic Res Cardiol. 1998;93 Suppl 1:66-75. View abstract.
Rembold, C. M. and Chen, X. L. Mechanisms responsible for forskolin-induced relaxation of rat tail artery. Hypertension 1998;31(3):872-877. View abstract.
Sashidhara, K. V., Rosaiah, J. N., Kumar, A., Bid, H. K., Konwar, R., and Chattopadhyay, N. Cell growth inhibitory action of an unusual labdane diterpene, 13-epi-sclareol in breast and uterine cancers in vitro. Phytother Res 2007;21(11):1105-1108. View abstract.
Schlepper, M., Thormann, J., and Mitrovic, V. Cardiovascular effects of forskolin and phosphodiesterase-III inhibitors. Basic Res Cardiol 1989;84 Suppl 1:197-212. View abstract.
Shen, Y. H. and Xu, Y. L. Two new diterpenoids from Coleus forskohlii. J Asian Nat Prod Res 2005;7(6):811-815. View abstract.
Staudinger, J. L., Ding, X., and Lichti, K. Pregnane X receptor and natural products: beyond drug-drug interactions. Expert.Opin Drug Metab Toxicol 2006;2(6):847-857. View abstract.
Undem, B. J. and Buckner, C. K. Effects of forskolin alone and in combination with isoproterenol on antigen-induced histamine release from guinea-pig minced lung. Arch Int Pharmacodyn.Ther. 1986;281(1):110-119. View abstract.
van Hecke, E., Hindryckx, P., Geuns, J. M., and Devriese, E. Airborne contact dermatitis from coleus in a housewife. Contact Dermatitis 1991;25(2):128-129. View abstract.
Wajima, Z., Shiga, T., Yoshikawa, T., Ogura, A., Imanaga, K., Inoue, T., and Ogawa, R. Effect of prophylactic bronchodilator treatment with intravenous colforsin daropate, a water-soluble forskolin derivative, on airway resistance after tracheal intubation. Anesthesiology 2003;99(1):18-26. View abstract.
Wong, S., Mok, W., Phaneuf, S., Katz, S., and Salari, H. Forskolin inhibits platelet-activating factor binding to platelet receptors independently of adenylyl cyclase activation. Eur J Pharmacol 3-15-1993;245(1):55-61. View abstract.
Xu, L. L., Lu, J., Li, W. J., and Kong, L. Y. [Studies on the chemical constituents in root of Coleus forskohlii]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 2005;30(22):1753-1755. View abstract.
Yanagihara, H., Sakata, R., Shoyama, Y., and Murakami, H. Rapid analysis of small samples containing forskolin using monoclonal antibodies. Planta Med 1996;62(2):169-172. View abstract.
Yang, Q. R., Wu, H. Z., Wang, X. M., Zou, G. A., and Liu, Y. W. Three new diterpenoids from Coleus forskohlii Briq. J Asian Nat Prod Res 2006;8(4):355-360. View abstract.
Zeng, S., Shen, B., Wen, L., Hu, B., Peng, D., Chen, X., and Zhou, W. Experimental studies of the effect of Forskolin on the lowering of intraocular pressure. Yan.Ke.Xue.Bao. 1995;11(3):173-176. View abstract.
Agarwal KC, Parks RE. Forskolin: a potential antimetastatic agent. Int J Cancer 1983;32:801-4. View abstract.
Agarwal KC, Zielinski BA, Maitra RS. Significance of plasma adenosine in the antiplatelet activity of forskolin: potentiation by dipyridamole and dilazep. Thromb Haemost 1989;61:106-10. View abstract.
Almeida, F. C. and Lemonica, I. P. The toxic effects of Coleus barbatus B. on the different periods of pregnancy in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2000;73(1-2):53-60. View abstract.
Ammon HP, Muller AB. Forskolin: From a ayurvedic remedy to a modern agent. Planta Med 1985;6:473-7.
Bauer K, Dietersdorfer F, Kaspar S, et al. Pharmacodynamic effects of inhaled dry powder formulations of fenoterol and colforsin in asthma. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1993;53:76-83. View abstract.
Baumann G, Felix S, Sattelberger U, Klein G. Cardiovascular effects of forskolin (HL-362) in patients with idiopathic congestiv cardiomyopathy. A comparative study with dobutamine and sodium nitroprusside. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 1990;16:93-100. View abstract.
Brubaker RF, Carlson KH, Kullerstrand LJ, et al. Topical forskolin (colforsin) and aqueous flow in humans. Arch Ophthalmol 1987;105:637-41. View abstract.
Burstein NL, Sears ML, Mead A. Aqueous flow in human eyes is reduced by forskolin, a potent adenylate cyclase activator. Exp Eye Res 1984;39:745-9. View abstract.
Caprioli J, Sears M, Bausher L, et al. Forskolin lowers intraocular pressure by reducing aqueous inflow. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 1984;25:268-77. View abstract.
Caprioli J, Sears M. Forskolin lowers intraocular pressure in rabbits, monkeys, and man. Lancet 1983;1:958-60. View abstract.
Christenson JT, Thulesius O, Nazzal MM. The effect of forskolin on blood flow, platelet metabolism, aggregation and ATP release. Vasa 1995;24:56-61. View abstract.
Godard MP, Johnson BA, Richmond SR. Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. Obes Res. 2005;13(8):1335-43. View abstract.
González-Sánchez R, Trujillo X, Trujillo-Hernández B, et al. Forskolin versus sodium cromoglycate for prevention of asthma attacks: a single-blinded clinical trial. J Int Med Res. 2006 Mar-Apr;34(2):200-7. View abstract.
Huerta M, Urzúa 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(2):661-8. View abstract.
Jagtap M, Chandola HM, Ravishankar B. Clinical efficacy of Coleus forskohlii (Willd.) Briq. (Makandi) in hypertension of geriatric population. Ayu. 2011;32(1):59-65. View abstract.
Kramer W, Thormann J, Kindler M, Schlepper M. Effects of forskolin on left ventricular function in dilated cardiomyopathy. Arzneimittelforschung 1987;37:364-7. View abstract.
Kreutner W, Chapman RW, Gulbenkian A, Tozzi S. Bronchodilator and antiallergy activity of forskolin. Eur J Pharmacol 1985;111:1-8. View abstract.
Lindner E, Metzger H. The action of forskolin on muscle cells is modified by hormones, calcium ions and calcium antagonists. Arzneimittelforschung 1983;33:1436-41. View abstract.
Loftus HL, Astell KJ, Mathai ML, et al. Coleus forskohlii Extract Supplementation in Conjunction with a Hypocaloric Diet Reduces the Risk Factors of Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight and Obese Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2015;7(11):9508-22. View abstract.
Metzger H, Lindner E. The positive inotropic-acting forskolin, a potent adenylatecyclase activator. Arzneimittelforschung 1981;31:1248-50. View abstract.
Meyer BH, Stulting AA, Muller FO, et al. The effects of forskolin eye drops on intra-ocular pressure. S Afr Med J 1987;71:570-1. View abstract.
Mutolo MG, Albanese G, Rusciano D, Pescosolido N. Oral administration of forskolin, homotaurine, carnosine, and folic acid in patients with primary open angle glaucoma: changes in intraocular pressure, pattern electroretinogram amplitude, and foveal sensitivity. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther 2016;32(3):178-83. View abstract.
Nebbioso M, Belcaro G, Librando A, et al. Forskolin and rutin prevent intraocular pressure spikes after Nd:YAG laser iridotomy. Panminerva Med. 2012;54(1 Suppl 4):77-82. View abstract.
Nebbioso M, Rusciano D, Pucci B, et al. Treatment of glaucomatous patients by means of food supplement to reduce the ocular discomfort: a double blind randomized trial. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013;17(8):1117-22. View abstract.
Nishijima C, Chiba T, Sato Y, Umegaki K. Nationwide Online Survey Enables the Reevaluation of the Safety of Coleus forskohlii Extract Intake Based on the Adverse Event Frequencies. Nutrients. 2019;11(4). pii: E866. View abstract.
Seamon KB, Daly JW. Forskolin: a unique diterpene activator of cyclic AMP-generating systems. J Cyclic Nucleotide Res 1981;7:201-24. View abstract.
Seto C, Eguchi S, Araie M, et al. Acute effects of topical forskolin on aqueous humor dynamics in man. Jpn J Ophthalmol 1986;30:238-44. View abstract.
Tzanakakis GN, Agarwal KC, Vezeridis MP. Inhibition of hepatic metastasis from a human pancreatic adenocarcinoma (RWP-2) in the nude mouse by prostacyclin, forskolin, and ketoconazole. Cancer 1990;65:446-51. View abstract.
Vetrugno M, Uva MG, Russo V, et al. Oral administration of forskolin and rutin contributes to intraocular pressure control in primary open angle glaucoma patients under maximum tolerated medical therapy. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2012;28(5):536-41. View abstract.
Yokotani K, Chiba T, Sato Y, et al. Hepatic cytochrome P450 mediates interaction between warfarin and Coleus forskohlii extract in vivo and in vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2012;64(12):1793-801. View abstract.
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