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Herb Reference Guide

Coleus

History

This plant is native to areas in the lower elevations of India. This species is named after Swedish Naturalist Peter Forskal who is credited with its discovery. Coleus is a member of the Lamiaceae or Mint family and smells like camphor. It has been used for over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic Medicine. In ancient Sanskrit texts it is known as Makandi and was said to have been used for supporting healthy functioning heart and lungs, and a number of other functions in the body.

Function

One of the most predominant active chemicals in Coleus is called Forskolin. A recent PubMed search yielded 17,256 studies on this plant compound. There are over 35 known biological activities for Forskolin alone. One of the most interesting, researched and prospectively helpful is its it’s ability to promote healthy cells through the enzyme Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate (cAMP). This enzyme is a cellular messenger, you can think of it as the “intelligence” of the cell for when a cell is carrying out it’s function properly, high amounts of cAMP are found and when a cell is not functioning properly, low amounts are found. Low cAMP levels are found in hypersensitized mast cells and other unhealthy cells that will not “burn” their stored fat. Much research has been done on adrenergic beta receptors and Forskolin. One recent study reviewed the regional differences in adipose tissue metabolism in women when given Forskolin from Coleus Forskohlii root. Although much research has been done on the chemical Forskolin, the exact mechanism of the action of the root extract has yet to be determined.

Uses of Coleus

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

The chief alkaloid found is Forskohlii. Many other diterpenoids as deacetyl forskolin, 9-deoxyforskolin, 1, 9-deoxyforskolin,1, 9-dideoxy- 7-deacetylforskolin have been isolated. Other minor phytochemicals are allylroyleanone, barbatusin, plectrin, plectirinon A, acetoxycoleosol, coleol, coleonone, coleosol, deoxycoleonol, crocetin dialehyde, napthopyrones.

Parts Used

  • Root

Important precautions

Additional Resources

Snow, JM. Coleus Forskohlii Wild (Lamiaceae) Protocol Journal of Botanical Medicine 1995 Autumn; 1(2): 39-42

Arner P, et al. Importance of cyclic AMP concentration for the rate of lipolysis in human adipose tissue. Clin Sci. 1980; 59(3): 199-201

Diabetes 2006 May; 55(5): 1353-60