Botanical Name: Coleus forskohlii (Plectranthus barbatus)

Common Name: Coleus

Family: Lamiaceae


Description of Coleus Plant/Habitat:

Coleus (Plectranthus barbatus) is a small perennial member of the mint family which can be found growing in subtropical areas in India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It has tuberous roots and bright green leaves and has a distinctly camphor-like aroma.


Part(s) used:



Key Active Components:

Tisanes, rosmarinic acid, labdane diterpenoids (forskolin), essential oils.


Coleus Properties:

  • Coleus forskolin has shown antioxidant activity and acetylcholinesterase inhibition
  • Coleus forskolin increases cAMP. Higher levels of cAMP are associated with increased fat loss in research studies.


Coleus Taste/Character/Energetics:

Pungent, cooling but neutral energy


Summary of Actions:


Primary Actions:  positive ionotrope (increases forceful contraction), antispasmodic (relaxing), anti-platelet aggregant (A fib), vasodilator (relaxing)

Secondary Actions:  anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, insulin modulator


Medicinal Use:


  • Coleus is an ayurvedic herb that balances the three doshas, used for centuries as a premier herb to improve circulation and reduce inflammatory pathways


  • Inhibits platelet activity, decreasing the risk of blood clotting
  • Increases the force of the contraction of heart muscle improving heart function
  • Reduces blood pressure in hypertension without reducing contractility


  • Works as an antispasmodic in tissues
  • Reduces colic and cramping in GI and Urinary systems
  • Reduces bronchospasm through nervous system relaxation of smooth muscle
  • Anti-inflammatory indicated in joint swelling (rheumatism)


  • Reduces stimulation of histamine in allergic reactions
  • Inhibits the melanoma-induced platelet aggregation, and tumor colonization
  • Increases secretion of thyroid hormone
  • Improves fat metabolism and insulin modulation
  • Specific use for glaucoma when applied topically, decreasing intraocular pressure by reducing the flow of aqueous humor


Specific Indications:

  • Glaucoma- topically
  • Clotting issues
  • Hypertension
  • Heart function
  • Thyroid function
  • Rheumatic conditions
  • Asthma


Coleus Safety:

Theoretical additive effect when combined with hypotensive medications or blood thinners


Preparation and Dosage:

Tincture (1:3): 3-5 ml twice per day to three times per day

Infusion: 2-3 cups/day

Powdered: 200-400 mg twice per day


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Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. (2019). Coleus forskohlii Research Retrieved 14 May 2020, from 

Forskolin versus Sodium Cromoglycate for Prevention of Asthma Attacks: A Single-blinded Clinical Trial – R González-Sánchez, X Trujillo, B Trujillo-Hernández, C Vásquez, M Huerta, A Elizalde, 2006. (2020). Journal Of International Medical Research. Retrieved from

Godard, M., Johnson, B., & Richmond, S. (2005). Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men. Obesity Research13(8), 1335-1343. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.162 

Loftus, H., Astell, K., Mathai, M., & Su, X. (2015). 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. Nutrients7(11), 9508-9522. doi:10.3390/nu7115483