Slideshows Images Quizzes


font size

What other names is Coleus known by?

17beta-acetoxy-8,13-epoxy-1alpha, 6beta,9alpha-trihydroxylabd-14-en-11-one, Borforsin, Coleus, Coleus Barbatus, Coleus Forskolii, Coleus Forskohlii, Coleus Penzigii, Colforsin, Colforsine, Forskohlii, Forskolin, Forskolina, Forskoline, Gandir, Garamar, HL-362, L-75-1362B, Makandi, Plectranthus Barbatus, Plectranthus forskohlii.

What is Coleus?

Coleus is a plant that has been used since ancient times to treat heart disorders such as high blood pressure and chest pain (angina), as well as respiratory disorders such as asthma. Forskolin is a chemical found in the roots of the coleus plant.

When taken by mouth, coleus is used to treat allergies, dry eye, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, obesity, painful menstrual periods, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), urinary tract infections (UTI), bladder infections, advanced cancer, blood clots, sexual problems in men, trouble sleeping (insomnia), and convulsions.

Healthcare providers sometimes give coleus intravenously (by IV) for heart failure.

Some people breathe in (inhale) coleus powder for asthma.

Coleus drops are used in the eyes to treat glaucoma.

Herbal product manufacturers are now producing Coleus extracts that contain high levels of forskolin. These preparations are being promoted for the same conditions for which forskolin has been traditionally used. However, currently there is no reliable scientific information that shows Coleus extracts taken by mouth are effective.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. It is not known if coleus is beneficial for treating asthma because research findings are inconsistent. Some research shows that inhaling a chemical from coleus called forskolin might improve breathing. Some research shows that taking forskolin by mouth might reduce asthma attacks, but other research shows no benefit.
  • Dry eye. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination supplement (Kronek, SOOFT Italia) containing coleus for 30 days moderately decreases dry eye symptoms compared to placebo.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). Early research suggests 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.
  • A heart condition called idiopathic congestive 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 congestive cardiomyopathy.
  • Glaucoma. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination supplement (Kronek Sooft Italia SpA, Montegiorgio, Italy) containing forskolin may slightly decrease eye blood pressure in people with glaucoma. Other research shows that taking a different specific product (Gangliolife, SOOFT Italia) in addition to prescription drug therapy decreases eye blood pressure in people with glaucoma.
  • Obesity. Early research shows that taking a specific coleus supplement (Forslean; Sabina Corp., Piscataway, NJ) does not decrease weight, but modestly decreases body fat in overweight and obese men. However, other early research has found no benefit for weight or fat loss.
  • Allergies.
  • Blood clots.
  • Cancer.
  • Chest pain.
  • Insomnia.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Period pains.
  • Seizures.
  • Skin.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bladder infections.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of forskolin for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Allergies & Asthma

Improve treatments & prevent attacks.

Health Resources
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors