Coleus species have been used in the Asian traditional medicine to treat angina, asthma, bronchitis, epilepsy, insomnia, skin rashes, and a wide range of digestive problems. Since the 1970s, research was predominantly concentrated on forskolin, a root extract of Coleus forskohlii. Early study suggests that forskolin may have clinical use in treating heart, lung and eye conditions.
Although most studies have used the isolated forskolin extract, it is believed that the whole coleus plant may be more effective, due to the presence of multiple compounds that may act synergistically. Generally, coleus appears to be well tolerated with few adverse effects.
Coleon U-quinone coleus, coleonol, Coleus amboinicus Lour (CA), Coleus barbatus Benth, Coleus blumei, Coleus blumei Benth, Coleus carnosifolius, Coleus galeatus, Coleus kilimandschari, Coleus parvifolius, Coleus scutellarioides, coleus solenostemon rotundifolius, Coleus xanthanthus, colforsin, colforsin daropate hydrochloride, forscolin, forskoditerpenoside A, forskoditerpenoside B, forskolin, forskolin G, forskolin H, HL 362, FSK88, Labiatae (family), Lamiaceae (family), L-75-1362B, NKH477, Plectranthus barbatus, Plectranthus forskohlii, rosmarinic acid, rosmarinic acid, xanthanthusin E, xanthanthusins F-K.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
There is a lack of sufficient data for or against the use of coleus in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
Forskolin may improve heart function in patients with cardiomyopathy. However, additional study is needed to confirm these findings.
Some evidence suggests that coleus improves glaucoma. More studies are needed.
Anti-inflammatory action after cardiopulmonary bypass
There is a lack of sufficient data for or against the use of coleus in patients recovering after cardiopulmonary bypass, for its anti-inflammatory effects.
Breast milk stimulant
Coleus has been used as a breast milk stimulant for hundreds of years, however, the traditional use has not been well documented and scientific evidence is limited.
Breathing aid for intubation
Pretreatment with coleus before intubation may be beneficial, especially for middle-aged smokers. More research is needed.
Depression and schizophrenia
Limited evidence suggests that coleus may be useful in the management of depression or schizophrenia.
Forskolin may enhance smooth muscle relaxation. More study is needed to assess the use of coleus in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.