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Coleus – (Coleus forskohlii, Plectranthus forskohlii, Plectranthus barbatus)


The coleus is native to India. Today, many colorful varieties have been developed and you can find them in garden centers around the world as a decorative plant. The plant likes soil with good drainage and they grow very well in full sun or in part-shade. It grows to a height of about two feet and the roots are tuber-like. Belonging to the mint family of herbs, has a scent resembling camphor and is a much underrated herbal remedy.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Coleus was used traditionally as a digestive aid to treat bloating and flatulence. It contains a volatile oil called forskolin, which dilates the blood vessels. Studies are showing that this herb may reduce high blood pressure in cardiomyopathy patients. It is also used for angina and congestive heart failure. When forskolin is inhaled, it has been found to lower lung spasms in asthma sufferers. It is also used for bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.

This herb has also been used to treat urinary and vaginal infections that are the result of pathogenic infections. The plant may be useful in treating glaucoma due to its ability to lower the blood pressure in the eye. It can be used in weight loss because it can help break down stored fat and inhibit the synthesis of adipose tissue. It affects the thyroid by causing it to increase hormone production.

Externally – It has been used to treat eczema, psoriasis and other skin problems.

Other Uses – Coleus plants are used decoratively as garden plants in many parts of the world. In Asia, the leaves are also eaten as a salad vegetable or pickled. Some are even used in laboratories where tests on the plant's ability to perceive stress or the effects of too much fluoride on plant growth have been performed.

Herbs to Combine/Supplement

Coleus may be combined with hawthorne to treat high blood pressure.

Parts Used

Roots, leaves – Both the root and leaf are used medicinally.


Do not take coleus if you have low blood pressure or peptic ulcers. It is not known if this herb will interact with hypotensive or platelet drugs, so use caution if you are taking these medications.

Preparation and Dosage

Standardized coleus herbal remedy extracts are available commercially, although most tests have been done with injected forms of forskolin. Follow the directions on the label or the instructions given to you by your professional herbalist. Some doctors recommend a dose of 50 to 100 mg of extract taken 2 or 3 times per day, but this dosage has not been confirmed through clinical research.

Coleus Herbal Remedies Top