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Article: Coleus: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, & Dosage

best Coleus Forskohlii supplement

Coleus: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, & Dosage

Coleus Forskohlii Summary

  • The plant contains the compound forskolin
  • Benefits include enhanced lipolysis and metabolic function, oxygen, and blood delivery increased testosterone production, and reduced muscle loss.
  • Coleus standardized to deliver 25mg forskolin per serving, twice daily is recommended
  • Generally safe with GI effects most common complaint
  • Coleus can be found in BrickHouse Dawn to Dusk

If you ask the average athlete what coleus is, most would scratch their heads and shrug in cluelessness. However, ask about forskolin and you’re likely to get a room filled with volunteers raising their hands to lecture about its merits.

But what exactly is the difference? Let’s check out all we know about this plant.

What Is Coleus?

what is coleus

To be quite precise, Coleus Forskohlii is the name of a plant that grows abundantly throughout the southern areas of India, Thailand, and Burma. It belongs to the mint family and has been used for centuries as part of ancient ayurvedic and oriental medicine.

Forskolin, which is what the Coleus Forskohlii plant is best known for, is merely one compound it contains but to which is attributed the multitude of benefits it is sought after for.

Today, most people will not utilize the plant as a whole to experience its benefits but opt for forskolin supplements as a “shortcut” instead.

Benefits of coleus

There are a surprisingly large number of benefits that coleus boasts, even though many of these are attributed to the forskolin component itself. The most promising ones include:

May Assist With Asthma Management

It is estimated that in excess of 7% of all Americans have been diagnosed with asthma- a figure representing over 25 million people. And yet, even though it is that prevalent, for the most part, it is severely underestimated.

Asthma is a chronic disease that often contributes to other causes of morbidity; such as the inability to exercise, for example. You can see how this leads to a self-sustaining cycle of ill health, as the very things that were supposed to improve health are inaccessible.

However, all hope is not lost, as Coleus Forskohlii can lend itself to asthma management. Apart from the recommended treatment from your primary care physician, supplemental coleus can prove to be a useful adjuvant or even a total substitute in some cases.

A study done in 2006 and published in the Journal of International Medical Research revealed that over the course of 6 months, a forskolin supplement performed even better than the prescription medication sodium cromoglycate[i].

Another also compared a twice-daily dosage regimen of 10mg as better than the control inhaler beclomethasone[ii], which is a corticosteroid and one of the most popular asthma medications.

Much of its beneficial effects on asthma are related to its cAMP stimulating properties, which promote bronchodilation and also reduce inflammation in the airways. cAMP is a secondary messenger molecule with a diverse range of functions in human physiology.

The exciting part? This can even help non-asthma patients. Many performance-enhancing drugs actually exploit the potential of agents known as beta-agonists which act on the pulmonary system to improve gaseous exchange.

Better oxygenation often equates to improved performance and a competitive advantage in your sports discipline.

May Improve Blood Flow

coleus improves blood flow

Continuing along the same vein (pun intended) as our previously discussed benefit of coleus is improved blood flow. To expand a little on this, action at the beta receptor is once again at play.

Beta receptors are found in diverse locations throughout the body, including smooth muscle in the lungs and blood vessels.

Beta receptor agonists (which coleus belongs to) initiate vasodilation via the same mechanism of cAMP synthesis and release. This is the way many nitric oxide boosting supplements work as well.

To date, only one small-scale study[iii] involving 31 men has been conducted showing its beneficial effect on erectile dysfunction, but other animal studies also point in the direction that it may have blood flow enhancing properties.

May Enhance Thyroid Hormone Activity

The thyroid gland plays critical roles throughout our life, regulating growth and development during childhood, and supporting a healthy metabolism throughout life.

It may be supporting to discover that approximately 10% of adult women suffer from an underactive thyroid, a condition which can have negative implications of weight retention and low energy. Men are also affected but to a lesser degree.

While the majority of traditional endocrinologists will prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone to address an underlying problem, Coleus Forskohlii can offer natural support to optimize the function of this gland.

Forskolin supplementation may increase the production of T3 and T4[iv] by itself exerting activity that is comparable to the thyroid-stimulating hormone. It also lends itself to enhancing the conversion of T4 to the active form of the hormone which is T3.

The end result? An increase in metabolic rate and body temperature. Thermogenesis ensues and enhanced weight loss may be experienced.

Coleus May Increase Fat Utilization

coleus for fat loss

Who doesn’t want to utilize more fat in their day-to-day life?  Turns out, forskolin extract can help you get rid of stubborn fat by torching it in a pinch. How does it do this? You can thank the enzyme adenylate cyclase[v] which is responsible for converting ATP into cAMP.

cAMP mediates lipolysis and supports increased fat oxidation. This, combined with its ability to elevate metabolic rate makes forskolin an absolute beast for losing weight, without the need for stimulants.

It can, however, still be stacked with stimulants for greater synergy.

Reduces Muscle Loss

Muscle loss is the enemy of great physiques everywhere; the body simply does not want excess muscle. While fat loss is good, muscle is usually lost as a casualty of war. Forskolin extract can minimize this loss, to effect body recomposition.

Under intense training regimens this muscle loss is accelerated; so, it may be a good idea to supplement with forskolin when preparing for competitions.

May Support Lean Weight Gain

Lean weight does not refer to muscle alone, but rather an increase in bone mass as well. Although this measurement may be minuscule, it serves an important purpose as the absence of a corresponding increase bone density would lead to a greater likelihood of fractures occurring.

But back to the juicy topic of muscle accrual-you can think of coleus as a potent testosterone booster[vi] and anabolic agent. Increased testosterone levels also benefit many other aspects of male sexual health, making forskolin a nifty male enhancement candidate as well.

Recommended Dose Of Coleus

The exact amount of coleus you need to consume in supplemental form will vary depending on the specific standardized strength of forskolin. Active forskolin amount in the vicinity of 25mg taken twice daily before meals is recommended.

Precautions and Interactions Of Coleus

Owing to the fact that coleus can affect multiple organ systems, it is necessary to discuss any current medication you may be using with your doctor or pharmacist. Possible interactions exist with thyroid hormone medication, or erectile dysfunction meds to name a few.

It is potentially unsafe for use during pregnancy as it may retard fetal development. As such, it should be avoided.

Side Effects Of Coleus

The most common complaint of coleus/forskolin usage is gastrointestinal in nature, usually relating to diarrhea. This is attributed to the sti9mulating properties it has on the intestines, quickening transit of food and waste.

Coleus Benefits Athletes

coleus benefits for athletes

Coleus/forskolin exerts several beneficial effects that can make you a better athlete. For instance, its vaso and bronchodilatory traits means better oxygen delivery and blood flow for an effective one-two punch.

More effective fatty acid lipolysis means more readily available subunits for conversion into ATP. The testosterone boosting and anti-catabolic properties can support faster recovery following grueling exercise and reduce the chance of injury.


[i] González-Sánchez R, Trujillo X, Trujillo-Hernández B, Vásquez C, Huerta M, Elizalde A. Forskolin versus sodium cromoglycate for prevention of asthma attacks: a single-blinded clinical trial. J Int Med Res. 2006;34(2):200-207. doi:10.1177/147323000603400210

[ii] Huerta M, Urzúa Z, Trujillo X, González-Sánchez R, Trujillo-Hernández B. Forskolin compared with beclomethasone for prevention of asthma attacks: a single-blind clinical trial. J Int Med Res. 2010;38(2):661-668. doi:10.1177/147323001003800229

[iii] Mulhall JP, Daller M, Traish AM, et al. Intracavernosal forskolin: role in management of vasculogenic impotence resistant to standard 3-agent pharmacotherapy. J Urol. 1997;158(5):1752-1759. doi:10.1016/s0022-5347(01)64118-1

[iv] Laurberg P. Forskolin stimulation of thyroid secretion of T4 and T3. FEBS Lett. 1984;170(2):273-276. doi:10.1016/0014-5793(84)81327-7

[v] Daly JW. Forskolin, adenylate cyclase, and cell physiology: an overview. Adv Cyclic Nucleotide Protein Phosphorylation Res. 1984;17:81-89.

[vi] Godard MP, Johnson BA, Richmond SR. Body composition and hormonal adaptations associated with forskolin consumption in overweight and obese men. Obes Res. 2005;13(8):1335-1343. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.162

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