Coleus forskohlii is a perennial member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family. It has a 3,000-year history of medicinal use in Hindu and Ayurvedic traditional medicine, used to treat medical ailments from hypertension, congestive heart failure and respiratory disorders to insomnia, asthma and convulsions. There are clinical reports to support the health benefits of forskolin, the main active ingredient found in coleus forskohlii roots.
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Coleus forskohlii is native to the lower elevations of India, although it is also found in subtropical places like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Swedish naturalist Peter Forskal first discovered the plant, hence the name. The ancient Sanskrit texts referred to it as "Makandi," and it was used to promote heart and lung health.
The plant can grow to a height of 1 to 2 feet. It has teardrop-shaped leaves and produces clusters of pale blue or purple flowers. However, it is the roots that hold the most concentration of forskolin. Harvesting the roots in the fall is ideal, as the concentration of forskolin is most intense.
According to the House of Nutrition, forskolin activates the cell-regulating compound called cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which is responsible for the proper functioning of a number of hormonal processes in the body. To further explain, cAMP promotes healthy cells and improves blood vessel dilation, inhibits allergic reactions, suppresses cancerous growth and exerts anti-inflammatory properties.
PubMed has done many studies on the activities of forskolin, and it confirms the ability of cAMP to promote healthy cells. An article published in the January 2000 edition of "Experimental Physiology" revealed that forskolin has bimodal effects on bone growth. When taken in low doses, forskolin can generate bone growth, and when taken in high doses, it has an inhibitive effect.
Practitioners of alternative medicine use coleus forskohlii for many medical conditions. According to the Herbal Resource, coleus forskohlii extract can be used to lower blood pressure, reduce eye pressure associated with glaucoma, act as an antihistamine to relieve asthma, treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, induce weight loss and treat cardiovascular diseases. Athletes often use coleus forskohlii supplements to increase energy and recover faster from a workout.
You can take coleus forskohlii in a number of ways: tea, extracts, fluid extracts or as a supplement in the form of capsules or pill. However, it is best to consult a certified physician before taking any coleus forskohlii supplements.
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