Forskolin

Scientific names: Plectranthus barbatus

Common names: Forskolin is also known as pashanabhedi, Indian coleus, makandi, HL-362, NKH477, and mao hou qiao rui hua.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Forskolin?

C. barbatus is a perennial herb in a large genus of mints. The plant is native to subtropical and tropical regions of India and east Africa.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

This species and other related species were used in many traditional medical systems. Traditional medical uses include the treatment of digestive disorders (stomachache, gastric and intestinal spasm, nausea, as a purgative), skin (burns, wounds, insect bites, allergies), infections (eg, syphilis, ringworm), and other conditions, including neck stiffness, and rheumatism, and to induce menstruation and as an oral contraceptive. Forskolin has also been used to treat heart, blood, and circulation conditions, and cancers. In the 1970s, the plant's cardiovascular activity was investigated.

General uses

Forskolin has multiple sites of action and should be used with caution. Forskolin derivatives have been developed for use in heart/blood vessel conditions. Quality clinical trials are lacking to support claims made of the weight loss properties of forskolin, and clinical studies conducted with oral and inhaled forskolin in patients with asthma are limited.

What is the recommended dosage?

Asthma: Oral forskolin has been studied using 10 mg daily over 2 to 6 months. Obesity: 250 mg of a 10% forskolin extract twice daily for 12 weeks has been studied.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Case reports are lacking.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. P. barbatus has been traditionally used to induce menstruation and as an oral contraceptive.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Clinical trial data are generally lacking. Adverse events reported with the use of colforsin (a forskolin derivative) include rapid or irregular heart rate. Forskolin should be avoided in patients with polycystic kidney disease.

Toxicities

Information is limited. Embryo-related toxicity has been reported.

References

  1. Forskolin. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; August 2011.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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