Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 301–312 | Cite as

Ethnopharmacological and phytomedical knowledge of Coleus forskohlii: An approach towards its safety and therapeutic value

  • H. N. Shivaprasad
  • Subrata Pandit
  • M. Bhanumathy
  • D. Manohar
  • Vishal Jain
  • Shariq Afsar Thandu
  • Xiao Su


Coleus forskohlii Briq. (Family: Lamiaceae) is a fleshy perennial aromatic herb with fibrous roots that grows under tropical to temperate areas in India, Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, East Africa and Brazil. The rootstock of the plant is used in Ayurveda and other systems of medicine for several ailments such as heart and lung conditions, asthma, digestive disorder, insomnia, muscle spasm, convulsion and skin diseases. Extensive literature survey was performed based on distribution, morphology, phytochemistry and pharmacological aspects of C. forskohlii through pubmed, scopus, SciFinder, google scholar, sciencedirect and ethnobotanical books. Phytopharmacological knowledge and cosmeceutical use of C. forskohlii and its bioactive constituents have been documented. Coleus roots are exclusive source of forskolin, commonly known as fat burning molecule. It’s unique property is activating of almost all hormone sensitive adenylate cyclase enzymes by cyclic 3′,5′-adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Other potent compounds are 9-deoxyforskolin (1), 1,9-dideoxyforskolin (2), forskolin I (7), forskolin J (8), forskolin L (9), isoforskolin (16), 1-acetylforskolin (17), forskoditerpenoside A (19), forskoditerpenoside B (20), coleol (21), coleosol (22), 3-hydroxyforskolin (25) etc. Besides well established food and traditional use, clinical evidence indicates its safety assessment and can be taken without any toxic effect. This review covers up to date ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and phytomedical information of C. forskohlii approaching towards its safety and therapeutic perspective.


Coleus forskohlii Ayurveda Phytoconstituents Forskolin Ethnopharmacology Safety 


Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. N. Shivaprasad
    • 1
  • Subrata Pandit
    • 1
  • M. Bhanumathy
    • 1
  • D. Manohar
    • 1
  • Vishal Jain
    • 1
  • Shariq Afsar Thandu
    • 1
  • Xiao Su
    • 2
  1. 1.Research and Development Centre, Olive Lifesciences Pvt. Ltd.TumkurIndia
  2. 2.College of Health and BiomedicineVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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