Latin name for the colorful plant Coleus is Coleus forskohlii, but it is also often called Plectranthus barbatus. The herb belongs to the Lamiaceae or Mint family, which is known to include about 150 species of very aromatic herbs, and Coleus is not an exception.
Plectranthus is a perennial herb about two feet tall. It has quite thick brown tuberous roots, erect and quite fragile stems, and beautiful colorful oval pointed leaves with the toothed margins. They are so beautiful and colorful, having all shades of green, yellow, red, and purple. The spikes of the plant’s flowers are situated on the upper parts of the stems. The small individual blossoms are usually purple, but may also be colored in the shades of blue.
Coleus is a plant native to India; however, these days it is grown all over the world not only for medicinal properties, but as a wonderful ornamental plant. Coleus comes from the tropical and subtropical regions; thus, it prefers warm conditions and good drainage. The plant can tolerate direct sun, but it grows better in the partial shade. At the same time, in the darker conditions Coleus may lose the bright color of its leaves.
The root and the leaves of the plant are used medicinally. Taproots are harvested in autumn, since it is believed that the largest amount of active ingredients of the plant is present in the roots at that time.
Coleus is available in the capsules and fluid extracts. The dried root of the herb may also be found for purchase.
Volatile oils, alkaloids, terpenes, alkaloids are those elements, which form the chemical composition of Coleus extracts. Some scholars suggest all those constituents are important for the initiation of the medicinal powers of the herb. However, many other scientists note that definitely the most beneficial, important, valuable, and useful component is forskolin, isolated in 1974 and widely researched since that time.
Forskolin is stated to set going a number of processes in the human body, which will favorably reflect on the health of a person. The most beneficial and best described by the scientists action of forskolin is activating the enzyme adenylate cyclase, which plays an important role in many body processes. Benefits achieved include increased activity of the thyroid gland, which starts to produce larger amounts of hormones; improved metabolism and burning of fats; blood vessels dilation and lowering blood pressure; lowering intraocular pressure; inhibiting allergic reactions; finally, improving pumping ability of the heart and blood flow to the brain.
Forskolin has antihistamine properties, due to which bronchodilation in patients with asthma is achieved. Its action in the digestive tract is to stimulate the production of gastric juices and improve digestion. Forskolin is believed to affect insulin production, increasing its amount in the body. The given element is also said to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Coleus is an important herb in Aurveda medicine; thus it has been used by people in India for centuries. Historically, the plant was taken to treat gastrointestinal problems as abdominal pain, flatulence, and bloating; urinary tract infections; cardiovascular conditions, as hypertension and congestive heart failure; sleep disturbances and insomnia; and convulsions.
Modern uses of Coleus remedies include allergies, asthma, obesity, glaucoma, and skin disorders as psoriasis and eczema. The herb is sometimes used as an additional means to fight cancer.
In view of the Coleus properties, its use should be avoided along with anticoagulant and antihypertensive medications. Patients with ulcers, gastritis, and acid reflux disease should take Coleus remedies with caution. The use in pregnant and breastfeeding women was not scientifically estimated, and thus should be avoided. A large number of sources note that Coleus should be further researched in order to better understand its benefits and become aware of the plant’s risks.
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