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Coleus forskohlii

Coleus forskohlii


No documentation.

Vernacular Name



Makandi grows to heights of one to two feet. Leaves are elliptical with green surrounding the center of bright purple. The intensity of color varies depending upon the amount of light. The plant produces a cluster of flowers, either blue or lavender in color. The quickly spreading root systems are brown, thick and fibrous.

Origin / Habitat

Makandi is a perennial of the Lamiaceae, or mint, family that is thought to have originated in the lower Himalayan mountains and is now cultivated in many areas of the world, primarily in South East Asia and India. The plant spreads easily and can thrive in a variety of conditions.

Chemical Constituents

Diterpenes: Forskolin and essential oils.

Plant Part Used

Root. [1]

Traditional Use

Makandi has been used in the Ayurvedic medical system for many centuries for a variety of medical disorders. Makandi has been used regularly in treatment of eye disorders, including glaucoma and elevated intraocular pressure. Additionally, Ayurvedic medicine dictates that Makandi is useful in treatment of various respiratory disorders, specifically in disorders involving excessive cough or difficulty breathing. [1] Makandi is also used as a general cardiotonic, benefiting the heart in numerous ways. [2] Makandi is also thought to be useful in treating skin disorders. Its rasa (taste) is considered Katu (pungent) and it pacifies all three doshas. The plant has a generally heating effect on the body. [1] 


Dried powdered root: Six to 12 grams per day prepared as directed. [1]



A diterpene isolated from Makandi exhibited antiproliferative activity in both breast and uterine cancer cells, according to a 2007 in vitro study. Some of the antiproliferative effect of the diterpene, 13-epi-sclareol, was comparable to that of Tamoxifen. [3] 

Makandi is reported to have two significant mechanisms of action. First, it is claimed to activate the enzyme, adenylate cyclase. [4] This action would have the effect of increasing cyclic adenosine monophosphate (c-AMP) within the cells. C-AMP is important in the activation of several biochemical pathways. C-AMP is formed when a specific neurotransmitter binds to the cell membrane and stimulates the formation of adenylate cyclase. Specific hormonal messengers bind to receptor sites to create the release of c-AMP. This is called transmembrane activation. Makandi reportedly creates c-AMP activation independent of receptor site specificity. [5] It may also stimulate other enzymatic activity independent of c-AMP activation, but this is not known at this time. The stimulation of c-AMP has an impact on body chemistry in several ways. It stimulates thyroid function, increases insulin secretion, inhibits mast cell release of histamine, and increases the burning of fats as fuels. [6] 

Makandi is claimed to inhibit platelet activating factor (PAF) by possibly directly binding to PAF receptor sites. [7][8] PAF is a key factor in allergic and inflammatory pathways. By inhibiting it, neutrophil activation may be inhibited, vascular permeability reduced, smooth muscle contraction decreased, and coronary blood flow increased. [9] It should be noted that the antiplatelet activity of forskolin has been reported to be potentiated by the concurrent administration of dipyridamole. [10] 

Makandi may be beneficial in psoriasis and other skin disorders by increasing c-AMP in epidermal cells, increasing the rate of cell maturation and turnover.   Also of interest, is the topical use of forskolin in glaucoma (0.5mg), which was reported to lower intraocular pressure in laboratory animals and humans by stimulating adenylate cyclase. [11] 


Makandi extract, has been examined in a small human study to determine its effects on congestive cardiovascular myopathy. Based on the receptor independent mechanism of action, researchers concluded that this herb may be of use in treating severe heart failure. [12]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on human data, Makandi may aggravate hypotension, peptic ulcer disease or any bleeding disorder. [14] It should be used with caution in individuals with these conditions. 

Avoid using this herb with any prescription medications. 

Based on pharmacology, this herb should not be used by individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease or strokes. [12] 

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

A compound similar to forskolin was found to be located in renal cysts in patients suffering from autosomal dominant PKD. It is indicated that compound, adenosine camp, may be partially responsible for the growth of renal cysts. It has been recommended that patients suffering from autosomal dominant PKD should avoid formulations containing Makandi. [13]


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used by children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

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  1) Medicinal Herbs


  1. Pole, S. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. London, UK; Churchill-Livingstone Press: 2006.
  2. Ding X, Staudinger JL. Induction of drug metabolism by forskolin: the role of the pregnane X receptor and the protein kinase a signal transduction pathway. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Feb 2005;312(2):849-856.
  3. Sashidhara KV, Rosaiah JN, Kumar A, Bid HK, Konwar R, Chattopadhyay N. Cell growth inhibitory action of an unusual labdane diterpene, 13-epi-sclareol in breast and uterine cancers in vitro. Phytother Res. Nov2007;21(11):1105-1108.
  4. Seamon KB, et al. Forskolin: Its Biological and Chemical Properties. In: Advances in Cyclic Nucleotide and Protein Phosphorylation Research. Vol. 20. New York: Raven Press;1986:1-150.
  5. Doi K, et al. The Effect of Adenylate Cyclase Stimulation on Endocochlear Potential in the Guinea Pig. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1990;247(1):16-19.
  6. Kreutner RW. Bronchodilator and Antiallergy Activity of Forskolin. European Journal of Pharmacology. 1985;111:1-8.
  7. Christenson JT, et al. The Effect of Forskolin on Blood Flow, Platelet Metabolism, Aggregation and ATP Release. Vasa. 1995;24(1):56-61.
  8. Agarwal KC, et al. Significance of Plasma Adenosine in the Antiplatelet Activity of Forskolin: Potentiation by Dipyridamole and Dilazep. Thromb Haemost. 1989;61(1):106-110.
  9. Marone G, et al. Inhibition of IgE-mediated Release of Histamine and Peptide Leukotriene from Human Basophils and Mast Cells by Forskolin. Biochem Pharmacol. 1987;36(1):13-20.
  10. De Vries GW, et al. Effect of Forskolin on Beta-adrenergic Hyporesponsiveness in Skin. Skin Pharmacol. 1998;1(2):106-114.
  11. Caprioli J, et al. Adenylate Cyclase Stimulation and Intraocular Pressure Reduction by Forskolin Analogs. J Ocul Pharmacol. 1989;5(3):181-187.
  12. Baumann G, Felix S, Sattelberger U, Klein G.Cardiovascular effects of forskolin (HL 362) in patients with idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy--a comparative study with dobutamine and sodium nitroprusside. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. Jul1990;16(1):93-100.
  13. Putnam WC, Swenson SM, Reif GA, Wallace DP, Helmkamp GM Jr, Grantham JJ. Identification of a forskolin-like molecule in human renal cysts. J Am Soc Nephrol. Mar 2007;18(3):934-943.
  14. Lindner E, et al. Positive Inotropic and Blood Pressure Lowering Activity of a Diterpene Derivative Isolated from Coleus forskohli: Forskolin. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. 1978;28:284-289.

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