Coleus forskolhii and Forslean®: Medicinal Plant Spotlight

Posted Ramona Richard, MS, NC Blog

History and Origins of Coleus forskolhii

Coleus forskolhii has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years, and forskolin was discovered as the medicinally active component of Coleus forskolhii in 1974.[1] Coleus forskolhii is native to parts of India, Nepal, Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka.[2] Studies have found that harvesting the plant from the wild yields variable concentrations of forskolin, as growing conditions can alter secondary metabolite production.

Forksolin, the active component of Coleus forskolhii

ForsLean® is the trademarked active component (forskolin) of the medicinal plant Coleus forskolhii. It has been cultivated and standardized by the company, Sabinsa, since 1998.[3] Thus, Sabinsa grows Coleus forskolhii under controlled growth conditions to standardize forskolin concentrations.[4] Supplementation with forskolin is thought to improve health outcomes and potentially address heart disease, insomnia, asthma, digestive disorders, parasites, epilepsy, obesity, glaucoma, skin conditions, and mental illnesses.[5]

Forslean® has been shown to increase cAMP levels in the brain.  So, what is cAMP and why is it important?

Forskolin produces desired health outcomes by increasing the activity of an enzyme called adenylate cyclase.[6] Adenylate cyclase is involved in the production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). ForsLean® is the only supplement known to increase cAMP levels in the brain. cAMP was discovered in 1956 as an important component of many hormone and neurotransmitter pathways.[7] Several diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, asthma, obesity, and hypertension, are associated with decreased cAMP levels and activity.[8] Increased cAMP levels have been shown to lower blood pressure, inhibit histamine release, and increase thyroid hormone production.[9] Decreased thyroid function is associated with weight gain, and the most common use of ForsLean® is to promote weight loss, potentially by upregulating the thyroid gland.[10] Some studies have found that forskolin can also enhance the activity of certain antibiotics, reduce lung tumor growth, and inhibit colon cancer cell growth.[11] Due to its ability to lower blood pressure and increase thyroid activity, it should be used with caution in patients with hypotension or hyperthyroidism.

What does Forslean® do?

Forskolin has also been shown to combat mental illness and promote brain health. ForsLean® is fat-soluble and can quickly enter the brain upon digestion.[12] Its antidepressant and antianxiety properties may be due to its effect on thyroid hormones. Unlike many other mood-altering medications and supplements, ForsLean® has no known adverse side effects.[13] Forskolin has been shown to inhibit the enzyme phosphodiesterase, which is associated with improvements in depression.[14] This inhibition may be another mechanism by which forskolin improves mental health. Many mental illnesses, disease pathologies, and acute symptoms are associated with defects in nerve cells. ForsLean® aids in producing proteins necessary for nerve synapse health, long-term neuronal regeneration, and development of memories.[15]

Coleus forskolhii and other ingredients in Sanesco’s SomniTR™ formulation

Sanesco uses ForsLean® in its Targeted Nutritional Therapy™ (TNT) formula, SomniTR™. This product blend is designed to promote sleep quality and quantity. ForsLean® promotes sleep by increasing cAMP, which increases acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase can increase the amount of free choline in the brain and influences feelings of sleepiness.[16] ForsLean® may also promote rest by helping to restore the body’s circadian rhythm. Some other important components of SomniTR™ include melatonin (the body’s sleep hormone), pantothenic acid (necessary for melatonin synthesis), and Lactium® (a compound derived from breast milk which increases the activity of the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA). SomniTR™ is a safe and effective way to combat insomnia and poor sleep. ForsLean® alone is a safe supplement to promote a wide variety of desirable health outcomes. For more information about SomniTR’s other unique ingredient, Lactium®, see

[1] Kavitha, C., Rajamani, K., & Vadivel, E. (2010). Coleus forskohlii A comprehensive review on morphology, phytochemistry and pharmacological aspects. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 4(4), 278-285.

[2] Kavitha, Ibid.

[3] Patel, M. B. (2010). Forskolin: A successful therapeutic phytomolecule. East and Central African Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 13(1).

[4] Tomen, D. (2016, September 01). Forskolin. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from

[5] Kavitha, op. cit.

[6] Sabinsa Corp. (2001, April). ForsLean. Retrieved August 10, 2017, from

[7] Tomen, op. cit.

[8] Patel, op. cit.

[9] Kavitha, op. cit.

[10] Kavitha, Ibid.

[11] Patel, op. cit.

[12] Tomen, op. cit.

[13] Tomen, Ibid.

[14] Patel, op. cit.

[15] Tomen, op. cit.

[16] Tomen, Ibid.

Clinical Contributor

Sophie Thompson

Sophie Thompson

Clinical Support Intern at Sanesco Health
Sophie recently obtained her degree in Biology from UNCA in Asheville. Born and raised in Asheville, her hobbies include painting, writing and spending quality time with her dog and her family.
Sophie Thompson

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    Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.