Coleus is also quite popular as an ornamental herb in many parts of the world, mostly due to its large and colorful leaves. Potted coleus plants are often displayed indoors or planted out in the gardens. The coleus plant is eaten as food in many Asian countries, for example, in India the coleus is cultivated in some regions and used in making pickles and eaten as a fresh salad vegetable. The species of the genus, namely the C. edulis and C. parvifloris also give off edible tubers which are eaten in some Asian countries. Leaves of the coleus have also been used as a mild hallucinogenic drug in some places. Coleus herbs are also extensively used in the laboratory tests on the ability of these plants to perceive stress, and the effects of excess fluoride on the growth of the plants has been researched in recent years. The use of the coleus in traditional Indian folk medicine has a long history. The herb has been used since ancient times to treat all kinds of disorders including digestive problems like abdominal bloating and flatulence, to alleviate all kinds of problems and discomfort in the abdominal area. This herb has also been used in the treatment of vaginal and urinary infections arising as a result of pathogenic infection. The primary chemical compound present in the extracts of the coleus plant is the diterpene compound forskolin - this compound is cardio-tonic and acts to inhibit platelet aggregation in the blood as well. The primary beneficial chemical found in coleus is the compound forskolin; this chemical is used in treating all kinds of respiratory and circulatory problems including bronchial asthma, heart failure and high blood pressure problems. The beneficial compounds present in the coleus are capable of reducing the elevated pressure in the eyeball, this rise in fluid pressure within the eye is one major symptom of the disorder known as glaucoma - which results in blindness if left untreated. Forskolin is naturally obtained from coleus plants; moreover, the coleus herb is the only known natural source for this compound. In some regions of India, the coleus is the traditional herbal remedy for treating a range of disorders affecting the digestive system. A remedy made from the coleus has been traditionally used to gain relief from excess abdominal gas, to subside bloating in the stomach and to quell abdominal discomfort or pain in these regions. The coleus is considered by most herbalists to be an effective and important tonic for the heart and circulatory system. An herbal remedy made from the coleus is employed in boosting impaired coronary blood flow as well as in treating congestive heart failure. In addition, the coleus boosts circulation of the blood to the brain and nervous system in general. The coleus possesses a potent anti-spasmodic effect that is considered very effective in the treatment of different kinds of respiratory disorders, such as chronic bronchitis and asthma - the remedy helps in alleviating the physical symptoms. Herbal combinations made from the coleus and other herbs like the hawthorn, may be very useful in lowering elevated blood pressure in the body - this judgment is based on the confirmed therapeutic effect of forskolin in laboratory studies.
The coleus plant is a native to India, and originally grew only there. These days, the coleus is used as an ornamental plant in many gardens and herbaria around the world. Coleus is also cultivated in other Asian countries with a tropical or sub-tropical climate as well as in some eastern African countries with a tropical climate. Coleus grows at an optimal rate in soils that have good drainage. Coleus can grow equally well in sites with direct exposure to sunlight as well as in partially shaded areas.
The compound forskolin is the primary active compound in the coleus; this compound was first isolated in the laboratory in the 1970s from coleus extracts. Forskolin has subsequently been found to possess some very vital therapeutic actions. This compound can lower elevated blood pressure, it works to relax the smooth muscles in the body, and the compound also stimulates the release of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Forskolin actively boosts the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach and intestine. One of the most important effects of this compound is its capacity to reduce the build up of fluid pressure in the eyeball during the disorder known as glaucoma. The activity of forskolin in isolation from other compounds has been the main focus of all the research conducted on the coleus plant. The study of the clinical properties of the various other chemical constituents and the study of the herb as a whole has not been done and will require further studies.