Seasoned cooks may be aware of Indian borage – commonly known as Plectranthus Barbatus – which is a common garden plant in most kitchens. Some cooks have even experimented with it producing delicacies such as oregano bhajjis! Apart from being used in cooking, it has many ayurvedic health benefits but more on that later. Let’s get the basics in place first.
Plectranthus Barbatus is a tropical perennial plant belonging to the Coleus species. Like many ayurvedic herbs, it has various names and forms such as Coleus Forskohlii, Indian Coleus (English name), Makandi (Sanskrit name), etc. In the pharmaceutical world, this plant’s active extract – Forskolin (named after Swedish Naturalist, Peter Forskal) – is primarily used for research in cell biology. Forskolin has also emerged as one of the most famous supplements for weight loss.
Plectranthus Barbatus is native to India, Thailand, and other parts of South-East Asia. Additionally, it belongs to the Lamiaceae or the lavender and mint family and comes with spiked flowers. Plus, it smells like camphor and has been an Ayurveda staple for over 3,000 years. Perhaps one of the most delightful qualities about it is that it is easy to care for. Makandi grows easily from cuttings and is drought-resistant. Its fleshy leaves allow water retention for longer periods of time, making it drought tolerant.
Plectranthus Barbatus: Holistic Uses
The tuberous roots of the plant – which contain Forskolin – are considered to be the most useful.
- In Maharashtra, the roots of the plant are pickled and consumed as it is known to strengthen the heart muscles.
- The Brazilians use the leaves for an effective hangover cure.
- In Kenya, the borage leaves are used as a fragrant alternative to toilet paper – locally known as Kikuyu toilet paper.
- In Ghana, it has been known to treat malaria.
Nutritional Information & Recommended Dosage:
For the tablet form, you can take 25 mg, once daily. But before you do, make sure to consult your doctor.
Plectranthus Barbatus: Comprehensive Health Benefits
In Ayurvedic traditional medicine, Makandi is used for supporting the healthy functioning heart and lungs, and for treating severe ailments such as hypertension, spasmodic pain, kidney stones, painful urination, convulsions, obesity, painful menstrual periods, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), advanced cancer, blood clots, sexual problems in men, and insomnia. Let’s look at its some other multi-purpose benefits:
It is known to raise thyroid levels in case of hypothyroidism, stimulate metabolism by increasing thyroid hormones and increase the secretion of insulin.
Forskolin can influence cancer cells (particularly colon cancer) and is considered to be a promising drug in cancer therapy.
Cold & Cough
Its aromatic leaves can be boiled into a decoction and consumed to cure cough and fever.
Urinary Tract Disorders
Forskolin, a herbal extract from Plectranthus Barbatus, can eject the E. coli microbes in the urinary tract and flush it out of the system with the urine. Plus, it can boost the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment of bladder infections in people suffering from recurring urinary tract infection.
Forskolin can help treat conditions related to diabetes and can improve cellular insulin response while suppressing inflammation.
It is a popular herb for angina and can help treat heart disorders such as high blood pressure etc.(should be taken in expert guidance)
Forskolin extract aids in the treatment of stomach ache, intestinal spasms, nausea, vomiting, gastric spasms etc. It works as a helpful purgative agent and can improve overall digestive health. Additionally, it is known to stimulate the immune system and protect the body from a host of health problems.
Its anti-histamine effect aids in treating respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Plus, it has the capacity to clean out blocked pathways from the body.
When taken orally, Forskolin can help treat allergies and various skin conditions such as eczema, ringworm, syphilis, and psoriasis. Additionally, it can also treat burns, wounds, and other skin conditions. When applied topically, the herbal extract extends a naturally tanned look and prevents exposure to harmful UV rays.
High blood pressure
Makandi can effectively reduce blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls and acts as a potent anti-hypertensive.
Both Coleus Forskohli extract and pure Forskolin supplement aid in weight loss by breaking down adipose tissue and preventing further production of fatty tissue. It may be interesting to note that this is the only plant-derived compound that stimulates cellular cyclic AMP and in turn, boosts metabolism and shows signs of improved insulin resistance.
Studies show that a topical application of Coleus to the eye effectively lowers intra-ocular pressure and helps treat glaucoma.
Coleus contains many polyphenols, tannins, flavonols, and other biologically active compounds that double up as powerful antioxidants and help protect the liver.
Side-Effects & Precautionary Measures
Generally, Plectranthus Barbatus is safe to use but in rare cases, it may have some side-effects, notably:
- When given intravenously (by IV): Coleus can cause flushing and low blood pressure.
- When inhaled: It can cause throat irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness.
- When applied as eye drops: It may cause slight stinging.
- Pregnant mothers should avoid consuming it as overdosage might slow or stop the growth of the fetus.
- Lactating mothers should avoid consuming it in any form.
- Coleus might increase the risk of bleeding in some people so people with bleeding disorders should avoid it.
- It can lower blood pressure and make heart conditions worse, so people with pre-existing heart conditions and blood pressure issues should consume only under expert guidance.
- It is known to increase bleeding during and after surgery, hence it is recommended you stop consuming it at least 2 weeks prior to your surgery.
Important: Please make sure to consult an ayurvedic practitioner before consuming it as a precautionary measure.
Some call it “lightning in a bottle” while some say it’s a “miracle flower.” Try it (under the professional guidance of course) and see for yourself.
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