April 9, 2007 -- Forskolin, an herbal medicine made from the Asiatic coleus plant, may help treat urinary tract infection.
That's according to preliminary tests done in mice.
The researchers who conducted those tests included Duke University microbiologist Soman Abraham, PhD.
They note that forskolin has been used for centuries in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat various ailments, including painful urination.
The scientists tested forskolin in female mice with bladder infections caused by E. coli bacteria, which cause most urinary tract infections.
Twenty-four hours after the mice were infected with E. coli, the researchers injected forskolin directly into the mice's bladders or their belly.
For comparison, the scientists injected saltwater into the bladders of other female mice with E. coli bladder infections.
One day after treatment, the mice in the forskolin group had less E. coli bacteria in their bladders than the mice that got the saltwater shot.
The forskolin group also had lower levels of inflammatory chemicals in their urine, the study shows.
"This type of treatment strategy may prove beneficial for patients with recurrent urinary tract infections," Abraham says in a Duke University news release.
He notes that antibiotics get rid of most bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, but some bacteria may hide in the bladder's lining. Forskolin may force those hidden bacteria out of the bladder's lining, where they could be targeted by antibiotics.
"Ideally, use of this herb would expel the bacteria, where it would then be hit with antibiotics. With the reservoir of hiding bacteria cleared out, the infection should not occur," Abraham says.
The researchers didn't test forskolin on people.
The study appears online in Nature Medicine.