Learn More About Guggul
What is guggul?
The mukul myrrh (Commiphora mukul) tree is a small, thorny plant distributed throughout India. Guggul and gum guggulu are the names given to a yellowish resin produced by the stem of the plant. This resin has been used historically and is also the source of modern extracts of guggul.
Traditional use of guggul
The classical treatise on Ayurvedic medicine, Sushrita Samhita, describes the use of guggul for a wide variety of conditions, including rheumatism and obesity. One of its primary indications was a condition known as medoroga. This ancient diagnosis is similar to the modern description of atherosclerosis. Standardized guggul extracts are approved in India for lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
What does guggul do?
Guggul contains resin, volatile oils, and gum. The extract isolates ketonic steroid compounds known as guggulsterones. These compounds have been shown to provide the cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering actions noted for guggul.1 Guggul significantly lowers serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the “bad” cholesterols).2 At the same time, it raises levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). As antioxidants, guggulsterones keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, an action which protects against atherosclerosis.3 Guggul has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets—another effect that lowers the risk of coronary artery disease.4
One double-blind trial found guggul extract similar to the drug clofibrate for lowering cholesterol levels.5 Other clinical trials in India (using 1,500 mg of extract per day) have confirmed guggul extracts improve lipid levels in humans.6 A combination of guggul, phosphate salts, hydroxycitrate, and tyrosine coupled with exercise has been shown in a double-blind trial to improve mood with a slight tendency to improve weight loss in overweight adults.7 One small clinical trial found that guggul (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne.8 The amount of guggul extract taken in the trial was 500 mg twice per day.
How much is usually taken?
Daily recommendations for the purified guggul extract are typically based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract.9 A common intake of guggulsterones is 25 mg three times per day. Most extracts contain 2.5–5% guggulsterones and can be taken daily for 12 to 24 weeks for lowering high cholesterol and/or triglycerides.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Early studies with the crude oleoresin reported numerous side effects, including diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal pain, and skin rash. Modern extracts are more purified, and fewer side effects (e.g., mild abdominal discomfort) have been reported with long-term use. Rash was reported, however, as a fairly common side effect in one recent study.10 Guggul should be used with caution by people with liver disease and in cases of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diarrhea. A physician should be consulted before treating elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with guggul.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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