(Last Updated on : 05/03/2009)
Gugulipid, Gum guggulu
Parts used and where grown
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.
Historical or traditional use
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.
Guggul contains resin, volatile oils, and gum. The extract isolates ketonic steroid compounds known as guggul-sterones. These compounds have been shown to provide the cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering actions noted for Guggul. Guggul significantly lowers serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the "bad" cholesterols). At the same time, it raises levels of HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol). Guggul has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets - another effect that lowers the risk of coronary artery disease. One double-blind trial found guggul extract similar to the drug clofibrate for lowering cholesterol levels.
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.
People should use Guggul with caution with liver disease and in cases of inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea.