Guggul

Scientific names: Commiphora mukul

Common names: Guggul is also known as guggal, gum guggal, gum guggulu, and gugulipid.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Guggul?

The guggul plant is widely distributed throughout India and adjacent dry regions. The tree is a small shrub with thorny branches. The gum, called “guggul” or “gum guggulu,” is tapped from the stem of the plant, and the fragrant yellow latex solidifies as it oozes out. Excessive production of the gum eventually kills the plant.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The plant has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries in the treatment of a variety of disorders, most notably arthritis, and as a weight-reducing agent in obesity. Other traditional uses have included treatment of liver problems, tumors, ulcers and sores, urinary complaints, intestinal worms, swelling, and seizures, and as a heart tonic. In 1986, guggal was approved for marketing in India as a cholesterol-lowering agent. A commercial product, Guggulow, claiming cholesterol-lowering properties, is widely available on the Internet.

General uses

Guggul has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic medical system for centuries and has been studied extensively in India. Commercial products are promoted for lowering cholesterol; however, clinical studies do not support this claim. Anti-inflammatory and heart/blood vessel effects are being evaluated, as well as use in cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

What is the recommended dosage?

Clinical trials are lacking to provide dosage guidelines; however, in a US clinical trial of its ability to lower cholesterol, 75 to 150 mg of guggulsterones were given daily. In a study evaluating the anti-inflammatory effect of guggul, 500 mg of gum guggul were taken 3 times per day.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

None identified. Caution may be warranted in patients previously experiencing adverse effects to statins.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Although generally accepted as relatively safe, case reports of adverse events exist. Moderate to severe generalized short-term skin reactions to oral guggul have been reported, and caution may be warranted. A case report exists of muscle deterioration possibly caused by guggul consumption.

Toxicities

There is little or no information on toxicity with the use of guggul.

References

  1. Guggul. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; December 2011.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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