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Guggul Introduction

Guggul (Commiphora mukul) is a botanical medicine with established historical roots in Ayurvedic medicine. Growing to heights of 6 1/2 feet, this thorny shrub has small oval leaves that are a bright, waxy green and have serrated edges. The plant produces reddish-brown flowers and fruit and can be found growing in its natural habitat throughout India and much of the Middle East. Commiphora mukul typically flourishes in dry desert environments. [1] The term Guggul, actually refers to the yellowish resin exuded from the stem of the Commiphor muku plant.

Guggul was used as a remedy in India by Ayurvedic herbalist. Conditions such as obesity, arthritis, rheumatism, and lipid disorders were all treated with this botanical. It also had some use in infectious conditions, including; abscesses, bronchitis, and lymphadenitis; as well as diabetes, gout, skin disorders, and menstrual disorders. Guggul was even used as a mouthwash or rinse for dental carries and spongy gums. Infections in the mouth and throat were also commonly treated with Guggul.

The main constituents of Guggul are the ketonic steroid compounds called guggulsterones. The most extensively researched of which are the guggulsterones E and Z. Other less important constituents include; esters, sterols, fatty acid alcohols, lignans, and diterpenes. Guggulsterones are said to be the main constituent responsible for the lipid lowering effects of Guggul. They are thought to increase the uptake of LDL in the bowel and to decrease the synthesis by the liver. There appears to be some interaction with thyroid hormone metabolism as well. [2]

Guggul is anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemic, and anti-oxidant. Today, guggul is most commonly used to lower cholesterol, decrease platelet aggregation, and to decree inflammation associated with arthritis.

Guggul Food Sources

Parts Used

Obtained from the bark and stem of the plant, gum resin is harvested for various medicinal application. It naturally seeps from the bark and will form yellow or brown “teardrops” on the stems of the plant. The crude form of the gum that is gathered from the tree is toxic. Crude gum resin must be processed into soluble and insoluble parts. The insoluble part is toxic, and the soluble fraction yields no toxicity. Once the soluble fraction is separated, it is considered safe for use. [3]

Guggul Uses

Guggul is an effective lipid-lowering agent. It has been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, while simultaneously raising HDL, or good cholesterol content. It may also lower the triglycerides and VLDL, which directly contributes to elevated cholesterol levels. [4]

  • Guggul is also a potent antioxidant, and it is able to protect the heart from damage caused by free radicals. It may also be able to help prevent the development of atherosclerosis, or the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis often develops after LDL, the bad cholesterol, is oxidized by free radicals. Guggul has been shown to prevent oxidation of LDLs, thus preventing the development of atherosclerosis.
  • Guggul is a great botanical for the heart and cardiovascular system as it prevents platelet aggregation. [5] The ability of Guggul to prevent the stickiness of platelets reduces the risk factors concerning the development of atherosclerosis; it is also helpful for individuals who are prone to developing blood clots.
  • Guggul is anti-inflammatory. It is indicated in conditions of acute and chronic inflammation, being particularly useful for osteoarthritis. Guggul can reduce the pain and stiffness associated with various forms of arthritis. It also improves joint function, a primary concern in those affected by arthritis. [6]
  • As an anti-inflammatory agent, Guggul has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen. It can be supplemented in cases where ibuprofen would likely be used, including but not limited to; muscle strains, sprains, and arthritis.
  • In one study, Guggul was found to be an effective treatment for patients with acne. It was more effective than the antibiotic tetracycline when given to individuals with oily skin.

Guggul Dosages

The standard dosage for Guggul is 500 milligrams, three time each day. This dose should be standardized to receive 25 - 50 mg of guggulsterones in each dose; most supplements will be standardized to 5 - 10% of guggulsterones. In every case, it is recommended that individuals read the label to insure that an adequate dose of guggulsterones are taken each day;as these compounds are the primary acting constituent responsible for it many therapeutic activities.

Guggul Toxicities and Contraindications

Side effects of the insoluble or toxic whole gum resin are diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and rash. There are no known side effects to the soluble or safe fraction of Guggul. [7]

Guggul is contraindicated in women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. [8] It is also contraindicated in people with inflammation of the liver, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and diarrhea. [9]

Guggul may interact with certain anti-coagulant medications because of its ability to decrease platelet aggregation. One should consult with their physician before beginning treatment with Guggul if they are taking any blood thinning medications such as aspirin, heparin, or warfarin as well.


1. Chevellier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 193.

2. Guggul. February 2005.

3. Chevellier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 193.

4. Urizar NZ, Moore DD. Guggulipid: a natural cholesterol-lowering agent. Annu Rev Nutr. 2003; 23:303-313.

5. Guggul. February 2005.

6. Singh BB et al. The effectiveness of Commiphora mukul for osteoarthritis of the knee: a pilot study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 May-Jun; 9(3): 74-79.

7. Guggul. February 2005.

8. Chevellier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 193.

9. Guggul. February 2005.