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.
Guggul is also known as guggal, gum guggal, gum guggulu, and gugulipid.
What is it used for?
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.
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.
None identified. Caution may be warranted in patients previously experiencing adverse effects to statins.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
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.