The Benefits of Guggul

powdered guggul in a small bowl
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A yellowish resin secreted by the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul), guggul has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India). Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine often blend guggul extract with other natural substances to heal health problems such as arthritis, hemorrhoids, and urinary tract infections. Guggul is also touted as a remedy for acne, as well as a weight-loss stimulant.

Health Benefits

So far, scientific support for the benefits of guggul is lacking.

1) High Cholesterol

Although guggul is widely used in India to combat high cholesterol, research on the extract's cholesterol-lowering effects has yielded mixed results. A 2009 study of 43 adults with moderately high cholesterol, for instance, found that those who took 2,160 mg of guggul in capsule form daily had a greater drop in total cholesterol levels than those who took a placebo pill. However, the study members who used guggul showed no significant reduction in their levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Another study, published in 2003, assigned 103 adults with high cholesterol to take 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg of guggul daily for eight weeks and found that the extract actually raised levels of LDL cholesterol.

2) Tumors

Preliminary research suggests that guggul extract may help fight tumors. One 2007 study on human cells found that guggulsterone (a compound found in guggul) induced the death of prostate cancer cells, while a 2008 report revealed that guggulsterone thwarted the growth of skin tumors in mice.

3) Osteoarthritis

Other research shows that guggul extract may help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Learn about natural remedies for osteoarthritis.


Guggul extract may trigger side effects like headache, nausea, and skin irritation (usually in the form of a rash) in some individuals. Since guggul has also been found to stimulate the thyroid, anyone with a thyroid condition should consult a physician before using guggul extract.

In a 2004 study, scientists discovered that guggulsterone may inhibit the action of drugs that are metabolized by the body's CYP3A enzymes. These drugs include Lipitor, cyclosporine, and quinidine.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications have not been established. If you're considering the use of guggul, talk with your primary care provider first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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Article Sources
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