Guggulu is often administered as “yog” in ayurveda, combined with other herbal remedies and castor oil or clarified butter (ghee). It may also be cooked with water and other herbs. Popular formulations with guggulu include yograj guggulavati, panchamrith loha guggulu, triphala guggulu, sinha guggulavati, and kaishore guggulavayi.
The pale brown gum resin of the mukul myrrh tree may not look like much but it sure has stood the test of time as a potent herbal remedy. Guggulu, guggul, or Commiphora mukul is an ancient antidote that finds application in a host of modern-day problems from obesity to heart disease. Whether you encounter it in formulations like triphala guggulu, kanchanar guggulu, punarnavadi guggulu, or simply on its own, this is one herbal remedy that’s likely to have many takers today. Here are the health benefits of guggulu you should make the most of!
1. Fights Cholesterol Disorders And Protects The Heart
The cholesterol-lowering benefits of guggulu are well known in ayurveda and established in
studies, making it a popular remedy for hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol. The gum extract acts by inhibiting the body’s synthesis of cholesterol and promoting its degradation and excretion from the body. High cholesterol is linked to an elevated risk of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and even strokes and, by fighting this, guggulu helps keep up your heart health. Its cardioprotective effect also banks on several other mechanisms:
If you have ischemic heart disease, guggulu may be able to help. In one study, taking pushkar guggul, a formulation that combined guggulu with another ayurvedic remedy pushkarmool (Inula racemosa), helped reduce chest pain and restored ECG patterns back to normal in 200 patients with IHD.
- Lowers inflammation: In one study, subjects with hypercholesterolemia who took high doses of guggulu extracts (2000 mg daily) saw a decline in their levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive proteins. This indicator of inflammation is linked
significantly to atherosclerosis and is believed to play a major role in every stage of plaque build-up.
- Reduces cell damage: In another study, when patients with hypercholesterolemia took 50 mg of guggulu extract twice a day, lipid peroxidation went down by 33%. This process, which involves the degradation of fat layers in cell membranes by free radicals, is again a marker of cardiovascular risk. These benefits of guggulu are attributed to its antioxidant properties, which help reduce oxidative stress or damage to cells.
- Balances lipid levels: Animal studies also show that guggulu can significantly reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol as well as triglycerides while increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Guggulu may, therefore, be able to help optimize your cholesterol ratio.
- Prevents blood clots: Guggulu’s cardioprotective effects also come from its ability to counter platelet aggregation and stop blood clots from forming. In one study, subjects who took guggulu saw an increase in fibrinolytic activity and a decrease in platelet adhesion – together these factors play a role in preventing the formation of blood clots. Interestingly, the benefits were seen for both healthy subjects as well as those with coronary heart disease.
2. Fights Inflammatory Diseases And Eases Symptoms
Guggulu has potent anti-inflammatory effects thanks to its component guggulsterone. In fact, guggulu’s anti-inflammatory potential has been found to be comparable to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like phenylbutazone and ibuprofen. In vitro studies show that it can suppress protein complexes called NF-kappaB that are involved in inflammatory responses of our body. Chronic activation of these has been linked to many inflammatory diseases. This can translate to many benefits.
Triphala guggulu is a guggulu-based formulation that can inhibit major enzymes responsible for cartilage degradation, which is a hallmark of arthritis.
- If you have painful or inflamed joints, muscles, or bones, guggulu may help ease symptoms. People with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis may benefit from this herbal remedy. In one study, people with osteoarthritis saw an improvement in pain, mobility, stiffness, and
function after taking 500 mg of guggulu extracts for a month. Animal studies also show that guggulu reduces the thickness of joint swelling (edema), which in turn could mean less discomfort and pain.
- Animal studies also show that guggulu has potential as a treatment option for other inflammatory conditions like uveitis (inflammation of the uvea of the eye) and acute pancreatitis.
Guggulu is also
used as an adjuvant therapy in ayurveda to treat sinus problems and respiratory illnesses ranging from bronchitis and pharyngitis to coughs, cold, and asthma.
- Guggulu has therapeutic and protective effects on any kind of colon inflammation. Which is why it may be an option worth considering if you have inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. In one study, animal test subjects saw a significant decline in disease severity after being treated with guggulsterones.
3. Detoxifies Your Body And Protects The Liver And Kidneys
Guggulu is often suggested as a remedial medicine to detox and revive the body if it has just recovered from a major illness or undergone prolonged antibiotic treatment. It can also help people recovering from alcohol or drug addiction.
One of guggulu’s other most important applications could be its hepatoprotective effect, that is its potential to protect your liver against damage. Ayurveda recommends taking it to treat liver disorders or liver dysfunction. It reduces levels of free fatty acids and improves breakdown of fats (lipolytic activity) in the liver. Guggulsterone, the major active component in guggulu, boosts the excretion of cholesterol as well as bile acids, giving your system a detox. Animal studies also show that guggulu has the potential to counter kidney damage from systemic infections or drugs by inhibiting inflammatory responses.
4. Boosts Immune Function And Fights Bacterial Infections
Guggulu can also help treat urinary disorders. In one study, men with an enlarged prostate who experienced painful or difficult urination (dysuria), urinary retention, and excessive urination saw a reduction in their symptoms after taking guggulu.
Antioxidant-rich guggulu is also immunomodulating, helping calibrate the immune system’s responses so it functions at its optimum. This can also improve your body’s defense against pathogens. Guggulu, in fact, is said to help boost your white blood cell count, the primary defense against infections. Researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of the gum resin extracts against a range of bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that cause staph infections and Escherichia coli bacteria which cause gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea as well as fever, nausea, and vomiting. Guggulu is also anti-helminthic, helping you fight off infection by intestinal worms.
5. Counters Skin Problems Like Wrinkles And Acne
If you’re worried about developing wrinkles due to skin aging and exposure to pollution or radiation from sunlight, the use of guggulu could stop the problem in its tracks or slow down the onset. Lab studies show that guggulu extracts can not only boost the production of type I collagen which strengthens skin cells but also reduce the production of enzymes that damage skin. It can help your skin look smooth and supple and reduce the depth of both small and large wrinkles.
Guggulu formulation pancha tikta ghrita guggulu is prescribed twice a day with warm milk or water to treat psoriasis. Guggulu can also help tackle other skin conditions like allergic dermatitis.
This anti-inflammatory, antioxidant herbal medicine can also help with acne. In one study, when extracts were given to test subjects with nodulocystic acne for three months, the lesions progressively reduced. The remedy was also found to be more effective than the antibiotic remedy tetracycline for those with oily skin.
6. Eases Canker Sores And Gingivitis
To treat any superficial wounds, mix half a cup of warm water with a crushed guggulu tablet and apply topically. This helps with wound healing.
If you have painful canker sores in your mouth or suffer from gingivitis or early gum disease, guggulu is worth a try thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. Make an easy-to-use mouthwash by crushing a tablet of guggulu extract in half a cup of warm water. Use this as a mouthwash thrice a day and you should see an easing of symptoms.
Guggulu acts on multiple fronts to help your metabolism, which explains its long-term use in traditional medicine as a remedy for obesity and related problems. It boosts thyroid function, revs up digestion, and improves your metabolism. What’s more, it prevents the conversion of any undigested carbs into triglycerides and lowers blood cholesterol. It also counters oxidative stress and inflammation associated with obesity.
8. Protects The Brain And Fights Alzheimer’s Disease
Animal studies show that guggulu’s bioactive component guggulsterone can enhance cognitive ability. It is neuroprotective and may be able to help those with memory deficits or learning impairment, making it a promising alternative remedy for dementia.
Guggulu’s neuroprotective features could extend to helping those with epilepsy, paralysis, and polyneuropathy.
The accumulation in the brain of beta-amyloid, an abnormal protein derived from amyloid precursor protein (APP), is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. High cholesterol levels may have a role to play in APP processing, but guggulu can help fight this because of its cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant properties. Guggulu also helps counter the enzyme acetylcholine esterase which breaks down acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters and impairs learning and memory.
9. Helps With Blood Glucose Control In Diabetics
Guggulu plays a role in both glucose and lipid metabolism, making it a promising remedy for controlling blood sugar levels. In addition, it also has a protective effect on your pancreas, which produces insulin required to regulate blood glucose. Research on animals has shown that guggulu resin extract could help lower levels of elevated blood glucose as well as glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), another indicator of diabetes. The remedy may, therefore, hold potential for diabetics who want to achieve better glycemic control.
Animal studies have also shown that the guggulsterones in guggulu can improve insulin production. Couple this with its ability to help with obesity and lower cholesterol levels – both of which are risk factors for diabetics – and the case for guggulu becomes stronger. Do keep in mind, though, that much of this comes from lab studies rather than clinical trials, so you may want to consult a trained medical practitioner to see if this is a good option for you. Do not discontinue any current medication without your doctor’s go-ahead.
10. Improves Thyroid Function
By aiding thyroid function, guggulu also indirectly helps arrest hair loss and premature graying of hair.
Animal studies show that guggulu can help treat autoimmune-linked thyroid problems by increasing T3 concentration. It also stimulates the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3, the more active variant. As another animal study found, a compound called ketosteroid in guggul exhibits strong thyroid stimulatory action, aiding the thyroid’s iodine-uptake and boosting the activity of enzymes linked to thyroid activity. 0256]
11. Has Potential To Fight Tumors
The guggulsterones in guggulu may also have potential in the treatment of cancer. One piece of research highlights its potential against a range of tumor cells linked to breast cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer, and multiple myeloma. It even inhibited the replication of drug-resistant cancer cells. Guggulu is believed to act by inhibiting DNA synthesis, preventing the proliferation of tumor cells, and by inducing cell death of these tumor cells. However, further study is needed on both animals and humans to establish whether these findings will hold good in vivo and can have wider application.
Taking Guggulu Safely
Guggulu is available in powder and tablet form and is generally safe to use. But it should be taken in prescribed amounts in the manner suggested by a trained practitioner. A small number of people have been known to experience some skin irritation like rashes and itching from using guggulu. It may also cause stomach upsets, vomiting, nausea, belching, hiccups, and headaches in some.
Guggulu can raise the risk of bleeding, so if you are already taking any form of antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications, you may need to check with your doctor on whether it is safe to have guggulu. It is not recommended for people who have acute liver disorders or inflammatory bowel disease. Guggulu may interfere with or have an additive effect with any other herbs that exhibit estrogenic activity, so keep your doctor posted about any other herbal remedies you take. It should also not be used during pregnancy.