Guggul or Commiphora wightii is a flowering plant, native to Central Asia, Northern India, and Northern Africa. It is also known by the names of 'guggulu', 'guggal' and 'mukul myrrh', and it belongs to the plant family, Burseraceae. It is a small tree or shrub, which secretes a yellowish resinous sap that is known as 'gum guggul'.
This sap is known for several important medical properties, and it has been a part of Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, basically for treating health conditions like obesity, certain skin disorders, and osteoarthritis.
This resinous sap is widely used to make a herbal extract, which is known as 'gugulipid' or 'guggulipid'. Though this extract is used in traditional medicine for treating a number of ailments, many of its benefits are yet to be established by concrete studies. Nevertheless, its popularity is increasing widely as a herbal remedy for some of the serious health problems of this century.
This herbal extract, as we know, is derived from the resinous sap of the 'mukul myrrh' plant. Its main active ingredient is 'Guggulsterone'. Some essential oils, such as myrcene and makulol are the other active ingredients found in this herbal extract. The following are the most noteworthy benefits of this herbal medicine.
- This herbal medicine is primarily known for its cholesterol lowering properties. A few research and studies conducted in this regard have revealed that it may lower the level of total cholesterol, as well as the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the body. This herb can increase the liver's ability to metabolize LDL cholesterol, and eliminate it from the bloodstream.
- It has been observed that guggul extract may increase the level of HDL cholesterol in the body, which is known for its benefits for the heart and the cardiovascular system.
- A reduction in the level of LDL cholesterol, while an increase in the level of HDL cholesterol can raise the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol. This in turn, can help reduce the risk of diseases like atherosclerosis.
- The 'guggulsterone' found in this herbal extract is a potent antioxidant that can prevent the oxidization of cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- This herb can also lower the risk for the formation of blood clots, which can help improve blood circulation in the body. It is also known for its blood purifying properties.
- It may help prevent the accumulation of lipids or fats in the body. It can stimulate the thyroid gland, and thus increase the rate of metabolism.
- It may also prove effective in certain skin disorders like acne.
- Apart from these, it may help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, and promote the health of the digestive system.
The gum guggul is usually considered a safe herbal medicine. But occasionally, a few side effects like diarrhea, belching, hiccups, headaches, vomiting, and nausea can be experienced by some individuals. Some people can also experience skin rash and itching. Pregnant women are usually advised to avoid this herbal extract, as it is known to promote menstrual discharge and stimulate uterine contractions.
Similarly, breastfeeding women are also advised to stay away from it. Individuals suffering from thyroid problems, as well as those with certain types of cancer (breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids should not take this herbal extract without consulting their physicians.
To sum up, this herbal extract needs to be taken with adequate care and precaution. Despite all its benefits, it is possible to encounter a few side effects, if this herbal medicine is not administered in the appropriate dosage. So, it is imperative to talk to a herbalist and your health care provider before considering to take guggul extract for therapeutic purposes.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.