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Guggul Lipid and Guggulsterone - Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage and Side-Effects

Updated on May 28, 2014
Guggul has been used for centuries in Ayurveda and Unani.
Guggul has been used for centuries in Ayurveda and Unani. | Source

What is Guggul?

A very effective Ayurvedic herb, guggul extract is derived from a plant by the same name. The Latin name of this plant is Commiphora mukul and it belongs to the Burseraceae family of plants. The plant is mostly found in Central Asia or Northern Africa, and makes it appearance mostly in northern states of India.

A highly tolerant plant, it can survive easily in areas where there is very little water available. The tree secretes a yellowish resin which has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries in the traditional medicine systems of Ayurveda and Unani. This resin is often referred to as gum guggul and its extract is called as guggul lipid.

What is Guggulsterone?

The guggul extract has been found to possess medicinal properties due to the presence of a plant steroid. This is called guggulsterone. This plant steroid exists as E-guggulsterone and Z-guggulsterone and is often found in various nutritional supplements for its ability to help with weight loss and reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol.

Guggul resin is extracted from the guggul plant and used for various medicinal purposes.
Guggul resin is extracted from the guggul plant and used for various medicinal purposes. | Source

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Quick Facts about Guggul

  • Guggulesterone is the active ingredient in guggul lipids.
  • Guggul is an approved treatment for reducing cholesterol and losing weight in Ayurveda and Unani medicinal systems.
  • Guggul is combined with Triphala to achieve better cardiovascular and other health benefits.

Health Benefits of Guggul

Good for Cardiovascular Health

As mentioned above, the active ingredients, E-guggulsterone and Z-guggulsterone are responsible for the health and medicinal benefits of the guggul extract. Although more research is required, studies have shown that guggulsterones affect cholesterol levels in the body.

The plant sterols have been found to lower bad cholesterol levels, probably by stimulating the liver to remove LDLs from the bloodstream. Guggulsterone also stimulates the thyroid gland. This may also play a role in decreasing cholesterol levels.

One of the primary medicinal usages of guggul in Ayurveda and Unani forms of medicine is for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. It has been found that it decreases the risk of this health condition by lowering the levels of serum lipids.

Guggul may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by reducing platelet stickiness, an important factor that may be increase the risk of heart attacks.

Anti-inflammatory

Guggul extract is supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties. This means that it can help in various inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Antioxidant Properties

Its antioxidant properties help reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules released in the body during oxidation, a process that occurs naturally during normal cellular functions.

These molecules are referred to as free because they are missing a critical molecule, which causes them go in search for another molecule. In their search, they attack cells to acquire their missing molecule. This can damage the DNA of the cells, causing major diseases such as cancer and heart problems.

As an herb possessing antioxidant properties, guggul terminates this chain reaction of free radicals before they cause any vital damage to the cells of the body. This means that it can prevent cancer, as well as heart disease and strokes. It also slows down the aging process.

Good for Respiratory Disorders

Inhalation of the fumes generated by burning the guggul bark is believed to cure respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. Its anti-bacterial properties may also be quite effective in fighting bacterial infections in the body.

Fights Cancer

Preliminary investigations have revealed that guggulsterone may help fight tumors in the body. They may do so by inducing the death of cancer cells or by stopping the growth of the tumor.

Treats Cystic Acne

Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties may also make it quite helpful in the treatment of cystic acne, which is characterized by boil-like eruptions on the skin. Treatment with guggul is believed to be as effective as treatment with the antibiotic tetracycline since it works at decreasing pain and reducing inflammation.

Stimulates Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is stimulated by guggulsterone. This effect may play a role both in the ability of the substance to decrease cholesterol levels and to promote weight loss by increasing the body's rate of metabolism.

Helps with Weight Loss

Guggul extract is found in quite a few weight loss aids. Its ability to influence the thyroid gland is considered to be one of the major reasons in weight loss. It promotes thyroid gland activity, resulting in an increase in the rate of metabolism. This in turn leads to quicker burning of fat and quicker weight loss.

It may especially be effective in reducing weight if it is combined with phosphate, hydroxycitric acid, and L-tyrosine. Of course, to get results, you need to add exercise and a low-calorie diet to your daily schedule.

Guggul is combined with Triphala, a popular Ayurvedic formulation comprising of three herbs, for weight loss, reducing cholesterol levels, cleansing the gastrointestinal tract, lifting mood, and improving blood circulation.

Dosage for Guggul

Daily recommended dosage for cholesterol management as well as weight loss is 25 mg of guggulsterone taken thrice daily. The supplement is supposed to be taken for at least 12 weeks to experience its health benefits. The dosage suggested for cystic acne is 500 mg twice a day and 500 mg thrice a day for osteoarthritis.

Side-Effects of Guggul

Guggul extract is quite safe to use even for a long period of time. However, there may be certain minor side-effects which some people may experience.

It has been found that guggul may interact with estrogen and cause an increase in the side-effects of this hormone. So, be careful if you are taking estrogen pills. Use with caution if you are using birth control pills, especially those that contain estrogen.

If you are using any medication which is broken down by the liver, make sure to use guggul with caution. It may decrease the effectiveness of these medications. Consult your doctor if you have any doubts about your current medications.

Guggul slows down blood clotting, so don't combine it with medications that slow down clotting. Don't combine with pills used for increasing the production of thyroid hormones as it may increase their effects and side-effects to unwanted levels.

Minor side-effects with guggul usage are possible. These include stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, belching, rashes, itching, and headaches. However, only higher doses of the herb have been found to cause these reactions.

Make Good Use of the Guggul Extract

Keep in mind that guggul is a century old herb and is an approved treatment for high cholesterol and atherosclerosis in the traditional medicinal systems of Ayurveda and Unani. So, if you are looking for an herbal supplement for bringing down your cholesterol levels or losing weight, this may be a good option. It is also a good option for replacing tetracycline as a treatment for cystic acne. The herb can also be used for medicinal purposes for the treatment of osteoarthritis. In short, guggul is a very useful herb for its medicinal properties.

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