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Guggul: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:

Guggul is an oleo-gum resin obtained from the bark of Commiphora wightii and belongs to the family Burseraceae. It is obtained as an exudate from the tapping of branches and stems of the guggul tree. It is found in dry areas of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In India, it is found in Gujarat, Assam, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh.1

The guggul tree is a small, bushy tree and has thorny branches. It makes yellowish gum resin in small ducts found all over its bark. The guggul tree is hit by making a cut on its bark, due to which the resins flow out and are allowed to harden before they are collected.1

Guggul : uses, benefits, dosage and side effects

Guggul has been used in the Indian traditional system for thousands of years to manage inflammation, gout, rheumatism, arthritis, obesity, and lipid metabolism disorders. It is also known as Guggula, Gugar, Guggal, and Indian bdellium.1

Other vernacular names of guggul are Guggul Dhoop and Kanth Gan in Kashmiri; Guggulu in Oriya; Guggula in Bengali; Guggul in Assamese; Guggal, Gugal, Gugar in Gujarati; Muqil (Shihappu) in Urdu; Guggal in Punjabi; Makishakshi guggulu, Guggipannu in Telugu; Mahisaksi Guggalu in Tamil; Mahishaksh, Guggul in Marathi; Gulgulu, Guggulu in Malayalam; Guggala, Kanthagana, Guggal, Mahishaksha guggulu, Guggulugida, Guggala, Guggulu in Kannada.2

Chemical Composition of Guggul:

Guggul is an oleo gum resin and contains gum, resin and volatile oils (small quantity). It contains amino acids, sugars, essential oils, flavonoids, cembrene, camphorene, allycembrol, and ellagic acid.3

Also Read: Alum: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Potential Uses of Guggul:

Guggul has the following therapeutic properties:4

  • It may show anti-inflammatory property
  • It may show anti-arthritic property (help manage arthritis symptoms)
  • It may show anti-hypercholesterolemic properties (prevents excessive cholesterol in the blood)
  • It may show anti-thrombotic property (prevents blood clots that block the arteries or veins)
  • It may show anti-rheumatism property (manages pain and inflammation of muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue)
  • It may show anti-hyperlipidaemic property (manages excessive lipid/fats in the blood)
  • It may show carminative activity (relieves flatulence/gas)
  • It may show antispasmodic property (relieves spasms/cramps)
  • It may show astringent property (shrinks body tissues)4
  • It may show heart-protective property
  • It may show antioxidant property
  • It may show anti-microbial property
  • It may show anti-cancer property
  • It may show thyroid stimulatory property1

Also Read: Khadirarishta: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Potential Uses of Guggul:

Guggul possesses many properties, which may show potential uses against many disease conditions.

1. Potential uses of guggul for arthritis and inflammation:

Several studies have confirmed that guggul is beneficial for arthritis and inflammation and has anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity. The guggul extract was evaluated for anti-arthritic activity in various animal models. It was found that it blocked the disease’s development and lowered the severity of the disease.1Several studies have confirmed that guggul might be helpful for arthritis and inflammation and show anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. The guggul extract was also evaluated for anti-arthritic activity in various animal models. In studies it was found that it blocked the disease’s development and lowered the effect of arthritis.1 However, do not use guggul as an alternative to medicinal treatment. Talk to a healthcare provider before using guggul for arthritis.

2. Potential uses of guggul for skin diseases:

In a study, gugulipid (extract of guggul) was found to be effective in managing nodulocystic acne (a severe form of inflammatory acne that cauIn a study, gugulipid (extract of guggul) was found to be effective in managing nodulocystic acne (a severe form of inflammatory acne that causes cysts and nodules on the face). In a human trial, too, it was found to have some benefits for nodulocystic acne. The patients who had oily faces showed better results.1 However, talk to a skin doctor or specialist before using any herbal remedy on your face.

3. Potential uses of guggul for obesity:

According to a study, guggul shAccording to a study, guggul showed a lipid-lowering effect in obesity and atherosclerosis (a condition where fat deposits in the arteries). The lipid-lowering effect of guggul was studied in animals as well as humans. Guggul contains bioactive compounds that might be responsible for hypolipidemic activity.1 You should talk to a healthcare provider before using any herb to manage weight. In addition, talking to a dietician will help you make better dietary choices.

4. Potential uses of guggul for heart-related diseases:

Guggulsterone (plant steroid) found in guggul may show the heart-protective property. Guggulsterone was tested in an animal model for heart-protective activity. It was found to lower cholesterol, phospholipid, and glycogen levels and protect the heart against damage.1 However, if you are suffering from heart problems, talk to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. 

In my experience, I have observed that Guggulu, a herbal remedy, may have potential effectiveness in managing asthma symptoms. It is believed that Guggulu’s anti-inflammatory properties could help reduce airway inflammation and improve respiratory function.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Akarkara: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

How to Use Guggul?

Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe the form and dose as per your requirement. Guggul can be used as:

  • Powder2
  • Tablet
  • Capsules5

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking guggul or any herbal supplements. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Guggul:

Side effects associated with guggul use are:

  • In Ayurveda, it is mentioned that when raw guggul is used, it may sometimes cause diarrhoea, skin rashes, headache, mild nausea, or irregular menstruation.
  • When guggul is taken at high doses, it may also cause liver toxicity (liver damage).1
  • When guggul extract was tested on humans, some people experienced side effects like fatigue and stomach-related issues.1

Before using guggul or any herbal remedy, consult your doctor about the side effects associated with its use. It will help you make well-informed choices about your health.

Over the years, I have observed that conditions like eczema and psoriasis, which involve inflammation of the skin, can be challenging to manage. However, I have found that Guggulu, a natural remedy, might offer some relief. Based on studies, using a cream containing Boswellia, an active component of Guggulu, can potentially reduce the reliance on corticosteroid creams and improve symptoms such as redness and superficial skin issues.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Precautions to Take With Guggul:

Even though guggul is generally considered relatively safe, it is better to use it with caution.1

  • There is no sufficient data about its safe usage during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, it is advised to consult your doctor before taking guggul.
  • Consult your doctor if you are taking blood pressure medicines like diltiazem and propranolol, as gugulipid (extract of guggul) interacts with these medicines and lowers their effectiveness.6

Also, before taking guggul for its health benefits, consult your healthcare provider about the possible precautions associated with its use.   

Interactions With Other Drugs:

Gugulipid (guggul extract) may interact with blood pressure medicines like diltiazem and propranolol. It reduces the absorption of these medicines. Taking guggul along with these medicines may lower the effectiveness of these drugs.6

If you are taking any medicines, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible interactions of the treatment with other herbs and drugs. This will help you avoid unwanted side effects and interactions. 

Also Read: Atibala – Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions & More!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is guggul helpful in obesity?

Guggul might help deal with obesity. It has been used in Ayurveda for several years for managing obesity.1 However, talk to a healthcare provider before using herbal remedies to manage weight.

Is guggul good for the heart?

Yes, guggul might be good for the heart as it may show heart-protective activity.3 If you are experiencing any heart problems, consult a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can guggul be used during pregnancy?

There is no sufficient information about the safe usage of guggul during pregnancy. However, avoid taking guggul during this time to be safer. You must consult your doctor if you want to take guggul during pregnancy.

Is there any side effect of guggul?

It is mentioned in Ayurveda that when raw guggul is taken, it may sometimes cause diarrhoea, skin rashes, headache, mild nausea, irregular menstruation and liver damage (at high doses). In addition, a study found that some people had temporary side effects like fatigue and stomach-related issues.1 Therefore, before using guggul or any herbal remedy, consult your doctor about the side effects associated with its use.

Does guggul interact with any medicine?

Guggul may interact with blood pressure medicines like diltiazem and propranolol and may lower the effectiveness of these drugs.6 Therefore, If you are taking any medication, talk to your healthcare provider about the possible interactions of the treatment with other herbs and medicines.

Is guggul good for arthritis?

Guggul is good for arthritis. It showed anti-arthritic activity when tested in an animal model. However, its anti-arthritic activity in humans is yet to be tested.1 You should talk to a doctor before using any herbal remedy for arthritis.

Does guggul lower cholesterol?

Guggul was found to lower cholesterol levels in an animal model.1 However, its effect on humans is yet to be tested. Therefore, do not use it as an alternative to medicinal treatment. Talk to a doctor before you use guggul for managing cholesterol.

Is guggul safe?

Yes, guggul is considered safe in prescribed doses, but some studies found few side effects associated with its usage. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor before taking guggul.1

In what forms is guggul available?

Guggul is available as powder, tablet, and capsules.2,5 Consult a doctor before taking guggul for any health condition.

References:

1.          Sarup P, Bala S, Kamboj S. Pharmacology and Phytochemistry of Oleo-Gum Resin of Commiphora wightii (Guggulu) . Scientifica (Cairo). 2015;2015:1–14. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637499/

2.          Health MOF, Welfare F. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part 1. 2001;3:129–30. Available at: http://www.ayurveda.hu/api/API-Vol-1.pdf

3.          Priyanka P, Sanjeev MK, Kumar GV, Jitender S, Sweety. Gum guggul: An ayurvedic boom. Int J Pharmacogn Phytochem Res. 2014;6(2):347–54. Available at: https://impactfactor.org/PDF/IJPPR/6/IJPPR,Vol6,Issue2,Article37.pdf

4.          Vikaspedia. Commiphora wightii [Internet]. Available from: https://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/package-of-practices/medicinal-and-aromatic-plants/commiphora-wightii

5.          Ahmed R, Wang YH, Ali Z, Smillie TJ, Khan IA. HPLC Method for Chemical Fingerprinting of Guggul (Commiphora wightii)-Quantification of E- and Z-Guggulsterones and Detection of Possible Adulterants. Planta Med. 2016;82(4):356–61. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/HPLC-Method-for-Chemical-Fingerprinting-of-Guggul-E-Ahmed-Wang/4f3ca400664e5173813aa679c80d5e1685daf3a4

6.          Dalvi SS, Nayak VK, Pohujani SM, Desai NK, Kshirsagar NA, Gupta KC. Effect of gugulipid on bioavailability of diltiazem and propranolol. J Assoc Physicians India. 1994;42(6):454–5. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7852226/

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