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Guggul

Guggul comes from the resin of the guggul tree's bark. People in India have used it for thousands of years as an herbal medicine.

Guggul may work as an antioxidant or anti-inflammatory, or in some other way.

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Why do people take guggul?

Guggul has become popular for trying to treat high cholesterol. Some studies have shown promise, especially those done in Indian populations, where guggul has lowered cholesterol and triglycerides.

But one of the best-designed trials did not show this benefit. Researchers need to do larger, long-term studies to confirm this benefit.

Lab studies point to some promise for guggul in slowing or stopping tumor growth. But researchers need studies in humans to confirm this.

People also take guggul alone or combined with other supplements to try to treat other problems. These include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Urinary disorders
  • Skin problems such as acne
  • Obesity

Some studies show that guggul may lessen inflammation and the number of acne relapses. But more research is needed. There is not enough solid evidence to support the use of guggul for other conditions.

People usually take guggul as a capsule, tablet, or extract.

Optimal doses of guggul have not been set for any condition. Quality and active ingredients in supplements may vary widely. This makes it hard to set a standard dose.

Can you get guggul naturally from foods?

You cannot get guggul naturally from foods.

What are the risks of taking guggul?

People have used guggul safely in studies for up to six months.

Side effects. Some people have had side effects such as:

  • Headache
  • Mild nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hiccups
  • Belching
  • Loose stools
  • Allergic skin rashes

Rare serious side effects have been reported.

Risks. Do notuse guggul if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have severe liver or kidney disease.  Also, researchers have not confirmed safety in children.

Be careful using guggul if you are getting treated for a thyroid disorder or have a hormone-sensitive cancer or condition. Stop taking guggul at least two weeks before surgery to lower risk of bleeding.

Interactions. Avoid combining guggul with herbs, supplements, or drugs that thin blood, such as:

  • Ginkgo
  • Turmeric
  • Angelica
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Coumadin (warfarin)

Guggul may also interact poorly with certain herbs, including:

  • Black cohosh
  • Flaxseed
  • Soy

It may also interact poorly with:

Also, do not combine guggul with hormone replacement therapy.

The FDA does not regulate supplements. Be sure to tell your doctor about any you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications or foods. He or she can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on December 31, 2012

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