Guggul is made from the sap (gum resin) of the Commiphora mukul tree, which is native to India. This tree has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and Ayurvedic texts dating back to 600 BC recommend it for treating atherosclerosis.
Today guggul gum resin is used for arthritis, lowering high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), acne and other skin diseases, and weight loss.
How does it work?
Guggul contains substances that lower cholesterol and triglycerides. One of these substances also decreases the redness and swelling that occurs in some types of acne.
Possibly Effective for:
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood of people eating a Western diet. Interestingly, guggul does seem to work in Indian populations, who eat a different type of diet. Among this group, guggul seems to lower total cholesterol, “bad cholesterol” (LDL cholesterol), and other blood fats called triglycerides.
- Arthritis. Preliminary clinical evidence suggests that taking 500 mg of guggul (containing 3.5% guggulsterones) three times daily might improve arthritis pain.
- Weight loss. There is some clinical evidence that guggul in combination with phosphate, hydroxycitric acid, and L-tyrosine plus exercise and a low-calorie diet might result in modest weight loss. However, a separate study of a standardized guggul extract generally used for lowering cholesterol found that doses of 3000 or 6000 mg daily for 8 weeks had no effect on body weight.
Side Effects & Safety
Guggul is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people. It has been used safely in clinical trials for up to 24 weeks. Some evidence also suggests that long-term use up to 75 weeks may be safe.
It can cause side effects such as stomach upset, headaches, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, belching, and hiccups. Guggul can also cause allergic reactions such as rash and itching. Guggul can also cause skin rash and itching that is not related to allergy. These adverse reactions are more common with higher doses, such as 6000 mg per day.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Guggul is LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy. It seems to encourage menstrual flow and stimulates the uterus, so some researchers worry that it might endanger the pregnancy. Not enough is known about the safety of using guggul during breast-feeding. Don’t use guggul if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Guggul might act like estrogen in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use guggul.
Underactive or overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism): Guggul might interfere with treatment for these conditions. If you have a thyroid condition, don’t use guggul without your healthcare provider’s supervision.
Surgery: Guggul might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using guggul at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Major Interaction Do not take this combination
- Estrogens interacts with GUGGUL
Large amounts of guggul might theoretically increase the side effects of estrogen.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with GUGGUL
Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Guggul might theoretically increase the side effects of birth control pills.
Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac) interacts with GUGGUL
Taking guggul can decrease how much diltiazem (Cardizem) that the body absorbs. Taking guggul along with diltiazem (Cardizem) might decrease the effectiveness of diltiazem (Cardizem).
- Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with GUGGUL
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Guggul might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking guggul along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking guggul talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with GUGGUL
Guggul might slow blood clotting. Taking guggul along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
- Propranolol (Inderal) interacts with GUGGUL
Guggul might decrease how much propranolol (Inderal) the body absorbs. Taking guggul along with propranolol (Inderal) might decrease the effectiveness of propranolol (Inderal).
- Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) interacts with GUGGUL
Some types of cancer are affected by hormones in the body. Estrogen-sensitive cancers are cancers that are affected by estrogen levels in the body. Tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is used to help treat and prevent these types of cancer. Guggul could theoretically affect estrogen levels in the body. By affecting estrogen in the body, guggul might decrease the effectiveness of tamoxifen (Nolvadex). Do not take guggul if you are taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
- Thyroid hormone interacts with GUGGUL
Guggul might increase thyroid hormone in the body. Taking guggul along with thyroid hormone pills might increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormones.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For severe (nodulocystic) acne: a twice daily dose of guggul that contains up to 25 mg of the active ingredients called guggulsterones.