The mukul myrrh (Commiphora mukul) tree is a small, thorny plant distributed throughout India. Guggul and gum guggulu are the names given to a yellowish resin produced by the stem of the plant. This resin has been used historically and is also the source of modern extracts of guggul.
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3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
25 mg guggulsterones three times per day
Clinical trials indicate that guggul is effective in treating high triglycerides, in one trial, serum triglycerides fell by 30.3%.
Guggul , a mixture of ketonic steroids from the gum oleoresin of Commiphora mukul, is an approved treatment of hyperlipidemia in India and has been a mainstay of Ayurvedic herbal approaches to preventing atherosclerosis. Clinical trials indicate that guggul is effective in the treatment of high TGs; in one trial, serum TGs fell by 30.3%.1
However, these results have not been confirmed by large, controlled trials. The recommended daily intake of guggul is typically based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract. The recommended amount of guggulsterones is 25 mg three times per day. Most extracts contain 5–10% guggulsterones. Guggul’s effect on TGs should be monitored for three to four months, and guggul may be taken long term if successful in lowering TGs.
500 mg extract twice per day
A controlled trial found that guggul (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in treating cystic acne.
25 mg guggulsterones three times per day
Guggul appears to be helpful in lowering cholesterol and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Guggul , a mixture of substances taken from a plant, is an approved treatment for elevated cholesterol in India and has been a mainstay of the Ayurvedic approach to preventing atherosclerosis. One double-blind trial studying the effects of guggul reported that serum cholesterol dropped by 17.5%.3 In another double-blind trial comparing guggul to the drug clofibrate, the average fall in serum cholesterol was slightly greater in the guggul group; moreover, HDL cholesterol rose in 60% of people responding to guggul, while clofibrate did not elevate HDL.4 A third double-blind trial found significant changes in total and LDL cholesterol levels, but not in HDL.5 However, in another double-blind trial, supplementation with guggul for eight weeks had no effect on total serum cholesterol, but significantly increased LDL-cholesterol levels, compared with a placebo.6 Daily intakes of guggul are based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract. The recommended amount of guggulsterones is 25 mg taken three times per day. Most extracts contain 5 to 10% guggulsterones, and doctors familiar with their use usually recommend taking guggul for at least 12 weeks before evaluating its effect.
500 mg of a concentrated extract (3.5% guggulsterones) three times per day
In one trial, supplementing with guggul significantly improved symptoms in people with OA of the knee.
In a preliminary trial, supplementation with 500 mg of a concentrated extract (3.5% guggulsterones) of Commiphora mukul (guggul) three times per day for one month resulted in a significant improvement in symptoms in people with OA of the knee.7 Double-blind trials are needed to rule out the possibility of a placebo effect.
Refer to label instructions
Coupled with exercise, a combination of guggul, phosphate salts, hydroxycitrate, and tyrosine was shown in one study to improve mood and weight loss in overweight adults.
Coupled with exercise in a double-blind trial, a combination of guggul, phosphate salts, hydroxycitrate, and tyrosine has been shown to improve mood with a slight tendency to improve weight loss in overweight adults.8 Daily recommendations for guggul are typically based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract. A common intake of guggulsterones is 25 mg three times per day. Most guggul extracts contain 5 to 10% guggulsterones and can be taken daily for 12 to 24 weeks.
The classical treatise on Ayurvedic medicine, Sushrita Samhita, describes the use of guggul for a wide variety of conditions, including rheumatism and obesity. One of its primary indications was a condition known as medoroga. This ancient diagnosis is similar to the modern description of atherosclerosis. Standardized guggul extracts are approved in India for lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Guggul contains resin, volatile oils, and gum. The extract isolates ketonic steroid compounds known as guggulsterones. These compounds have been shown to provide the cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering actions noted for guggul.9 Guggul significantly lowers serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the “bad” cholesterols).10 At the same time, it raises levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). As antioxidants, guggulsterones keep LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, an action which protects against atherosclerosis.11 Guggul has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets—another effect that lowers the risk of coronary artery disease.12 One double-blind trial found guggul extract similar to the drug clofibrate for lowering cholesterol levels.13 Other clinical trials in India (using 1,500 mg of extract per day) have confirmed guggul extracts improve lipid levels in humans.14
A combination of guggul, phosphate salts, hydroxycitrate, and tyrosine coupled with exercise has been shown in a double-blind trial to improve mood with a slight tendency to improve weight loss in overweight adults.15
One small clinical trial found that guggul (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne.16 The amount of guggul extract taken in the trial was 500 mg twice per day.
Daily recommendations for the purified guggul extract are typically based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract.17 A common intake of guggulsterones is 25 mg three times per day. Most extracts contain 2.5–5% guggulsterones and can be taken daily for lowering high cholesterol and/or triglycerides.
Early studies with the crude oleoresin reported numerous side effects, including diarrhea, anorexia, abdominal pain, and skin rash. Modern extracts are more purified, and fewer side effects (e.g., mild abdominal discomfort) have been reported with long-term use. Rash was reported, however, as a fairly common side effect in one recent study.18 Guggul should be used with caution by people with liver disease and in cases of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and diarrhea. A physician should be consulted before treating elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.
1. Agarwal RC, Singh SP, Saran RK, et al. Clinical trial of gugulipid new hypolipidemic agent of plant origin in primary hyperlipidemia. Indian J Med Res 1986;84:626–34.
2. Thappa DM, Dogra J. Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline. J Dermatol 1994;21:729–31.
3. Agarwal RC, Singh SP, Saran RK, et al. Clinical trial of gugulipid new hypolipidemic agent of plant origin in primary hyperlipidemia. Indian J Med Res 1986;84:626–34.
4. Nityanand S, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Clinical trials with Gugulipid—a new hypolipidemic agent. J Assoc Phys India 1989; 37:323–8.
5. Singh RB, Niaz MA, Ghosh S. Hypolipidemic and antioxidant effects of Commiphora mukul as an adjunct to dietary therapy in patients with hypercholesterolemia. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther 1994;8:659–64.
6. Szapary PO, Wolfe ML, Bloedon LT, et al. Guggulipid for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: an randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:765–72.
7. Singh BB, Mishra LC, Vinjamury SP, et al. The effectiveness of Commiphora mukul for osteoarthritis of the knee: an outcomes study. Altern Ther Health Med 2003;9:74–9.
8. Antonio J, Colker CM, Torina GC, et al. Effects of a standardized guggulsterone phosphate supplement on body composition in overweight adults: A pilot study. Curr Ther Res 1999;60:220–7.
9. Satyavati GV. Gum guggul (Commiphora mukul)—The success of an ancient insight leading to a modern discovery. Indian J Med 1988;87:327–35.
10. Nityanand S, Kapoor NK. Hypocholesterolemic effect of Commiphora mukul resin (Guggal). Indian J Exp Biol 1971;9:367–77.
11. Singh K, Chander R, Kapoor NK. Guggulsterone, a potent hypolipidaemic, prevents oxidation of low density lipoprotein. Phytother Res 1997;11:291–4.
12. Mester L, Mester M, Nityanand S. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by guggulu steroids. Planta Med 1979;37:367–9.
13. Malhotra SC, Ahuja MMS, Sundarum KR. Long-term clinical studies on the hypolipidemic effect of Commiphora mukul (guggul) and clofibrate. Ind J Med Res 1977;65:390–5.
14. Nityanand S, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Clinical trials with gugulipid—a new hypolipidemic agent. J Assoc Phys India 1989;37:323–8.
15. Antonio J, Colker CM, Torina GC, et al. Effects of a standardized guggulsterone phosphate supplement on body composition in overweight adults: A pilot study. Curr Ther Res 1999;60:220–7.
16. Thappa DM, Dogra J. Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline. J Dermatol 1994;21:729–31.
17. Brown D, Austin S. Hyperlipidemia and Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease. Seattle, WA: NPRC, 1997, 4–6.
18. Szapary PO, Wolfe ML, Bloedon LT, et al. Guggulipid for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia: an randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290:765–72.
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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