Parts Used & Where Grown
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.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
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%.
, 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%.
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.
One controlled trial found that (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne. The amount of guggul extract taken in the trial was 500 mg twice per day.
500 to 2,000 mg three times per day
Findings regarding the ability of guggul extracts to lower cholesterol levels are mixed.
Guggulsterones are compounds from guggul (also known as guggulipid), a gum resin from Commiphora wightii (a plant native to India) that has been used for centuries as a traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide range of ailments. Guggulsterones have been found to bind to receptors involved in cholesterol metabolism, and some clinical research suggests it can lower cholesterol levels. However, results of controlled trials using guggul have been mixed. One publication described two controlled crossover trials: one included 205 participants and compared guggulipid to placebo and the other with 233 participants compared guggulipid to the cholesterol-lowering drug clofibrate (Atromid-S). Treatment with 500 mg of guggulipid three times daily for 12 weeks resulted in an 11% drop in total cholesterol levels and was more likely to raise HDL-cholesterol levels than clofibrate. Other early trials had similarly positive findings, but more recent research has been disappointing. For example, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 103 participants with high cholesterol levels found supplementation with 1–2 grams of guggulipid three times daily for eight weeks had no effect on total or HDL-cholesterol levels but significantly increased LDL-cholesterol levels by 4–5% compared with placebo. In another randomized controlled trial with 34 subjects, 2.16 grams of guggul daily for 12 weeks decreased total and HDL-cholesterol levels and had no effect on LDL-cholesterol levels.
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 osteoarthritis 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 osteoarthritis of the knee. Double-blind trials are needed to rule out the possibility of a placebo effect.
500 mg of an extract standardized to contain 5% guggulsterones three times per day
Limited evidence suggests guggul extract may improve metabolic health, lower cholesterol levels, and support weight loss.
Guggul is a resinous compound extracted from the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul) that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat conditions including heart disease, lipid disorders, and obesity. Laboratory research suggests guggul and its active constituents, guggulsterones, may improve fat tissue function and stimulate breakdown of fat for energy. Investigations into its ability to lower high cholesterol levels have had mixed results, and one open trial found patients with metabolic syndrome lost a small amount of weight after taking a combination of guggul, curcumin, and chlorogenic acid for four months.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
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.
How It Works
How It Works
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.1 Guggul significantly lowers serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the “bad” cholesterols).2 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.3 Guggul has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets—another effect that lowers the risk of coronary artery disease.4 One double-blind trial found guggul extract similar to the drug clofibrate for lowering cholesterol levels.5 Other clinical trials in India (using 1,500 mg of extract per day) have confirmed guggul extracts improve lipid levels in humans.6
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.7
One small clinical trial found that guggul (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne.8 The amount of guggul extract taken in the trial was 500 mg twice per day.
How to Use It
Daily recommendations for the purified guggul extract are typically based on the amount of guggulsterones in the extract.9 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.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
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.10 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. Satyavati GV. Gum guggul (Commiphora mukul)—The success of an ancient insight leading to a modern discovery. Indian J Med 1988;87:327-35.
2. Nityanand S, Kapoor NK. Hypocholesterolemic effect of Commiphora mukul resin (Guggal). Indian J Exp Biol 1971;9:367-77.
3. Singh K, Chander R, Kapoor NK. Guggulsterone, a potent hypolipidaemic, prevents oxidation of low density lipoprotein. Phytother Res 1997;11:291-4.
4. Mester L, Mester M, Nityanand S. Inhibition of platelet aggregation by guggulu steroids. Planta Med 1979;37:367-9.
5. 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.
6. Nityanand S, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Clinical trials with Gugulipid—a new hypolipidemic agent. J Assoc Phys India 1989; 37:323–8.
7. 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.
8. Thappa DM, Dogra J. Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline. J Dermatol 1994;21:729-31.
9. Brown D, Austin S. Hyperlipidemia and Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease. Seattle, WA: NPRC, 1997, 4-6.
10. 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: 05-12-2015
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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2023.