1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Can Guggul Lower Cholesterol?

Studies Investigating Guggul Appear Conflicting

By

Updated September 30, 2012

Guggul, also known as guggulu and guggulipid, is a substance secreted by the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul) after it has been injured. It has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat obesity, osteoarthritis, and some skin conditions. Recently, research has suggested that guggul also may lower total cholesterol levels, especially triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. The method by which guggul lowers cholesterol is not totally understood, however, there have been many mechanisms proposed. These mechanisms include blocking cholesterol synthesis and increasing removal of LDL cholesterol.

Can Guggul Lower Cholesterol?

Unfortunately, there is not enough data to support guggul’s effectiveness in lowering cholesterol levels. Some of the research performed on guggul suggests that it does modestly lower total cholesterol (between 10 to 27 percent), triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, however, there are other studies that suggest guggulipid has no effect in lowering cholesterol levels. One study to date noted that LDL cholesterol was actually elevated in the individuals taking guggul, however this result has not been noted in any other studies. This study was the only randomized guggul study conducted outside of India. The researchers of this study suspect that the cholesterol-lowering abilities of guggul may have something to do with diet. For instance, in this particular study the subjects followed a typical, fatty Western diet, whereas in the previous studies performed in India, the individuals consumed a more low fat, high fiber diet.

Currently, the majority of studies that examined guggul's ability to lower cholesterol only lasted a few months. Therefore, more long-term studies would be needed in order to determine the effectiveness of guggul.

What Should I Know Before Taking Guggul?

Guggul has been shown to interact with CYP3A4, an enzyme system in the body that is responsible for metabolizing many chemicals, including medications. There have been reports that taking guggul with certain medications, such as propanolol, diltiazem, and birth control pills could reduce the effectiveness of those drugs. Conversely, taking guggul with other types of drugs, such as statins, may actually raise the levels of these drugs in the body, causing them to become more toxic.

Guggul also may increase the effectiveness of blood thinners (like Coumadin (warfarin)), which may cause you to bleed more easily. This list is not limited to the drugs listed above, so if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, it would be wise not to take guggul, unless you are sure that an interaction between guggul and your medication does not exist. Additionally, you should not take guggul if you are pregnant or if you have a thyroid disorder, since guggul may lower thyroid stimulating hormone levels.

Sources:

Shields KM, Moranvillie MP. Guggul for Hypercholesterolemia. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2005; 62 (10): 1012-1014.

Ulbricht C, Basch E, et al. Guggul for hyperlipidemia: a review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Complement Ther Med. 2005 Dec;13(4):279-90.

Szapary PO, Wolfe ML, et al. Guggulipid for the Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2003;290:765-772.

Thompson Coon JS, Ernst E. Herbs for serum cholesterol reduction: a systematic review. J Fam Pract. 2003;52:468-478.

Raloff J. A Guggul Prescription for Drug Interactions. Science Daily . 2004;116.

Related Video
Lower Body Toning with Lunges and Squats
How to Stretch Your Lower Body

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.