Guggul or guggulu, more popularly known as Bdellium, is derived from a plant closely related to myrrh that is found in arid to semi-arid areas of Northern India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
When used for medicinal purposes, the resin, harvested from the stems in the winter, is traditionally processed to purify and render it bio-available. The dried gum is again fried in ghee and finely powdered for medicinal use.
The Sanskrit definition of the term “guggul” is “one that protects against diseases.” This attests to the therapeutic Ayurvedic applications for this botanical. The most important is for the removal of “ama,” toxic substances which accumulate as a result of sluggish digestion and circulation – perfect for the accumulation of arterial cholesterol.
Guggul has been used for over 3,000 years. Current research substantiates its benefit for the treatment of elevated blood lipids and coronary and arterial plaque known as atherosclerosis. As a result, today standardized guggul extracts are being approved for lowering elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels in India.
Guggulsterones, or commiphora mukul (the active ingredient of the gugulipid gum powder, are the extract isolates of ketonic steroid compounds. Based on research, these compounds are considered to be responsible for guggul’s cholesterol- and triglyceride-lowering actions. Guggul significantly lowers serum triglycerides and cholesterol as well as LDL and VLDL cholesterols (the “bad” cholesterols) by approximately 25% according to Some studies. At the same time, it raises levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).
Guggul has also been shown to reduce the stickiness of platelets – another effect that lowers the risk of coronary artery disease. One double-blind trial found guggul extract similar to the drug Clofibrate which is used not only for lowering cholesterol and blood lipid levels generally, but for treating angina pectoris, blood sludging and diabetic neuropathy.
How Guggul Works To Lower Cholesterol?
Studies conducted in the University of Texas and Baylor College, established that guggul-lipid blocks the activity of a receptor in the liver’s cell, called farnesoid X receptor (FXR) (you don’t have to remember it). This receptor (FXR), binds bile acids, which maintain normal cholesterol levels. In humans, about 500 mg of cholesterol is converted in bile acids every day. This route for elimination of excess cholesterol is important, especially when the intake of cholesterol is massive.
When bile acid levels are high, it binds to the FXR site and this action stops further production of bile acids. By inhibiting FXR, the production of bile acids continues and thus rids the body of more cholesterol.
Gugulipid had also blood thinning (anti-platelet) and antioxidants properties as well, which are plus points in the treatment of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. The anti-platelet effect prevents blood platelets clumping together, and as an antioxidant, guggulipid prevents LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing. These reduce in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Most importantly, there are no significant side effects with the purified extract of gugulipid except for minor gastric upsets experienced by some on long term use.
Guggul-Lipid Clinical Trials.
Most trials have been performed in India, but India can do some good work and many are published in good peer review journals. Below you will see US studies. Previously, guggul was used in animal studies and it was found that guggul lowered cholesterol levels and protected against the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries leading to heart attack). Since then, studies were made in humans to determine the effectiveness of guggul-lipid in lowering cholesterol.
In Cardiovasc Drugs Ther [1994 Aug;8(4):659-64], Commiphora mukul was shown todecrease total cholesterol levels by 11.7%, LDL by 12.5% and triglycerides by 12.0% in a 24 week period. Clinical studies have indicated that Commiphora mukul affords cardioprotective benefits [Altern Med Rev 1998 Dec;3(6):422-31].
A study published in J Postgrad Med [1991 Jul;37(3):132-5] has shown that Commiphora mukul significantly prevented an increase in serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels in albino rats caused by atherogenic diet.
Cholesterol – Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that the guggulsterone, the active ingredient in guggul extract, blocks the activity of a receptor in the liver’s cells called Farnesoid X Receptor (FXR). Later, confirmed by Dr. David Mangelsdorf at University of Texas.
Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas confirmed that the guggul blocked the receptor and affected how cholesterol is metabolized.
Cholesterol/ Atherosclerosis – A double-blind placebo-controlled study of guggul for reducing cholesterol studied 61 individuals for 24 weeks. After following a healthy diet for 12 weeks the participants were divided into two groups with half of the participants receiving placebo and the other half receiving guggul (100 mg of guggulsterones daily). At 24 weeks the results showed that the treated group had a 11.7% decrease in total cholesterol. Those on guggul also had a 12.7% decrease in LDL (“bad” cholesterol), a 12% decrease in triglycerides, and an 11.1% decrease in the total cholesterol ratio.
Cholesterol/ Atherosclerosis – Forty heart disease patients participating in a 16-week study were given twice daily divided doses of 4.5 grams of guggul lipid. They experienced a 21.75% decrease in blood fats (including LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides) and a 35% increase in “good cholesterol.” Guggul lipid also reduced platelet stickiness.
Cholesterol – Another study conducted at Kerala University in India established that “guggul given to laboratory animals reduced their blood lipid levels quickly and effectively without side effects.” They found that improved liver enzyme activity was one of the ways guggul reduced the blood cholesterol. Kerala Univ., Indian J. Exp. Biol. 33, 1995
Cholesterol/ Atherosclerosis – A study of 228 patients showed similar results from guggul as were obtained from the standard drug Clofibrate.
In one study 205 patients reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by an average of 26 percent and triglycerides by 22.6 percent. They used a supplement of 500 mg of gugulipid for 12 weeks with no change in diet or lifestyle.
Another study involved 61 patients aged 25 to 65 years old, whose cholesterol levels were greater than 200 mg/dl. They were divided into two groups and advised to keep a low-fat diet and to eat at least 400 grams per day fruits and vegetables.
However, one group was given an additional 50 mg gugulipid twice a day for 24 weeks or 6 months. While the diet alone caused a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides in both groups, those treated with the guggulipid had a further 11.7 percent drop in the total cholesterol, along with a 12.7 percent decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a 12 percent decrease in triglycerides. At the same time their total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol ratio rose by 11.1 percent (the higher this ratio the less the chances of getting a heart attack).
A-Z Index, – under “Artery Plaque Reduction”, and “Cholesterol – High Cholesterol Formula“, or:
Artery Plaque Reduction – to help dissolve and remove artery plaque.
High Cholesterol Formula – how to lower and maintain cholesterol levels.
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