Guggul
Guggul
This information describes the common uses of Guggul, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Gum guggal, Gum guggulu, Guggal

How It Works

Studies on whether guggul can lower cholesterol levels are mixed.

Guggul is a resin extract that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Scientists do not know exactly how guggul works. In laboratory experiments, a chemical in guggul called guggulsterone affects the production of cholesterol by the liver. Mice that are fed guggul have reduced cholesterol levels compared with mice that have normal diets.

In humans however, studies on whether guggul can lower cholesterol levels are mixed. One study suggests it may actually raise cholesterol levels. Therefore, additional study is needed to determine whether guggul is safe and effective.

Purported Uses

  • To treat acne
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim for guggul alone. See the Ayurveda monograph for more information on the treatment of acne.
  • To treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To treat hemorrhoids
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To reduce high cholesterol
    Studies on whether guggul can lower cholesterol levels are mixed.
  • To treat urinary tract disorders
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To lose weight
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking warfarin, aspirin, NSAIDs or other blood thinners: In theory, guggul may increase the risk of bleeding. Take with caution and ask your doctor.
  • You are taking thyroid supplements, or have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism: Guggul may stimulate the thyroid gland.
  • You are taking drugs that are substrates of Cytochrome P450 3A4: Guggul may make the drugs less effective.

Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Mild nausea
  • Belching
  • Hiccups
  • Loose stools
  • Rash

Case reports

  • Elevated liver enzymes: In a 63-year old woman after using an over-the-counter lipid-lowering product for 6 months that contained guggulsterol and red yeast rice extract. Her symptoms normalized after the product was discontinued.
  • Allergic reactions: Contact dermatitis related to guggul in slimming and anticellulite creams.
  • Liver failure requiring transplant: In a healthy woman who took a dietary supplement containing usnic acid, green tea, and guggul tree extract.