Guggul, also known as false myrrh, has been used in Ayurvedic medicines for thousands of years. It is obtained from the gummy resinous discharge known as gum guggul of the shrub-like tree found in the dry to semi-arid areas of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This gum resin contains complex volumes of elements, which have a positive systemic impact. These include:

  • Gum
  • Minerals
  • Essential oils
  • Terpenes – a phytonutrient which acts as an antioxidant to protect the body fluids from free radical oxygen molecules
  • Sterols – which balance cholesterol levels and reduce fatty acids in the blood
  • Ferrulates – which help to prevent ageing
  • Flavonones –  they act as anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents and
  • Sterones – which control inflammation, the immune function, the metabolic process and the balance of salt and water in the body. They also gift the body with the capability to resist poor health and injury.

Guggul extracts’ main component is guggulipid of which the active ingredient is the steroid guggelsterone which converts cholesterol into bile.

Guggulsterone is noted for its ability to lower cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride and increase the levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Its anti-oxidant properties prevents LDL from oxidising and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries which can cause heart attacks) and reducing the stickiness of platelets – both being conditions that can impact on heart health.

More specifically, cholesterol is either taken up by LDL and distributed in the blood or used by the liver to create bile, which is vital for the digestion of fats. Once the quantity of bile reaches a certain level in the body, Farnesoid X receptor (FXR) stops the liver from converting more cholesterol into bile.

Guggulsterone blocks the action of FXR which means that the liver continues to convert more LDL cholesterol into bile acids and thus reduces the total amount of bad cholesterol in the system. This is important, as LDL is an oily fat making it insoluble in the blood plasma and being sticky, LDL often deposits cholesterol in the arteries that are carrying it. This can form a coating called plaque which narrows the pathway and hardens the arteries. This condition commonly known as hardening of the arteries or more formally as atherosclerosis can be extremely dangerous especially if a blood clot forms and is prevented from passing through it can cause heart attacks or strokes.

One study showed that it lowers serum triglyceride and LDL by 25% while raising the levels of HDL. Additional research was undertaken with a double-blind placebo study of 61 individuals who were monitored over a period of 24 weeks. The first two weeks were dedicated to a healthy diet after which they were divided into two groups where one half received placebos and the other guggul (which equalled 100 mg of guggulsterones daily). After the 24 weeks the results showed the following;

  • The treated group had a 11.7% reduction in total cholesterol
  • They also showed a 12.7% decrease in LDL and
  • 12% reduction in triglycerides
  • 11.1% decrease in the total cholesterol ratio

Another study done with 40 heart disease patients over a 16-week period showed that daily dose of 4.5 grams of guggul lip resulted in a 21.75% decrease in blood fats (LDL and triglycerides) and a 35% increase in HDL or good cholesterol. The study also showed that guggul lipid reduced the platelet stickiness thereby contributing to a health cardio-vascular system.

Guggul also reduces rapid heart rate, normalizes the heart’s pressure and improves the heart muscle’s function. Recent analysis has also shown that even small incidences of inflammation can affect heart health and further studies indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties of guggul can inhibit the activities of enzymes that stimulate inflammation while its anti-oxidant properties prevent cardio-damage from harmful free radicals.