Modern Medicine and Guggul
The medicinal properties of guggul are primarily from the sticky yellow, brown, or green substance exuded by or extracted from the mukul tree(Commiphora mukul or Commiphora wightii).9 Guggul extracts have been examined by Western scientists for its possible benefits in treating high cholesterol, obesity, and acne.1-2 Part of this research involves determining chemical components guggul is made of, which parts are responsible for the observed effects on humans and animals, and how it works.
Parts of Guggul that Have Health Benefits
Gugulipid is also used interchangeably with the word guggul, but more accurately refers to the dried extract of whole resin. Most resins have antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties that can help heal wounds. Guggul is rich in diterpenoids, polysaccharide saponins, saponin glycosides, and phytosterols, which are large, easily absorbed molecules that research has shown generally exert a number of medicinal qualities:11
Saponins also appear to be safe when taken orally, but can cause gastrointestinal distress. This effect may be the cause of the nausea and stomach aches that sometimes occurs as a side effect of guggul. Some of the components of guggul that research indicates are linked to its possible medicinal benefits are guggulsterones, which are phytoesterol molecules. Phytoesterols are similar to other substances in both plants and mammals: saponins (in plants) and steroidal hormones (e.g., cortisol).11
Research indicates that several types of molecules in guggul exert both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities (e.g., cembrenoids, lignans, and guggulsterones).14 Lab, animal, and human studies suggest that guggul’s medicinal properties may be beneficial for a number of diseases and conditions:
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Also called Indian Bedellium and guggulu in Sanskrit.
E-guggulsterone and Z-guggulsterone.