An Ancient Herbal Medicine with Modern Medical Applications

Is Guggul Safe to Use?

Guggul has potential side effects and may not be safe for all people.

In Ayurvedic practice the resin from Commiphora mukul is considered toxic unless purified and rendered into its medicinal extract form (guggul). According to Ayurveda, when using guggul you should avoid sour food, alcohol, and excessive sunlight or sexual activity since these can aggravate the pitta dosha.12

Experts also caution against using guggul without speaking to your medical doctor if you take certain medications (e.g., blood thinners or diabetes drugs).12,55 Other contradictions against taking guggul include pregnancy, breast-feeding, hyperthyroidism, kidney infections, and excessive uterine bleeding.12,55 Studies show that guggul is similar to the sex hormone estrogen, and some experts suggest that in the body it may worsen hormone-sensitive conditions (e.g., breast or prostate cancer).39

Based on animal studies using oral doses of guggul, women trying to get pregnant may not want to use the herb. Rats given either 20 or 200 mg/day (per kilogram of body weight) of guggul for seven consecutive days showed reduced uterine, ovary, and cervix weights and other changes that are indicative of an anti-fertility effect in women.66 Interestingly, 24-hour (0.5-3 g/kg of body weight dosages) and 90-day studies (100 mg/day dosage) on mice with guggul to assess toxicity noted significant increase in the weight of testes and seminal vesicles.10

Side Effects of Guggul Use

Guggul contains molecules called saponins, which generally appear to be safe when taken orally. Although saponins offer a lot of beneficial health effects, they can cause gastrointestinal distress. This can be alleviated by taking guggul with food.11

The crude resin of the mukul tree can cause a number of side effects (e.g., diarrhea, stomach aches, and rashes). The more purified extracts of the biologically active parts of guggul that are available now have fewer side effects.2

Can Guggul Cause Adverse Skin Reactions?

There have been some reports of skin rash as a side effect of oral or topical use of Guggul. A slimming cream, Tonific® Minceur, marketed by Nuxe Laboratory of France, caused an acute skin reaction in a single woman. The first rash disappeared within 10 days of stopping the cream, but resurfaced after another use of the cream. The only active ingredient which was found to cause the allergic reactions through discrete European standardized patch tests was guggul.67

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