Guggul has a long history of use in India as an aid for weight loss, as an anti-inflammatory in arthritis rheumatism, and as a remedy for skin disorders such as acne. It has also been used for neurological diseases, hemorrhoids and water retention.
Guggul is promoted in the West primarily as a remedy for helping to lower cholesterol and aid the circulatory system. Research done in India has suggested that the herb may be beneficial for reducing overall cholesterol, lowering LDL and raising HDL. It contains compounds called guggulsterones that inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. These compounds also appear to inhibit cholesterol from oxidizing.
In spite of this promising research, tests done in the Western world have not confirmed guggul’s ability to lower cholesterol. In one study, guggul raised LDL levels. Guggul does benefit the circulatory system in other ways, however.
It appears to have antiplatelet and anticoagulant activity, so it would inhibit the formation of blood clots in the circulatory system. Because of this, caution should be used when taking guggul with aspirin, NSAIDs and blood thinners.
Guggul may also help to lower lipoprotein (a) and C-reactive protein, two blood factors known to have a link with inflammation and heart disease. Because of these benefits, it is clear that guggul can be a valuable aid in preventing heart disease.
One of the common uses for guggul in India is to aid in weight loss. Part of the reason why guggul may be helpful here is because it acts as a thyroid stimulant. It appears to increase the conversion of T4, the storage form of the thyroid hormone, into T3, the active form. This would increase metabolism and the burning of fat in the body, including helping to lower triglycerides.
Guggul extracts have a definite anti-inflammatory action. A triterpene called myrrhanol A was discovered in guggul that has potent anti-inflammatory effects. This would account for its use in arthritis and rheumatism. For this reason, guggul is an ingredient in the Ayurvedic Joint Support formula.
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