Gugulipid is a natural remedy that is extracted from the sticky resinous sap secreted from the bark of the Commiphora tree. This small thorny tree is also known as Commiphora Wightii, Mukul Myrrh, Guggal or Guggul. The Commiphora tree is common in northern India and is also infrequently found from northern Africa to central Asia. It prefers arid and semi-arid climates and can acclimate to poor soil.
Gugulipid’s healing qualities were recognized centuries ago and have been part of the ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Hindu system of medicine for over 2500 years. Considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. Literature for these medical practices appeared as encyclopedias of medicine compiled from literature dating from mid-first millennium BC to about 500 AD. Guggul is mentioned in original Sanskrit verse from the Atharva Veda text which incorporates much of the early traditions of healing.
Gugulipid has been traditionally used alone or combined with other herbs for the treatment of a variety of ailments including rheumatism, arthritis, skin diseases, pains in the nervous system, obesity and urinary disorders.
Pioneering work in India on Guggul’s effect on lipid metabolism in the 1960s resulted in further studies which identified it’s hypolipidedmic (cholesterol-lowering) properties. In 1988 guggulipid was first available on the Indian market as a hypolipidaemic agent.
Gugulipid was granted approval in India for marketing as a lipid-lowering drug in June 1986. Studies show that it lowers total cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol), while elevating HDL-cholesterol levels (Agarwal RC, 1986 and Nityanand S, 1989). It appears that guggulsterones increase the uptake of LDL-cholesterol from the blood by the liver. Studies in humans demonstrate that guggulsterone can produce a cholesterol reduction of 14 percent to 27 percent in 4-12 weeks, and a 22 percent to 30 percent drop in blood triglyceride levels, in patients with hypercholesterolemia and/or hypertriglyceridemia.
In experimental animal models, gum guggul demonstrate 20 percent of the anti-inflammatory potency as hydrocortisone, and the equivalent anti-inflammatory potency as phyenylbutazone and ibuprofen.10 In ayurvedic medicine, gum guggul has been used for this purpose, but no well-controlled trials on humans are available to firmly establish its application in the treatment of arthritic and other inflammatory joint conditions.
The lipid-lowering effect of gum guggul may help control cystic acne, according to one of its traditional applications by ayurvedic practitioners. One small clinical trial tested gum guggul against the antibiotic tetracycline for the treatment of cystic acne. Results showed that gum guggul compared favorably in its effects to outcomes realized by patients treated with tetracycline.
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