Guggul: The Oleoresin To Prevent Diseases

You are currently viewing Guggul: The Oleoresin To Prevent Diseases

Last updated on May 13th, 2023 at 05:56 am

Traditional medicine systems like Native American, African, Kampo, and Ayurveda focus mainly on holistic healing and used natural remedies combined with lifestyle changes to treat an illness. These natural remedies were often plant-based and used products such as Guggul or Guggulu. Guggul is a natural resin used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health conditions and has been claimed to have several benefits.

In this report, we will discuss what Guggul is. How does it work? The benefits of Guggul for you, and how it can help in the treatment of health conditions like high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, atherosclerosis, inflammatory conditions, skin conditions, obesity, and fertility issues.

What is Guggul?

Guggul is a plant-based oleoresin that is derived from a tree known as the Indian bdellium tree or Commiphora wightii which comes under the family Burseraceae. It is native to semi-arid regions of the Indian subcontinent and grows well in harsh low moisture regions and can be found in some regions of western Africa. In the wild Commiphora wightii has become scarce due to overharvesting and is listed as a threatened species on IUCN Red List.

The gum resin of guggul is harvested by tapping Commiphora wightii plants, which are usually more than a decade old. The white gum is then allowed to dry naturally over a period of one year to get its final form which is used for several purposes including as a fragrant. Guggul resin is similar to myrrh and frankincense resins which too are used for their fragrance.

“Guggul” in Sanskrit means “to protect from disease”, and it is known for its medicinal properties that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. In fact, Guggul finds its mention 2600 years ago in the Sushruta Samhita, which is one of the fundamental textbooks of Ayurveda.

Apart from Ayurveda, guggul is also used in Chinese traditional medicine as well as in Unani which is based on Hippocrates’s Ionian medicine system. In some ancient sources such as Pliny’s Natural History, Guggul is referred to as Bdellium, and Pliny identifies Bactria (northern regions of current Afghanistan) as the best place to source Bdellium from.
“Guggul” is sometimes used as a collective term for the resins obtained from both the Commiphora wightii and Boswellia serrata trees. The resin produced by Boswellia tree is called salai guggul which has a greenish hue and contains Boswellic acids.

Chemical composition of Guggul

Guggul gum and resin contain several important dietary nutrients along with some medicinal compounds which give guggul its healing properties. One of the most important and bioactive compounds found in guggul is guggulsterones, which are a group of steroids and have a unique structure.

Chemical composition of the guggul tree changes depending on the part of the plant. The leaves and the fruit are rich in quinic acid which gives guggul fruits an astringent property that tightens the skin.

The oleoresin of guggul contains:

  • Guggulsterones: Z-guggulsterone, E-guggulsterone, M-guggulsterone, Dehydroguggulsterone-M
  • Guggulsterols: Guggulsterol-I, Guggulsterol-II, Guggulsterol-III, Guggulsterol-IV, Guggulsterol-V
  • Terpenes: Myrrhanol A, Myrrhanone A, Myrrhanone B, Z- and E-guggulsterones, I-VIIEpoxy-guggulsterone, Lupeol.
  • Flavanones: Quercetin, Kaempferol, Myricetin
  • Sterols: β-sitosterol, Campesterol, Stigmasterol
  • Essential oils: Myrcene
  • Ketonic steroid esters
  • Guggulipid
  • Ferulates
  • Lignans
  • Minerals

Guggul Benefits

Guggul, a natural substance that has been used for centuries for its health benefits in many cultures, is commonly used in traditional medicine to treat various health conditions such as liver dysfunction, malignant sores, intestinal worms, edema, sinus issues, internal tumors, leucoderma, and obesity.

It has recently been studied mainly for its anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic properties due to the increasing interest in holistic healing methods. However, guggul has been shown to have other health benefits as well.

Guggul for Diabetes-Induced Health Issues

Diabetes is one of the most common non-communicable diseases which affects more than 500 million individuals around the world. According to the world health organization diabetes is one of the leading causes of organ failure. Diabetes often causes high triglyceride levels along with insulin resistance in organs which might cause organ failure, if not controlled.

Guggulsterones is One of the active constituents of guggul resin and it has been studied for its effect on diabetes-related high triglyceride levels in patients who suffer from type-2 diabetes.

In a study with more than 50 diabetes patients, salai guggul from Boswellia serrata not only reduced triglyceride levels but also decreased low-density lipoproteins “bad cholesterol”, liver enzymes, and fructosamine (a blood glucose marker). However, it is important to note that these beneficial effects of guggul have not been established for long-term usage.

In another study on an animal model, guggulsterone reduced the risk of increased serum glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in rats who were given a high-fat diet for 16 weeks. Additionally, it was observed that guggulsterone improved the activity of the PPAR gamma protein which assists in the metabolism of insulin and lipids. This effect of guggulsterone may increase insulin sensitivity in the body.

Guggulsterones show anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic properties, as well as cytoprotective properties against diabetes-induced organ damage, and can be used as an adjunctive therapy. However, guggul and its effects on the treatment of diabetes are not fully understood and require further research.

Guggul for Weight Loss

There is not just one reason why we gain weight or why even after eating less we don’t seem to be losing those extra pounds. However, one of the major factors which cause weight gain is our sedentary lifestyle where we consume foods that contain dietary additives that are low in nutrients and high in calories.

Guggulsterrones present in guggul resing have been found to promote weight loss by reducing hunger. In a research study conducted on an animal model guggelsterones were observed to reduce plasma ghrelin, glucose, and triglyceride levels and increased plasma leptin, serotonin, and dopamine levels.

Ghrelin and leptin are hunger-regulating hormones. When the level of leptin increases along with serotonin and dopamine levels, it may result in a reduced feeling of hunger.

Hypothyroidism is another factor for weight gain, which disproportionately affects females and makes it difficult for patients to lose weight easily.
In a study on female mice, the effects of guggelsterones show a positive result in the management of hypothyroidism. Guggelsterones positively regulated thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyronine(T3), hepatic 5′ mono-deiodinase, and hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase in the blood which not only prevented the progression of the disease but also demonstrated to be liver-protective.

Guggul for Inflammation

Inflammation can cause several health issues including arthritis, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, psoriasis, eczema, and acne. One of the major health benefits of guggul is its wide-ranging anti-inflammatory properties as it not only contains guggulsterones but flavonoids like quercetin as well.

Guggulsterone prevents blood clot formation and reduces the activation of vascular smooth muscle cells caused by the inflammatory cytokine TNF-ALPHA, making it a potential therapy for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and psoriasis which have a heightened risk of thrombosis. In vivo, experiments show that it can prevent clotting in the carotid artery and might prevent cell damage caused by clotting.

Salai guggul obtained from the Boswellia serrata tree is rich in boswellic acid and has been used as an anti-inflammatory for skin conditions. In some research, it was observed that treatment with skin creams containing boswellic acid showed a therapeutic effect on skin conditions like acne, scars, and radiation injury. Additionally, bosewellic acid was found to have little to no side effects, unlike conventional drugs.

Guggul for Oxidative stress

Free radical-induced oxidative stress leads to cell damage and inflammation which might lead to organ damage and several chronic health conditions which causes heart, brain, lung, and digestive issues if not controlled. Guggulsterones and flavones which are present in guggul are known anti-oxidants and have been part of several pieces of research.

Guggulsterones prevent lipid peroxidation caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS). This protects the cell membrane from damage and stops the production of interleukin-6 and TNF-α which are pro-inflammatory cytokines. Guggul when taken along with Inulin and other dietary nutrients has been shown to prevent oxidative stress caused by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity which are symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

In animal models, guggul has been observed to prevent oxidative stress-induced brain injury and can be used as an adjunct therapy for ischemic stroke. In a study, it was observed that Z-guggulsterone inhibited the inflammatory activity of the TXNIP/NLRP3 (Thioredoxin Interacting Protein/NLR Family Pyrin Domain Containing 3) axis. Oxidative stress causes TXNIP to bind with anti-oxidant thioredoxin which limits the body’s ability to neutralize ROS. The binding of thioredoxin leads to the upregulation of the NLPR3 inflammasome. Chronic upregulation of inflammasomes leads to cell and organ damage and may cause type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The anti-oxidative properties of guggul may prevent or control free radical-induced organ damage. However, it is important to know that it must not be considered a cure for any condition as most research only supports its use as an adjunct therapy for several health conditions.

Where to Find Guggul?

The best source of guggul resin is the guggul tree and if you have access to the guggul gum then you can prepare your own resin and use it in many different ways. However, most of us would have to buy it from an herbal medicine store.

Guggul Powder/Extract

The oleoresin of guggul is used to make guggul extract by dissolving the resin in a solvent such as ethanol which allows the bioactive components of guggul to be separated from the gum. This extract is then used to make guggul supplements, which can be in the form of:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Powder
  • Creams
  • Tincture

It is important to buy guggul supplements from a trusted source as in some chemical analyses it has been found that guggul is mixed with other plant resins which might cause liver toxicity.

Guggal Dosage

Guggul is used as a dietary supplement and is not classified as an essential nutrient. Therefore, the dosage of guggul varies depending on factors including age, health condition, and recommendation by the health care practitioner.

However, if you want to use guggul for its health benefits or as an adjunct therapy, we have compiled dosages based on research studies.

Guggul for general health benefits25 – 100 mg/day
Guggul for weight loss400 mg/kg of body weight
Guggul for hypothyroidism200 mg/kg of body weight
Guggul for Oxidative stress24 mg/ day
Guggul for Cholesterol1000 mg/day

Please note that these values are for bioactive components extracted from guggul and not for guggul resin as a whole, based on your requirement you might need more than the amount mentioned.

  • *1: Based on an animal model which translates to about 30 grams of guggulsterones for an average weight of 154 pounds or 70 kilograms.
  • *2:Based on an animal model which translates to about 14 grams of guggulsterones for an average weight of 154 pounds or 70 kilograms.

Guggul Side effects

Guggul is generally well-tolerated and is not known to cause severe side effects however some individuals might experience:

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Diarrhea, Nausea, Belching, Hiccups.
  • Neurological: Headache
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Allergic reactions, including swelling and difficulty breathing
  • Liver toxicity
  • Arrhythmia
  • Low blood sugar

Drug interaction warningMight interfere with blood-thinning medications.


Guggul is a resin derived from the Indian bdellium tree, which is found in the semi-arid regions of the Indian subcontinent. This resin has been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, Unani, and traditional Chinese medicine for its healing properties. To get the guggul oleoresin, the trees, which are usually more than ten years old, are tapped and the gum resin is left to dry naturally for a year which is then sold as guggul or salai guggul.
Guggul resin has a complex chemical composition, including guggulsterones, sterols, terpenes, flavanones, sterols, essential oils, ketonic steroid esters, guggulipid, ferulates, lignans, and trace minerals. Studies have shown that guggul has anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, and anti-diabetic properties, and can have other health benefits as well.
Guggul can be a supportive treatment for certain health issues when used appropriately. To safeguard guggul plants from disappearing, multiple conservation initiatives are ongoing. By obtaining guggul from these sources, you can contribute to its conservation efforts.