Guggul (Commiphora Mukul) refers to the gum resin or sap of the Bdellium Tree or Mukul myrrh tree found in the semi-arid regions of western India. The plant stem and bark of the tree secretes a yellowish-brown sap rich in oleo-gum resin.
This extracted resin is called guggul (or Guggulu in Ayurveda). It has been used for centuries in Ayurveda as a Rasayana and a medicinal herb. Guggul is said to have potent therapeutic benefits, especially for the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. It is either used individually as an Ayurvedic herb or may be used in other tablets as a binding agent.
Types Of Guggul
Guggul is traditionally classified into two types: Nava and Purana. Nava means new, less than one year old. This fresh resin is relatively sticky/oily and categorizes as an aphrodisiac. As the guggulu ages past one year, it becomes Purana (old), and its guna (characteristics) change to become light, dry, and easy to digest. Guggulu changes color and qualities as it ages and retains its therapeutic potency for up to 20 years.
This article is based on the health benefits of guggul that is Purana (old) guggul.
Guggulu, the Sanskrit name of guggul, translates to “protection against diseases.” Guggulu is an Ayurvedic Rasayana (rejuvenating tonic) best known for its medicinal properties on the muscles, joints, and skeletal system. This resin is a vital part of Ayurvedic medicine and works as a vehicle for transporting other herbs to deep tissues. A whole sub-class of Ayurvedic herbal formulations is based around guggul.
Guggulu powder has anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and wound healing properties. Traditionally, this gum resin helps atherosclerosis (stiff arteries), arthritis, and various skin diseases. Ayurveda associates guggul with svarya, which improves the texture and quality of our voice, making it an herb of choice for singers in India.
Health Benefits Of Guggul
Anti-inflammatory: Guggul is commonly helps to treat various inflammation-related disorders. Scientific research also indicates that short-term use has no side effects (less than three months). While guggulu is tridoshic, it is beneficial for reducing Vata problems – many of which lead to inflammation and associated diseases and disorders.
Cardiovascular Health: Ayurveda recommends the regular use of guggulu to maintain healthy cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart diseases. It helps regulate cholesterol levels and has exemplary scraping properties. It can help erode blockages, eliminate toxins, and improve metabolism. Scientific research indicates that guggulu has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering properties (antilipidemic). If taken with a balanced diet, it can reduce LDL levels and prevent blockages in the arteries.
Digestion: The long-term use of guggulu can improve digestion and endurance. It is a deepam – the one that rekindles the digestive fire. In doing so, it promotes a good appetite and regulates weight. In Ayurveda, it is associated with movement. Therefore, it moves waste and eliminates toxins from the body.
Muscle/Bones/Joints: Guggulu impacts the muscular and skeletal systems. It can improve healing and reduce pain related to ligaments, bones, muscles, and joints. In Ayurveda, using guggulu is one of the most effective ways to improve the condition of patients suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also a part of Ayurvedic formulations like Lakshadi Guggul to treat dislocated and broken bones.
Joint problems are due to excess Vata in the body, and guggul is reputed to be the best Ayurvedic herb to balance Vata dosha. Best to consume with warm water. Topical application helps inflamed joints to manage pain and relieve excess Vata. This application can also improve the healing rate of fractured bones.
Guggul For Skin
Guggul treats skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. The topical application can also help treat acne, warts, abscesses, infected wounds, and other skin problems. A study found that guggulsterone, an ingredient of guggul, was as effective as common antibiotics used to treat severe acne.
Other known health benefits of guggulu include:
- Used in Ayurvedic formulations to treat hypothyroidism
- Has anti-aging properties
- It can be used to treat intestinal worms
- Used in medicines to treat Goiter and hemorrhoids
- Impedes the growth of warts and tumors
- Helpful in the treatment of problems related to the urinary system
- Hepatoprotective properties – Protects the liver.
Who should avoid taking guggulu?
As per Ayurveda, avoid guggul if you are pregnant or nursing.
People with bleeding disorders, upset stomach, and diarrhea should avoid guggul. If you are using blood thinners, anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs or any medical treatment for thyroid related problems then consult your healthcare provider before using guggul.
Hormone-sensitive people should also avoid it as it mimics the properties of estrogen in the human body. This refers to conditions worsened by exposure to estrogen – like uterine fibroids and breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Lastly, consuming contraceptive drugs and guggulu will have undesirable interactions.
Is guggul safe? Does guggul have any side effects?
When taken in the recommended dosage, adults do not have any side effects. It has shown no adverse effects in studies ranging up to 75 weeks of daily use. However, a high dosage of guggulu (6000mg or more per day) – may lead to nausea and an upset stomach.
Although it is rare, some people may be allergic to guggul. Any signs of skin rash or itching after taking guggulu indicate an allergic reaction. Do not continue taking it if you experience these symptoms.
Common Ayurvedic Uses of Guggulu
Guggul Paste: Add half a teaspoon of Guggulu powder to warm water and apply topically on a sore muscle or aching joint and let it remain for 2 hours before you wash it off. This application helps relieve muscle soreness and manage joint pain.
Triphala Guggul: This classic combination is a longstanding Ayurvedic blend of two herbs with excellent detoxification properties. Triphala and Guggulu cleanse and promote the elimination of waste in the body. In addition, Triphala guggul supports digestion and removes ama (toxins) from the body.
Rinse or Gargling: You can add two pinches of Guggulu powder to a glass of warm water. Use this water to gargle or as it is after brushing. Guggul is good for oral health. It cleanses the oral cavity’s teeth, gums, and mucous membranes.
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Guggulu – Guggul comes from the resin of the Commiphora Mukul, a small thorny tree known as myrrh.