There is no denying that most people crave a slim and well-toned physique. But much to our agony, obesity has become a persistent disease plaguing a whole lot of the populace, well, no thanks to the sedentary lifestyle. 

Obesity is chiefly considered a disorder of the fatty tissues and overall depreciation of body metabolism. In this condition, fat tissues in the body generally accumulate and block all the channels in the digestive system, which further causes diminished metabolism and finally leads to weight gain. Sometimes, fat accumulation in the body can increase so much that it can even block the major blood vessels in the form of cholesterol and ultimately lead to cardiac anomalies.
Guggul Benefits 

While it is extremely necessary to incorporate different forms of exercise to manage obesity, one also needs to add fat-reducing food options to their dietary regimen. Well, worry not, as Ayurveda is there for your rescue. This 5000-year-old alternative remedial science bestows mankind with a plethora of herbs, spices, minerals, herbomineral formulations, and home remedies that are quintessential for managing different health maladies. Guggul is one such extraordinary oleo-gum resin imbued with powerful Lekhaniya (scraping) and Medohara ( fat-reducing) properties.

What Is Guggul?

Guggul is a gum resin obtained from various tree species of the Burseraceae family and forms an important part of various ayurvedic formulations as it chiefly helps bind the ingredients together. Some of the major plant species that secrete Guggul in the form of plant sap include Commiphora mukul, Commiphora wightii, Commiphora gileadensis, Boswellia serrata, and Boswellia sacra, among which guggul obtained from Commiphora wightii is used majorly for preparing ayurvedic formulations. In some Ayurvedic scriptures, Guggul is also mentioned as 'Pura', which signifies 'a substance that wards off disease'. For centuries Guggul has been a part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine for the treatment and management of various health anomalies like obesity, cholesterol, arthritis, skin infections, thyroid, heart and brain abnormalities, inflammatory conditions, diabetes, respiratory woes, and kidney problems.

How To Identify Guggul Tree?

Guggul tree, a.k.a Commiphora wightii is a mediocre-sized flowering plant belonging to the Burseraceae family. Also known as the Indian bdellium tree or Mukul myrrh tree, it produces a fragrant resin known as guggul, gugal, or gugul that is chiefly used for concocting Vedic and herbal medicine and manufacturing incense.

It is a slow-growing, branched shrub that usually attains a height of 3 to 3.5 meters. It exhibits a thin, papery, greyish-brown bark with thorny branches. Leaves have sub-sessile leaflets, with the terminal one being ovate. The plant is chiefly isomorphic or bisexual, i.e., flowers have both male and female reproductive parts. Blossoms are usually 4-5 petalled and are maroonish-pink in hue. Fruits are ovate drapes of reddish colour and enclose tiny brown seeds. The Guggul tree is recognized for its gummy resin, which is tapped or harvested from its bark. 

Guggul Tree Habitat and Distribution

The Commiphora plant is widely distributed in dry and parched regions of northern Africa to Central Asia but common in the Rocky tract of western India, Eastern Himalayas, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In India, the plant is found in arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Karnataka. The plant is quite tolerant and can primarily grow in poorly-drained dry soils with less rainfall.

Types Of Guggul

According to Ayurveda, Guggul chiefly exists in nature in five different forms, which are:

  • Krishnan (black)
  • Peet Varn (Yellow)
  • Rakt (blood red) 
  • Neel (blue)
  • Kapish (light brown)

Common Names Of Guggul

Guggul is extensively used for folk remedies and incense preparation across several communities. Some of its common regional names include:

English: Indian bdellium, Gum guggul

Hindi: Guggul, Guggal Dhoop

Sanskrit: Guggulu, Padma, Kumuda, Mahanila, Mahishaksha, and Hiranaya

Tamil: Gukkulu

Telugu: Guggipannu

Kannada: Kanthagana

Bengali: Guggulu

Gujarati: Gugal

Marathi: Guggala

Phytochemical Constituents Of Guggul

Guggul or the resin obtained from Commiphora plant comprises various biochemical components. It contains steroids like guggulsterone (A, Z), guggulsterone M, dihydroguggulsterone, and guggulsterol Y, triterpenoids like myrrhanone (A, B) and myrrhanol (A, B, C), sesquiterpenoids like cardinene, and flavonoids like quercetin. The ole-resin also showcases some volatile oils like limonene, eugenol, pinene, and cineole. 

Laden with these powerful pharmacological components, Guggul exhibits potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-lipidemic, digestive, carminative, anti-lithiatic, anti-biliary, and expectorant properties, which in turn makes Guggul useful in the case of obesity, arthritis, hypercholesterolemia, urinary complaints, intestinal worms, swelling, seizures, liver problems, tumours, ulcers, sores, and heart woes.

Ayurvedic Indications Of Guggul

The holistic science of Ayurveda recognizes this plant compound as a powerful Rasayani Dravya and cited it in ancient ayurvedic scriptures of Charaka Samhita and Raj Nighantu for treating various problems, including:

  • Medohara (treats obesity)
  • Vatahara (treats arthritic)
  • Hridya (treats cardiac problems)
  • Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst),
  • Kustha (treats skin disorders), 
  • Varnya (improves complexion), 
  • Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), 
  • Swara (improves voice quality)
  • Balya (improves muscle strength), 
  • Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), 
  • Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), 
  • Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), 
  • Deepana (enhances stomach fire), 
  • Pachana (helps in digestion), 
  • Rochana (stimulates appetite), 
  • Amahara (treats indigestion)
  • Kamala (prevents jaundice), 
  • Prameha (manages diabetes),

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Health Benefits Of Guggul

Aids In Weight Loss

Weight gain usually happens due to unhealthy dietary options, no movement that causes a reduction of the digestive fire in the stomach or Agni, leading to an increase of Meda Dhatu (fat deposit) in the body. The abundance of alkaloids and flavonoids in this oleo-gum-resin compound diminishes unhealthy food cravings at odd hours and helps the body remove excess weight faster by enhancing metabolic transformation and preventing further accumulation of fats. Owing to its property to vitiate AMA doshas from the body, it effectively removes unwanted toxins from the body and increases Agni in the stomach. It also prevents the accumulation of LDL cholesterol (i.e., Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thus facilitating further weight loss.

Also Read: Ayurveda For Weight Loss: Powerful Supplements To Shed Excess Fat In No Time

Improves Cardiac Functioning

The enormous heart-healthy properties of Guggul, holds high significance in treating a host of heart anomalies. It relaxes the cardiac system, by steadying the mind, which is extremely effective for patients suffering from arrhythmias and palpitations. It is also extensively used for fortifying the heart muscles, decreasing total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein or LDL and triglycerides in the blood, and preventing lipid build-up, which in turn curtails the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, heart blocks, blood clots, cardiac arrests, etc. 

Also Read: Top 10 Superfoods For A Healthy Heart

Alleviates Pain And Inflammation

The wealth of anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and anti-arthritic properties of the bioactive components in this magical herbal compound makes it the leading choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It is also highly effective against Rheumatoid arthritis, a.k.a Amavata, and Osteoarthritis, a.k.a Shondhivata in Ayurveda, conditions that mainly arise due to the vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama or toxins in the joints and bones respectively. In addition, it also provides relief from inflammation due to muscle spasms, muscle soreness, etc.

Enhances Skin Health

The abundance of powerful antioxidants and volatile oils make Guggul a crucial compound in treating various skin issues. It effectively rides the skin of free radicals and curtails oxidative damage. Being a natural toner, it scourges away harmful AMA or toxins from the internal layers of the skin, improves overall skin health, and treats various skin infections like acne, pimples, rashes, boils, eczema, psoriasis, etc. Additionally, weekly use of Guggul paste also arrests the various signs of ageing and bestows a clear, glowing complexion. 

Augments Liver Functions

Infused with powerful hepatoprotective properties due to the presence of the alkaloid' guggulsterone', Guggul, aids in cleansing the liver of toxins and enhances overall liver health. Regular consumption of Guggul assists in the regeneration of liver cells reclaims normal liver functions and encourages bringing back liver enzymes that are high during liver disease or infections within a normal range. It is also advantageous in dealing with liver disorders like hepatitis and jaundice.

Effect On Doshas

Guggul is innately endowed with Tikta (bitter) and Katu Rasa (i.e., pungent taste). It exhibits 4 gunas namely Laghu (i.e., light), Vishada (clear body channels), Sara (mobile), and Rukshna Guna (i.e., rough quality). It naturally portrays Ushna Virya (i.e., hot potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e., pungent metabolic taste). The rough and light quality of the resin, helps it to bring vitiated Vata doshas (i.e. air) and Kapha (earth and water) dishes under control, whereas having a pungent metabolic taste, an excess intake if it can often aggravate the Pitta (fire and air) doshas. 

Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas

Therapeutic Dosage Of Guggul

The effective remedial dose of Guggul may fluctuate from person to person depending upon the age, the severity of the condition, and withstanding limit of the patient. Consultation with an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner is a must, as he or she will thoroughly examine the evidence of the condition and prescribe the accurate dosage.

Churna/ Powder: ¼ tbsp twice a day, preferably after meals alongside lukewarm water or as directed by the medical practitioner.

Gutika/ Tablet/ Capsule: 1-2 twice a day along with water after meals or as directed by the medical practitioner.

Lehyam/ Paste: Make a paste of equal quantity of Guggul powder and water and apply to the affected areas.

Side Effects Of Guggul

Though an absolute solution for a host of health abnormalities, Guggul can cause certain altered indications if taken more than the prescribed amount. The side effects are usually noticed in the form of nausea, irregular menstrual cycle, diarrhoea, and hiccups. Since Guggul slows down blood clotting, care should be taken that it is not consumed before or after a surgical procedure as it can lead to excessive bleeding. Also, excess use of Guggul can cause liver problems and even interfere with working birth control pills.

Precautions

Guggul is marked unsafe for pregnant women as it can stimulate the uterus and trigger menstrual flow leading to a sudden miscarriage or early labour pain. Additionally, without much reliable information about using Guggul during the breastfeeding period, health practitioners advise avoiding taking it without consultation with a lactation specialist.

Conclusion

Guggul is an archaic ayurvedic remedy that is vastly used for treating umpteen health crises, including obesity, arthritis, indigestion, gastritis, constipation, asthma, cough and cold, infections, ulcers, skin infections, kidney stones, lipid accumulation, etc. Imbued with potent phytochemical constituents, seek benefit from this powerful Rasayani dravya with proper doctor's guidance.