Guggulipid Does Not Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Guggulipid has no beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2003;290:765–72).
Guggul is an extract from the resin of the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul). Guggulipid is the name given to the preparation of guggul standardized to contain a specified amount of guggulsterones, the components believed to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Several animal and human studies have found that guggulipid can reduce cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, "bad") cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Preliminary studies performed in India have reported an 11% reduction in total cholesterol levels, a 12% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels, and a 15% reduction in triglycerides. In these studies, 60 to 80% of participants experienced significant reductions in these levels after using guggulipid. Guggulipid is commonly used in India to treat high cholesterol levels and has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years.
The current eight-week study was performed in the United States. Participants included 85 men and women with untreated high cholesterol levels but no other health problems. The participants were randomly divided into three groups: a placebo group, a group receiving 1,000 mg of guggulipid three times per day (a standard amount), and a group receiving 2,000 mg of guggulipid three times per day. All of the participants were instructed to eat their usual diets during the trial.
At the end of the study, total cholesterol levels had not changed significantly in any group. Levels of LDL cholesterol, however, had increased by 5% in the group receiving the standard amount of guggulipid and by 7% in the group receiving the higher amount, while a decrease of 5% was seen in the placebo group. Based on these results, 51% of those receiving either amount of guggulipid had an adverse response, while only 18% had a beneficial response and 31% had no response. Nonetheless, two beneficial effects of guggulipid treatment were observed: a significant decrease in triglycerides (14%) was seen in participants receiving either amount of guggulipid whose LDL cholesterol levels were highest (160 mg per deciliter or greater) at the beginning of the trial; in addition, a significant decrease of 28% in C-reactive protein (CRP, a chemical marker of inflammation in the body that has been linked to increased risk of heart disease) was found in the group receiving the higher amount of guggulipid, while CRP levels increased by 25% in the placebo group and did not change in the group receiving the standard amount of guggulipid.
The results of this study suggest that guggulipid does not reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol levels who are eating a Western diet. Further research is needed to clarify whether or not guggulipid enhances the effects of specific cholesterol-lowering diets or habits. The possible benefits of reduced CRP levels in people taking a high amount of guggulipid need further evaluation.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, Vermont, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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