Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cholesterol Supplement: Guggul

Guggul, short for guggulsterone (also known as gugulipid), is an extract derived from the resin of the mukul myrrh tree, which grows in India. It has more than 3,000 years of history behind it in treating a variety of medical conditions. Now add high cholesterol to the list.

In India and France gugulipid is so effective in treating high cholesterol it's considered a prescription drug. But in the United States it's still sold over the counter, often combined with other cholesterol-lowering compounds, such as garlic, niacin, and red yeast rice extract. It seems to work by enabling the liver to take in more LDL, thus lowering the amount circulating in the blood. It may also stimulate the thyroid gland, which is involved in cholesterol metabolism (hypothyroidism is a leading cause of high cholesterol).

What the research shows: In studies conducted in India, 205 people with high cholesterol took 500 milligrams of gugulipid a day. After 12 weeks 70 to 80 percent of the patients saw their cholesterol drop an average of 24 percent and their triglycerides drop an average of 22.6 percent. It took about three to four weeks before cholesterol began dropping, the researchers reported. Additionally, in 60 percent of those who responded to the gugulipid therapy, HDL levels increased.

Who should take it: Anyone with high cholesterol who is looking for an alternative to a prescription drug, particularly if your cholesterol is still in a "gray" zone in which medication isn't specifically recommended.

Recommended dose: An effective dose is 75 milligrams of guggulsterones, the active ingredient in gugulipid, taken in divided doses (25 milligrams three times a day). Read the label carefully to make sure you're getting the right dosage and a standardized product.

Warnings/contraindications: Gugulipid may interfere with some medications, such as Inderal (propranolol) and Cardizem (diltiazem). Don't take it if you have liver disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

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