Traditional Uses and Contemporary Significance
has a long history of use in Ayurveda. The Atharva Veda, one of the four
well-known holy scriptures (Vedas) of the Hindus, is the earliest reference to the
medicinal and therapeutic properties of guggul. Detailed descriptions regarding the
actions, uses, and indications as well as the varieties of guggul have been described in
the Ayurvedic treatises, Charaka (1000 B.C.), Sushruta Samhita (600
B.C.), and Vagbhata (7th century A.D.). In addition, various Nighantus
(medical lexicons) were written between the 12th and 14th centuries
A.D. that were based on the Ayurvedic literature.
Original Sanskrit verse from Atharva Veda that
refers to the medicinal values of guggul.
Translation for Sanskrit verse:
("Yakshma" (disease), it cannot appear in sun light. Guggulu is the best
medicine, because it develops through the rays of hot sun on specific circumstances.
Guggulu has an aromatic odour.
It removes the disease,
like that of a deer that runs away on seeing the horse. A mixture of Guggulu and common
salt remove the disease along with their complications.)
Original Sanskrit verse from the Sushruta Samhita
(Rasa (Digestive juice/chyle) is
responsible for either obese or slim body. Six types of Rasa's are described in the
A person who consumes Kaphaz
diet (heavy, oily or fatty food such as meat, fish poultry and sweets), over eating,
excessive sleeping and lack of exercise will lead to the development of 'Ama'(non-pathogenic
abdominal disturbances) of sweet taste is produced in the body and develops obesity. This 'Amarasa'
is more sticky (i.e., oily) in nature, which creates obesity.
Short breath, thirst,
hunger, sleep, sweating, foul odour from the body, tiredness and unclear voice are
characteristics of obesity. This patient will not be able to discharge his routine
systematic work due to delicate system Medha or adipose tissue/ hyperlipidemia and kapha
blocks the channels that supply the reproductive tissue or the reproductive system (sukravahasrotas)
as a result he will develop impotence. He will be less immune due to the obstruction of
other systems (srotas). Important diseases that occur in obese persons are pramehapeedika
(carbuncle, diabetic foot ulcers), fever, fistula, tumors and other types of
neurological disorders. They may die by one of the above mentioned diseases. In obese
people all diseases are complicated. Disease symptoms are seen before the channels are
blocked and hence, those who has the tendency to become hyperlipidemic, have to give up
the consumption of hyperlipidemic diet and regularise their other habits.
For the treatment of
obesity, Sushrutha stated that guggulu, shilajit, triphala, (containing equal
amount of fruit powders of Terminalaia chebula, T. bellerica and Emblica
officinalis), Lohabhasma (purified and micronized iron as per ayurvedic
system), Rasayan (particular ayurvedic preparations) honey, barley, green gram, millets,
etc., have to be included in the diet, which are responsible for reducing fat. Physical
exercise should be practiced daily.)
The list of traditional uses for guggulu
is extensive. It has been indicated for healing bone fracture to inflammation, arthritis,
cardiovascular conditions, obesity, and lipid disorders. Several other external and
internal uses for guggul have been described in folklore and ethnomedicine as well.
Although, several therapeutic uses were indicated for guggul, the Indian gum resin was
mainly used for treating various types of arthritis. Ayurvedic physicians extensively used
guggul for treating arthritis and related conditions for centuries.
Research regarding gugguls use as a
hypolipidemic agent did not begin until 1964. It is said that Satyavati and Dwarakanath
were inspired to investigate gugguls lipid-lowering properties based on the strong
analogy between the ancient concept of medoroga in the Sushruta Samhita (600
B.C.) and the modern concept of the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and its fatal
complications. Preclinical and clinical studies were conducted over a period of two years
to investigate gugguls lipid-lowering properties. The following results were
- In cholesterol-induced hyperlipidemic rabbits, an aqueous
extract of crude gum guggul significantly lowered the serum cholesterol, phospholipids as
well as protected against atherosclerosis (at the fatty streak stage).
- The gum resin reduced the body-weight of animals.
- Significant reductions in serum cholesterol levels were
observed in obese and hypercholesterolemic patients using crude gum guggul.
These studies resulted in the publication
Satyavatis doctoral thesis titled "Effect of an indigenous drug on disorders of
lipid metabolism with special reference to atherosclerosis and obesity (medoroga)"
that was submitted to Banaras Hindu University (BHU). This pioneering work, published in
1966, provoked much interest among Indian scientists at BHU and institutions elsewhere. A
number of preclinical and clinical studies were undertaken on gum guggul with emphasis on
it hypolipidemic and related properties. These were soon followed by phytochemical and
pharmacognostic studies. Finally in 1988, gugulipid was available as a
hypolipidemic agent on the Indian market.
statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease"