By Steven Horne
There are about eighty species in the Commiphora genus that grow from India to Greece, but two of the most well-known are guggul (C. mukul) and myrrh (C. myrrha). Both plants produce a resin that has been used both as a perfume or incense, and as a medicine.
Guggul has a long history of use in India as an aid for weight loss, as an anti-inflammatory in arthritis rheumatism, and as a remedy for skin disorders such as acne. It has also been used for neurological diseases, hemorrhoids and water retention.
Guggul is promoted in the West primarily as a remedy for helping to lower cholesterol and aid the circulatory system. Research done in India has suggested that the herb may be beneficial for reducing overall cholesterol, lowering LDL and raising HDL. It contains compounds called guggulsterones that inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. These compounds also appear to inhibit cholesterol from oxidizing.
In spite of this promising research, tests done in the Western world have not confirmed guggulís ability to lower cholesterol. In one study, guggul raised LDL levels. Guggul does benefit the circulatory system in other ways, however.
It appears to have antiplatelet and anticoagulant activity, so it would inhibit the formation of blood clots in the circulatory system. Because of this, caution should be used when taking guggul with aspirin, NSAIDs and blood thinners.
Guggul may also help to lower lipoprotein (a) and C-reactive protein, two blood factors known to have a link with inflammation and heart disease. Because of these benefits, it is clear that guggul can be a valuable aid in preventing heart disease.
One of the common uses for guggul in India is to aid in weight loss. Part of the reason why guggul may be helpful here is because it acts as a thyroid stimulant. It appears to increase the conversion of T4, the storage form of the thyroid hormone, into T3, the active form. This would increase metabolism and the burning of fat in the body, including helping to lower triglycerides.
Guggul extracts have a definite anti-inflammatory action. A triterpene called myrrhanol A was discovered in guggul that has potent anti-inflammatory effects. This would account for its use in arthritis and rheumatism. For this reason, guggul is an ingredient in the Ayurvedic Joint Support formula.
Myrrh has a definite disinfectant action and it appears that guggul has antibacterial action as well. Guggulís activity against acne was comparable to tetracycline. It decreased the inflammation in acne and decreased relapses in those who used it. It reduces the secretion of sebum and inhibits bacteria from metabolizing the fats (triglycerides) in the oil ducts.
Which brings us to myrrh. Myrrh actually has many of the same benefits as guggul. It may help with cholesterol regulation and the prevention of heart disease. It can also be helpful in weight loss. It is a very good bitter digestive tonic.
I like myrrh as a natural antiseptic and infection fighter. I think it is more effective than goldenseal in fighting infection. Itís an ingredient in Lymph Gland Cleanse, a great formula for fighting low-grade infections, and in CC-A and All Cell Detox. Itís also an ingredient in both Black Ointment and Golden Salve, lending its infection-fighting properties to both salves.
NSP sells the essential oil of myrrh, which I find to be a very grounding fragrance. I believe it really helps boost the immune system and promote a sense of self-esteem and well-being.
Suggested use for NSPís guggul lipids is 1-2 tablets three times daily. Myrrh oil should primarily be used topically as it is too strong and potentially toxic for internal use. Guggul lipids should be avoided during pregnancy and by people who bleed easily. Myrrh oil is very safe for topical use.