Guggul (Commiphora wightii)
Other common names: Guggal, Mukul myrrh tree, guggulipid (product name), balsamodendrum mukul, devadhupa, bdellium tree, koushika, palankasha, balsamodendrum wightii, Commiphora mukul.
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Actions: Demulcent, antimicrobial, aperient laxative, uterine stimulant, carminative, bitter, astringent, cholagogue, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, antipyretic, steroidal anti-inflammatory, analgesic, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, digestive aid, aphrodisiac, immune system stimulant, anticancer, metabolic stimulant.
The resin is tapped from the bark as one would sap – it is taken in winter. You should never harvest guggul in its native habitat (it is sourced almost exclusively in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). It is now red-listed as an endangered plant and must only be used when harvested from a cultivated source and not from the wild.
Parts used: Resin/gum
Constituents: Guggulsterones (steroids in the resin), resin compounds, gums, volatile oils.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Used to treat swelling and other inflammation, regulate the menstrual cycle, treat skin conditions of almost any kind, impotence and low fertility, respiratory complaints, high cholesterol, low thyroid, urinary tract conditions (resins are often ideal for urinary tract health), neuralgia, whooping cough, pneumonia, nervous system disorders (especially degenerative kinds), constipation, diabetic ulcers, fever, rheumatism and other musculoskeletal pain, assists with weight loss, especially when weight appears around the abdomen due to improper metabolism of fats. It also encourages bile production by the liver.
The powdered resin (see harvest and medicinal processing above) is used in a capsule form primarily. Tincturing is possible but requires 90% alcohol to extract the constituents. The fumes of burning guggul have been used historically for treating bronchitis and hay fever, as well as laryngitis, although I would suggest a herbal steam rather than smoke, if respiratory distress is present.
Try it as a gargle and mouthwash for any kind of oral problem, including inflammation of the gums and fungal infections in the mouth/throat.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Use the powdered resin in a poultice to bring down inflammation, or in a salve or ointment to kill bacteria or fungi. It can help rheumatism and sore muscles as well as take swelling down. It is a steroidal anti-inflammatory, so those allergic to NSAIDS may be able to take guggul without a reaction.
It can also be applied as a plaster over the abdomen for everything from hiccups to digestive problems.
Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Do not use with red yeast rice, and consult a doctor if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medications. Do not use in patients undergoing cancer treatments, or with severe gallstones or kidney stones, or obstructed bile duct. If the patient has thyroid issues or is taking thyroid medications, have them consult their doctor prior to use – a physician may need to monitor the T3 and T4 hormone levels while you’re taking guggul during thyroid treatment. Use a low dose at first if you suffer from severe IBS. Patients with too much “fire” element in their energetic makeup may get a skin rash when using this very fire-oriented herb…this means you need to decrease the dose, but often does not indicate an allergic reaction.
I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.
Energetic/traditional use: The powdered herb has been used for more than 3,000 years in incense and sacred rites and fires in the same way as its close cousin myrrh has been used. It is important in Ayurvedic medicine, with warming qualities. It tends to pick up the energy levels and add a bit of extra fire.
Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.