How effective are gugulipid supplements?

Spencer D. Kroll, MD
Internal Medicine
Gugulipids are an herbal supplement purified from Commiphora wightii, which is the flower of the Guggul myrrh tree.  Guggul extract is an ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine.  The extract of the flower, called guggulipd, is the steroid guggulsterone, which is an antagonist of the farnesoid X receptor.  Thus guggulipid is thought to reduce cholesterol synthesis in the liver.  
Several studies have shown that there are no changes in total cholesterol levels wuith gugulipid suplementation and an actual increase in low density lipoprotein (LDL) can occur.  
The Guggul myrrh tree is endangered through overuse:  Cultivation for lipid therapy is discouraged, especially because this particular natural medicine does not work.  Furthermore, this supplement may adversely interact with other medicine.  Other claims regarding the supplement and its weight loss properties have also not been proven.  
Shannon Butler
Nutrition & Dietetics

Guggulipid is an extract from the guggul tree, which can be found in India and Pakistan. Historically, it has been used to relieve arthritis, sore throats, and leprosy. More recently it has been claimed in the media to reduce cholesterol levels, treat acne and aid in weight loss.

Currently, there is not sufficient evidence to prove that guggulipid is effective in any of the aforementioned health claims. In 2003, a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial showed that guggulipid actually increased LDL cholesterol levels by 4-5% compared with the placebo. A study done in mice showed that guggulipid may be effective in treating hypothyroidism, but there is currently no human data to support these claims.

Guggulipids are known to interact with some prescription medications, including thyroid medications, cancer and HIV medications and acetaminophen (tylenol). If taking any of these medications, guggulipids should be avoided.

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