Guggul: A red-listed herb
Guggul is an oleo-gum-resin extracted from Commiphora wightii (Guggul). It is called Commiphora Mukul. Guggul is a well-known herb whose resin has been used for ages. It is a flowering plant that is widely distributed in Central parts of Asia and North Africa. It is a versatile herb that is used for treating a number of diseases. In this article, I will explain some facts, uses, doses, and other necessary things related to Guggul.
What is Guggul and how is it extracted?
Guggul is a Sanskrit name which means “to protect against diseases”. The drug got its name because it is used in many medications and cures several diseases. It is a resin, which is formed from the sap of the Indian Bdellium tree which is commonly known as Guggul. It also contains several essential oils like limonene, eugenol, and cineol. The aromatic exudate is extracted by making a small cut in the bark of the Guggul tree. The sap is collected when it dries out. Months of May to June are favorable for its gathering.
Guggul is bitter, sharp, firming, and sweet in taste and is always used after purification. It needs to be purified because it contains dust and other foreign particles. The purification not only enhances its medicinal properties but also detoxifies it. Its formulations are made with purified Guggul along with other herbs.
Varieties of Guggul
Depending upon the colour and age of Guggul, it can be categorized into two categories:
- Nav (New) Guggul – New Guggul is golden-yellow in colour. It has a good fragrance and is oily, sticky and slimy in touch. It resembles ripe Jamun (Syzygium cumini) fruit.
- Puran (Old) Guggul – Old Guggul is dry and has a foul odour. It’s different from its original state and colour.
In an Ayurvedic text book, other 5 varieties of Guggul are also mentioned. (Ref: Bhavprakash Nighantu) These are:
Benefits of Guggul
Guggul is considered to be one of the most essential and precious herbs in Ayurveda. It has incredible healing properties and has great penetrating qualities. Because of this property, it is also considered as ‘Yogwahi’, which means that it is capable of carrying substances deep inside the body tissues. It also cleans the toxins present in our body and clears the blocked channels as well. When used with other herbs, it acts as a rejuvenator too.
Effects on the doshas
It helps in balancing the aggravated Vata and Kapha. Generally, it pacifies all the doshas but should be taken with precaution in Pitta dominant people and diseases.
Other benefits include:
- Purifies blood, detoxifies the body and helps in rejuvenation.
- Tonifies the skin.
- Helps in reducing weight.
- Helps in regulating menstruation.
- Also, helps in wound healing.
- Improves the quality of voice and its strength.
- Provides good support to the immune system.
- Effective in treating ulcers, inflammation of joints, tumors, kidney, liver, and urinary diseases.
- Useful in piles and thyroid.
- Strengthens bones and joints and is therefore useful in quick healing of fractured and dislocated bones.
- Can be used in treating dementia and other similar issues.
- Laboratory tests on mice also prove its effectiveness in treating Diabetes.
- Helps to suppress redness and inflammation in acne and thus provides glow to the skin.
- Enhances the digestive fire (agni).
- Also used as a fumigator. It can be used as a fumigating agent in combination with other drugs like neem, turmeric, and Cedarwood powder.
How to use Guggul?
You can use Guggul for internal as well as external purposes. But be sure that you are using its purified form.
Internal Use – Lepa (Paste) of Guggul can be applied over affected parts to reduce inflammation. It can be used externally if you want healthy skin.
External Use – You can use Guggul for Gandoosh and Kaval. Gandoosh and Kaval are the methods of Oil pulling. In CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine), this procedure involves swishing oil in the mouth for oral and systemic health benefits. Guggul protects your gums and teeth.
Commonly Available formulations and their uses
Each of the medication contains Guggul as its main content. However, the quantity of Guggul may vary. Also, other herbs are incorporated herein these medications:
- Triphala Guggul – Triphla is its main content. Its properties include rejuvenation and detoxification.
Use – It balances all the three doshas and is extensively used for weight reduction. Other benefit includes the proper working of Agni (digestive fire).
- Yograj Guggul – It pacifies the excessive Vata in the body. Other than Guggul, it is enriched with triphla, pippalli and other herbs.
Use – This preparation of Guggul acts on musculoskeletal system and reduces the stiffness, swelling and pain present in the joints. It also acts as appetizer. Moreover, it is also a toxic remover and helps in rejuvenation.
- Kanchnar Guggul – This medication of Guggul along with other herbs like Kanchnar, Triphla and others works on Kapha imbalance.
Use – It helps in suppressing aggravated Kapha levels. This medication is useful in treating hypothyroidism, joint pains, PCOS and other hormonal imbalances.
- Kaishore Guggul – Giloy, triphala and trikatu are its main contents. This formulation basically treats the imbalanced Pitta dosha.
Use – It provides nourishment to musculoskeletal system and provides strength. Thus, it helps in overall proper functioning of muscles, joints and tissues.
- Gokshuradi Guggul – This pacifies all three doshas. Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris) is its main content. Gokshur is a herb that has great therapeutic effects on kidney and urinary system.
Use – It acts as anti-lithiatic and anti-inflammatory drug. Apart from this, it is also a good analgesic and a detoxifier. It helps in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Punarnavadi Guggul – The main contents include punarnava, triphala and trikatu. It is a good drug that maintains our doshas. It mainly acts on Kapaha dosha and removes excess of it.
Use – Has wonderful effects on urinary tract infections, is a diuretic, anti-inflammatory and acts on hyperlipidemia. It also maintains the healthy fluid levels in the body and is a hepato, cardio protector too.
- Simhnad Guggul – It balances the Vata and Kapha doshas but can aggravate Pitta if accumulated in excess.
Use – It removes natural toxins from blood, joints and gastrointestinal tract. It also nourishes and provides strength to your joints.
Some more formulations are:
- Lakshadi Guggul – used to heal fractures and dislocation of joints.
- Amrutadi Guggul – used in treating fistula and carbuncles.
- Panchtikta Guggul ghrit – used to heal wounds and abscess.
There are much more medications that contain Guggul and are used to treat multiple diseases.
Dose of Guggul
The dosage may vary from person to person depending on age, Prakriti type and the disease. It also varies in the form of Guggul you are taking. For example, the dose of ghrit (ghee) will be different from that of tablets.
However, dose varies between 125mg – 1g.
When not to take Guggul?
- Should not be taken by pregnant and lactating mothers.
- Should not be taken if you have a sensitive stomach. It worsens the gastritis.
- Should be taken under prescription in case of increased Pitta dosha.
- It is inadvisable for people with bleeding disorders as it has a tendency to suppress blood clotting.
- If you are on allopathy medication, it is better to consult an Ayurvedic doctor before taking Guggul. Because some allopathic medicines can react with Guggul.
What not to do while taking Guggul?
- You should not eat food that aggravates Pitta.
- Try to avoid sour food because this will lead to indigestion.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Avoid exposure to the sun and reduce your anger.
- Possibly, avoid excessive sexual activity.
So, in this article, you have seen the varieties of guggul, health benefits, how to use it, and its doses. Guggul is a gift of nature to Ayurveda. It is useful in plenty of diseases but should be used with precaution. It is a rare herb and is therefore included in the Red List of threatened species. So plant more Guggul trees before this magical herb vanishes from earth.