The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, below the larynx. The gland consists of follicular cells that produce the hormones — thyroxine and triiodothyronine — which play an important role in metabolism. Abnormal functioning of the thyroid gland can lead to thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis and thyroid cancer. Medications and surgery are often prescribed to treat the conditions. Certain herbs and natural supplements such as guggul may also help manage the condition.
Guggul is a yellowish resin produced from the stem of the guggul plant, Commiphora mukul. It has been traditionally used to treat a variety of conditions such as obesity, hypolipidemia, inflammation and acne. The chemical components of guggul such as guggulsterones, myrhhanol A and antagonist ligands are responsible for the biological activity of the herb. It is available as tablets, capsules, powders and liquid extracts. However, the dosage and form vary, depending on the patient's age and overall condition.
Link Between Guggul and Thyroid Function
Guggul supplements have the ability to regulate thyroid function and improve hypothyroidism, according to a study published in the January 2005 issue of the journal “Phototherapy Research.” Dr. Richard B. Kreider, author of the book “Exercise and Sport Nutrition,” also states that gugguisterones, found in guggul, have the ability to increase the output of the thyroid gland and stimulate the conversion of the T4 thyroid hormone into its more active T3 form. This can help increase metabolism and burn fat. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center also recommends 25 mg of gugguisterones three times daily to lower the high cholesterol levels associated with hypothyroidism.
Guggul supplements are generally safe to use, although side effects such as gastric disturbances, headaches, hiccups and rash may occur in some cases. Allergic reactions have also been reported in rare cases. The supplements may also interfere with thyroid and anticoagulant medications.
Always talk to a doctor before using guggul supplements to determine if they are right for you. The dose of your regular thyroid medications may have to be adjusted to account for the activity of guggul. Also remember that the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, does not regulate the production and distribution of guggul supplements in the United States; hence, try your best to determine the product's quality and purity.
- "Phytotherapy Research"; Guggulu (Commiphora mukul) Potentially Ameliorates Hypothyroidism in Female Mice; S. Panda, et al.; January 2005
- "Exercise & Sport Nutrition: Principles, Promises, Science, & Recommendations; Richard B. Kreider ,et al.; 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Thyroiditis
- MSKCC: Guggul