Gugulipid, also known as guggul, has a long history of use in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. Traditional uses include the treatment of arthritis, neurological problems, urinary problems, hemorrhoids, menstrual problems and skin diseases. In current times, research suggests it might have use in treating high cholesterol, acne, diabetes and obesity but the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center notes evidence is either mixed or lacking for these purposes. While generally safe, it has some potential adverse effects connected to it, much like any drug or herbal treatment. If you believe taking guggul will address a particular health concern, talk to your doctor who can offer guidance on whether it is appropriate to use this herb and how to use it safely.
Beth Israel reports clinical trials looking at guggul have reported mild side effects such as stomach upset and allergic skin rash. Other potential side effects include belching, hiccups and loose stools.
Drugs.com notes studies which found using guggul along with the antihypertensive medications propranolol and diltiazem, interfered with their absorption, which would reduce their effectiveness. Guggul demonstrates antiplatelet and anticoagulant activity, which suggests it could increase the effects of blood-thinning medications. It might also stimulate thyroid activity, which could prove problematic if you take thyroid replacement medication for hypothyroidism.
Use in Certain Individuals
Because of its potential to cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset, the University of Michigan Health System urges caution when using guggul if you have inflammatory bowel disease or are suffering a bout of diarrhea. Beth Israel notes laboratory tests found guggul did not negatively impact liver or kidney function but these organs -- particularly when functioning at a reduced capacity -- have a particular sensitivity to what you put in your body. If you have liver or kidney disease, always talk to your doctor before beginning treatment with any supplement. The same precaution applies if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Its potential to stimulate the thyroid gland could worsen hyperthyroidism
While guggul might have the potential to lower cholesterol, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reports one trial found it actually raised cholesterol levels. If you want to use guggul for this purpose, only do so under the supervision of your doctor, who can monitor your cholesterol levels. Beth Israel notes a case report which suggests guggul has the potential to cause rhabdomyolosis -- a condition in which the rapid breakdown of muscle fiber could lead to kidney damage or complete failure.