Common Name   :Guggul

Plant Parts Used  :Gum resin, Stem, Leaf

Description         :

A woody shrub to a small tree, with spirally ascending branches. Leaves 1-3 foliate, leaflets sessile to subsessile, terminal ones largest, rhomboid to ovate in shape, irregularly toothed argin. Flowers small, brown to pink, unisexual. Calyx shows glandular hairs, forming cylindrical cap; Petals 4-5 times as long as sepal. Stigma 8-10, stigma, inconspicuously bilobed. Fruit-drupe, red, ovate, accuminate in shape, with 2-celled store, rarely 4 valved.

Characteristics and Constituents :

The olcoresin contains 0.37% essential oil containing mainly myrecene, dimyrecene, and polymyrecene. Alcohol extraction gives a soluble resin and an insoluble carbohydrate gum. Solvent extraction, hydrolysis and column chromatography over silica gel of guggul resin identifies a number of compounds -a diterpene hydrocarbon, a diterpene alcohol, Z-guggulsterone E-guggul- sterone, guggulsterol-I gugguisterol-II and guggulsterol-III Cholesterol, sesamin and camphorene are also found. The anti inflammatory and hypolipidaemic fractions have been isolated.

Actions and Uses :

The two main areas of investigation have been its 1) Hypolipidaemic action (which has been recognised since the vedic ages) and 2) its anti-inflammatory effect. Hypolipidaemic action was pioneered by the laboratory investigations carried out by Satyavati based on the postulation of Sushruta that guggul is very useful in the treatment of obesity. On treatment of experimentally induced hypercholesterolaemia in rabbits, with crude guggul, for a period of 8 weeks, the abnormal hyperlipaemia was significantly less after four weeks. Regression in serum cholesterol after loading was much greater in guggul-treated rabbits than in the untreated controls Oral administration of crude guggulu, as also the alcohol soluble and insoluble fractions produce lower cholesterol levels and lessening in serum turbidity. Of the three petroleum ether fractions of guggulu A, B and C,fraction A is most effective in lowering the hyper- cholesterolaemia in cholesterol fed chickens. When a 95%. Alcohol extract of guggulu was given to Indian domestic pigs kept on a standard atherogenic diet for a period of six weeks, the total serum cholesterol, and the serum lipoprotein were both significantly reduced. In albino rats and in rabbits too, crude guggulu and a pure steroid reduced the serum cholesterol by the second week of exposures. A similar hypocholesterolaemic effect was found in the alcohol extract and two pure fractions-a terpenod and a steroid- this being the most potent fraction with a lowering rate of 69% and a c/p ratio of 1.24 to 0.73. The cholesterol lowering effects of fraction A have been seen in monkeys kept on a high cholesterol diet, the results being comparable to those of Atromid-S. The mode of action appears to lie in its fibrinolytic activity and a fall in the platelet adhesive index. Purified steroidal fractions of guggulu show a marked inhibition of platelet aggregation by ADP, adrenaline, and scrotonin, the effect being comparable to that of clofibrate. The steroidal component of Fraction A of the petroleum ether extract has marked antiarthritic effect,comparable to that of hydrocortisone,and more potent than phenyl-butazone. It has a high anti- inflammatory potential against Brownlee's formaldehyde-induced arthritis in albino rats. However, only the acidic fraction showed significant activity, the nonacid and solid fraction being inactive. Carrageenin oedema of the rat paw also regressed on exposure to the steroidal component of Fraction A of gum guggulu. The resin extract is reported to have some immunosuppressive effect on rabbits sensitised with typhoid H antigen. In human subjects, 22 patients suffering from varied maladies such as hemiplegia, diabetes, hypertension and ischaemic heart disease, when treated with 6-12 gms of crude guggulu, in divided doses for a fortnight to one month,showed a decrease in serum cholesterol and serum lipid phosphate levels. In human trials, Fraction A of the petroleum ether extract lowered serum triglycerides and lipoproteins to 30% and 21% respectively, the total lowering effect being comparable to clofibrate and a Ciba compound. Clinical trials with the crude guggulu,as well as the Fraction A of the petroleum ether extract,showed a considerable decrease in mean serum cholesterol levels, to a statistically significant level in obese subjects. In patients with coronary insufficiency and ischaemic heart disease the oleoresin of guggulu had a cholesterol lowering effect comparable to other hypolipidaemic agents. A very important use of the gum resin from C. mukul has been in the treatment of various clinical types of arthritis, on the basis of its anti-inflammatory potential. No significant side effects are reported. Mild burning in epigastrium and mild diarrhoea have been found on administration of higher doses. The phase 1 studies in volunteers were carried out with large doses.

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