Guggul, the sticky gum resin from the mukul myrrh tree, plays a major role in Ayurveda, the traditional herbal medicine of India. It was traditionally combined with other herbs for the treatment of arthritis, skin diseases, pains in the nervous system, obesity, digestive problems, infections in the mouth, and menstrual problems.

Based on preliminary studies, guggul has become a popular herbal treatment for high cholesterol.2-5 However, the best-designed trial failed to find benefit.

Other potential uses of guggul have no more than minimal supporting evidence. One small study hints that guggul might be helpful for acne.6 In addition, a study in mice found potential anti-diabeticeffects.7

Recently, guggul has been promoted as a weight-loss agent. Supposedly, it works by enhancing thyroid function. However, there is little evidence that guggul actually affects the thyroid, and one small double-blind, placebo-controlledtrial failed to find it effective for weight loss.8