Lower Your Cholesterol With Guggul
The Basics of High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance used by the body to make cell membranes and hormones. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs, so any dietary intake is unnecessary. In fact, this excess cholesterol can be quite dangerous. Fatty deposits formed from cholesterol molecules clumping together in the blood vessels can build up and eventually cause blockage. If this blockage occurs in the heart, it's called a heart attack. When the brain is involved, it's a stroke. Because of this danger, it is important to monitor cholesterol levels. High cholesterol doesn't cause any symptoms until it actually causes a restriction in blood flow, and by then it's too late and the damage is done. Regular blood testing, about every five years or so, for cholesterol is recommended from age thirty on.
How Can High Cholesterol Be Treated?
If your blood cholesterol levels are too high, your doctor will recommend that you lower them. The easiest, and safest, way to do this is through diet and exercise. Start incorporating aerobic exercise on a regular basis, and stay away from foods high in fat and cholesterol. If this is not enough, several different prescription medications are available. The most common of these are the statins, a group of drugs that block one of the key ingredients that the liver needs to make cholesterol, thereby reducing the body's own production of cholesterol. Needless to say, they do nothing about cholesterol from food intake. While prescription medications can be quite useful in treating high cholesterol, they do come with unpleasant side effects and usually a requirement of lifelong use. To many, this is not an appealing prospect. There are, however, alternatives. Recently, an herbal remedy, guggul, has been causing quite a stir.
What is Guggul?
Guggul is the resin of the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul), found in India. In its homeland, it has been used for millennia to treat obesity, inflammation, and high cholesterol. Recently, it has become very popular in the United States, Europe, and Japan as a fat-burning supplement.
How Can Guggul Help with High Cholesterol?
The active ingredient in guggul is a pair of molecules called guggulsterones. Gugglesterones inhibit one of the receptors on the cell's surface, FXR. FXR is a bile acid receptor. Bile acid, integral in the process of fat digestion, is made from cholesterol. Thus, taking guggul should help lower cholesterol. Studies in mice support this conclusion. Along with their effect on fat digestion, guggulsterones also interact with the immune and endocrine systems. Many people claim that guggul can help clear up infections, boost white blood cell counts, increase energy by acting on the thyroid, treat arthritis, prevent atherosclerosis, and even treat acne!
Who Should Take Guggul?
The results seem promising. Guggul has been found to affect many different body systems, reputedly with good results. There is research to support the power of guggul to lower cholesterol. If you have high blood pressure, it is certainly worth trying. However, because of the global effect of guggul, it can also cause complications. Guggul can mimic the effects of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, so if you are on any kind of hormone therapy, adding guggul to the mix is not a good idea.
Photo Credit: Travlr