The gum is bitter, acrid, resolvent, expectorant, aphrodisiac, enriches the blood, useful in muscular rheumatism, lung complaints, dyspepsia and piles

Guggulu (Commiphora wightii): Medicinal uses

Plants have been one of the important source of medicines ever since the dawn of human civilization. In spite of tremendous developments in the field of Allopathy during the 20th century, plants still remain one of the major source of drugs in modern as well as traditional systems of medicine throughout the world. Approximately one-third of all pharmaceuticals are of plant origin, wherein fungi and bacteria are also included. Over 60% of all pharmaceuticals are plant-based. 

Commiphora wightii (Arn.) Bhandari syn. Commiphora mukul 

Commiphora wightii (Arnott) Bhandari, a highly valuable medicinal plant yields an oleo-gum resin important in Ayurvedic medicines (Chakravarty, 1975). The plant is known as ‘Indian bdellium’ in English, as Mahisaksha, Guggulu, Amish, Palanksha and Pur in Sanskrit and as Guggul in most Indian languages (Anon, 1950). Its antiarthritic, hypocholesterolaemic and hypolipidaemic properties have been established (Satyavati, 1990) and a commercial product ‘guglip’ has been marketed in India since 1988. Owing to the enormous demand for the drug, the plant is subjected  to  crude  and  destructive  tapping procedures resulting in drastic shrinkage of its area of occurrence and abundance.

Taxonomical Classification of Commiphora wightii

Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Spermatopsida
Sub Class: Maqnoliidae
Order: Sapindales
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Commiphora
Species: Wightii


The gum of Guggul is of five kinds. It is bitter, hot, acrid, laxative, stomachic, aphrodisiac, alterative, tonic, anthelmintic, causes biliousness, heals fractures, ulcers, fistula, piles, removes ‘Kapha’, ‘Vata’, cures indigestion, urinary discharges, urinary concretions, leucoderma, tumours, inflammation, tuberculosis, removes bad discharge from the ear. The fruit cures abdominal troubles.


The gum is bitter, acrid, resolvent, expectorant, aphrodisiac, enriches the blood, useful in muscular rheumatism, lung complaints, dyspepsia and piles. The gum is a demulcent, carminative, especially useful in nervous diseases, scrofulous affections, urinary disorders and skin diseases. It is applied locally as a paste in haemorrhoides, incipient abscesses and bad ulcers.  


Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita 

The gum is employed with other drugs in the treatment of snakebite and scorpion-sting (Kirtiker and Basu, 1935). 

Clinical application

Anti-arthritic activity

Anti-arthritic activity of guggulu was performed on selected patients of osteo-arthritis (OA). The antiarthritic activity of the plant is mainly due to presence of guggulosterone. In a clinical study, it was observed that pain, stiffness and other symptoms of OA was markedly reduced with guggulu [.Singh BB, Mishra LC, Vinjamury SP, Aquilina N, Singh VJ and Shepard N, The effectiveness of Commiphora mukul for osteoarthritis of the knee: an outcomes study, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2003, 9 (3), 74–79].

Cytotoxic activity

Treatment with gugulipid significantly inhibited the viability of human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP (androgen-dependent) and its androgen-independent variant (C-81) with IC50 of 1 μM (24 h treatment), thus indicating its possible role in apoptosis and cancer prevention [.Zhu N, Rafi MM, DiPaola RS, et al., Bioactive constituents from gum guggul (Commiphora wightii),Phytochemistry, 2001, 56 (7), 723–727]. 

The results of this study indicated that guggulsterone inhibited proliferation of PC-3 cells in culture by causing apoptosis, whereas a normal prostate epithelial cell line is resistant to growth inhibition and apoptosis induction by this phytoconstituent. These observations provided rationale for further preclinical and clinical evaluation of guggulsterone for its efficacy against prostate cancer.

Skin disease

Administration of gugulipid was reported to be effective in the treatment of nodulocystic acne. A study in 21 patients found that gugulipid was as effective as tetracycline in the treatment. The patients with oily faces responded better to the gugulipid treatmen [Thappa DM and Dogra J, Nodulocystic acne: oral gugulipid versus tetracycline, J Dermatology, 1994, 21 (10), 729–731]
Commonly market available formulations of guggulu

Yogaraj Guggulu. 

This synergistic combination of herbs is particularly adept at clearing excess vata from the body, especially when it is lodged in the musculoskeletal system. It is powerfully detoxifying and rejuvenating and it has a special affinity for the joints, muscles and nerves. Guggul helps this preparation to scrape and eliminate natural toxins from the joints and muscle tissues as it rejuvenates and strengthens the skeletal and neuromuscular systems overall.

Kaishore Guggulu.

This preparation is especially balancing for pitta, particularly when it is disturbing the musculoskeletal system. Its main ingredients— guduchi, triphala, and trikatu—when combined with guggul, create a powerful detoxifying and rejuvenating combination aimed primarily at removing deep-seated pitta from the tissues. It also acts to nourish and strengthen the system, supporting the overall health and proper function of the joints, the muscles, and the connective tissue

Punarnavadi Guggulu.

This formula is very useful for clearing excess kapha from the urinary system, kidneys, heart, and joints. Its main ingredients— punarnava, triphala, and trikatu—when combined with guggul, create a powerful detoxifying and rejuvenating combination that supports the healthy elimination of liquids, thereby balancing the water element in the body and releasing deep-seated kapha from the tissues. It also supports the lymph and blood and encourages healthy circulation and comfortable movement of the joints

Triphala Guggulu.

This classic Ayurvedic preparation combines the detoxifying and rejuvenating actions of triphala with the deeply penetrating and cleansing actions of guggul. It decongests the channels of the body, while scraping natural toxins held within the tissues. This preparation is particularly useful for weight management because it kindles agni (the digestive fire), promotes healthy metabolism, and releases excess kapha from the system. In maintaining overall health, it minimizes the accumulation of toxins in the GI tract, blood, and joints by supporting proper digestion and elimination.

Kanchanar Guggulu

This combination of herbs is primarily used to address deep-seated kapha imbalances and is particularly supportive of the thyroid gland and the lymphatic system. Kanchanar is a very astringent herb that helps to clear the moist, stagnant qualities of kapha. When mixed with triphala, trikatu, and guggul, the combination is powerfully detoxifying and removes excess kapha from the tissues. Future accumulation of kapha is also minimized by this formula because it kindles agni (the digestive fire) and promotes healthy elimination.

Gokshuradi Guggulu.

This compound has a strong affinity for the genitourinary tract, strengthening and toning the kidneys, the bladder, the urethra, and the reproductive organs, while balancing vata, pitta, and kapha. Its main ingredient, gokshura, is renowned for its rejuvenating action on the kidneys, the prostate, and the reproductive system. This formula, which also contains guggul, triphala, and trikatu, is very effective at detoxifying and balancing the urinary system. 


Simhanad Guggulu. 

This formula is specifically geared toward detoxifying and rejuvenating the joints and is balancing for vata and kapha; in excess, it may aggravate pitta. It combines the scraping and rejuvenating qualities of guggul with the potent cleansing capacity of castor oil and triphala, allowing it to remove natural toxins from the joints, blood, and GI tract. The soothing and lubricating qualities of the herbs then work to nourish and strengthen the joint tissues, supporting proper function and mobility. This preparation also promotes healthy digestion and elimination for improved overall health.

Navakarshika guggulu

It cures fisfula-inano, piles, dropsical swellings and abdominal tumours.

Amrita guggulu 

This medicine cures all the sixteen varieties of skin diseases called leprosy, malignant jaundice, urticaria, loss of appetite, fistula-in-ano, inflammation of the schneiderian membrane with loss of the sense of smell, catarrh in the nose, enlargement of the spleen and abdominal ailments. It is especially beneficial in tubercular leprosy. 2 to 4 vati are taken with warm water thrice a day


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