Scientists say there is no evidence to support claims that a popular herbal supplement reduces cholesterol. They have suggested that guggul may actually increase cholesterol rather than lower it. Guggul extract has been used in traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years.
Besides its supposed impact on cholesterol, there have been claims that it protects against heart disease, stroke, tonsillitis and bronchitis.
Dr Philippe Szapary and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tested the extract on a group of volunteers. They divided 103 volunteers into three groups. One group received a standard 1,000mg dose of guggul three times a day for eight weeks. The second group was given a high dose of 2,000mg of the extract and the third group received a dummy pill.
The researchers found that levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) increased in both groups taking the extract.