Guggul, an Indian tree resin, was a traditional cure for obesity. According to Ayurvedic medical philosophy, if slow metabolism is the problem, guggul may help.
Tester: Sara Altshul, 50. “I’m about 30 pounds overweight. I try to eat a healthy diet, but exercise is at the bottom of my to-do list.”
Product claims: Most guggul products primarily tout its cholesterol-lowering benefits; some mention weight loss.
Cost: $15 to $33 for a 1-month supply, depending on the brand.
Caution: People with hyperthyroidism should not use guggul.
The program: I didn’t change my diet or exercise habits in any way. I took one 750-milligram capsule of gugulipid (one of the herb’s active components) a day as directed by the label.
Results: After three months, I had lost only two pounds, but my cholesterol was headed in the right direction: total cholesterol down 19 points, LDL (bad) cholesterol down 11 points, triglycerides down a whopping 111 points and HDL (good) cholesterol up 14 points.
Research: A few studies have confirmed guggul’s ability to lower cholesterol. In one, people were given 500 milligrams of gugulipid for 12 weeks. Cholesterol dropped by 24 percent, and triglycerides dropped by 23 percent in most people.
Analysis: If not startling, my results were encouraging. If a low dose of guggul could make this kind of difference in three months, imagine what toning my diet and adding some regular activity will do! In addition, I’ve learned that I should have been taking more: Experts recommend 500 milligrams of gugulipid extract twice a day.
Expert opinion: “Don’t expect guggul to melt off the pounds,” says Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, a London– and Washington, DC-based herbalist. “If you eat too much, guggul won’t help. However, when combined with a sensible diet and exercise program, it may help reduce body fat and cholesterol.”