Inflammation is the body's natural defensive response to infection and certain chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation, however, produces pain, swelling, and often redness which is why anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are often recommended to reduce the discomfort. But anti-inflammatory drugs are not without their side effects. The active compounds in guggul, Z-guggulsterone and E-guggulsterone, have been studied in India for their effects on joint diseases and have been found to be virtually free of any adverse side effects.
Look for products standardized to contain guggulsterones, the active components of the herb. To encourage fat loss, informed health practitioners suggest supplementing with one tablet three times a day. Follow the manufacturer's directions for usage, however, since products may vary.
Because guggul appears to help reduce fat in the blood and tissues, it should work optimally in partnership with a low-fat diet. Loading up on fatty foods would only negate the herb's special benefits.
Also, you may want to glean some dietary advice by exploring the Ayurvedic system of medicine, which is largely based on diet. Along with diet, exercise, and lifestyle management, herbs like guggul and triphala are used in this healing system to help restore balance and well-being.
Ayurveda classifies individuals into three health/body types, governed by controlling principles called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. According to Ayruvedic thought, all three intermingle in an individual's constitution to some degree, although a single principle may predominate or be out of balance at any given time. You're considered healthy if all three principles are in equilibrium. Practitioners look at the patient's disposition, habits, and life in general to customize the Ayruvedic treatment accordingly.
Vata involves movement, emotions, breathing, circulation, and the nervous system. When balanced, this principle makes you more alert, energetic, and creative. Out of whack, it causes anxiety, restlessness, constipation, and high blood pressure. To help restore balance, dietary recommendations include eating sweet fruits, cooked vegetables and grains, nuts, natural sweeteners, and dairy products in moderation. Foods to avoid are dried fruits and grains, raw vegetables, and any gas-producing food.
The Pitta principle relates to metabolism, and balance leads to healthy digestion and tranquillity. Out of balance, it manifests as anger, skin problems, and ulcers. Dietary steps include eating sweet fruits, vegetables, all types of beans, and milk-based cheeses; and avoiding sour fruits, pungent vegetables such as onions, nuts, spices, and any fermented dairy products such as yogurt.
Kapha describes attributes such as structure and solidity. Balanced Kapha provides strength, endurance, healthy immunity, and a good disposition. An imbalance can make you overweight and lead to related problems, such as water retention and high cholesterol. Foods to balance Kapha include dry fruits, raw vegetables, dry grains and cereals, spicy foods (thought to help the metabolism), and beans. As for diet, low-fat, low-sugar foods typical of most reducing diets is the best course of action. Sweet fruits, nuts, natural sweeteners, dairy products, and oil should be avoided, according to Ayurvedic recommendations.
Studied scientifically for more than 30 years and used in India for more than 2,500 years, guggul appears to be safe as a dietary supplement. If you are taking cholesterol-lowering medication or other drugs, consult with your physician before supplementing.