An herbal extract used in parts of Asia and gaining popularity in Western countries against high cholesterol didn’t show promise in a U.S. trial. Recent laboratory studies in the United States and research on obese people in India had led some scientists to expect a beneficial effect from guggul extract, which is derived from the resin of the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul).
But volunteers with high cholesterol who received guggul extract pills for 8 weeks experienced an increase in their low-density lipoprotein cholesterol compared with volunteers who got placebo pills. Six of 67 volunteers taking guggul extract rapidly developed skin rashes, which subsided after they stopped the treatment.
While the extract didn’t improve cholesterol scores in the volunteers, it might work in people with different diets or genetic factors, Philippe Szapary of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and his colleagues suggest in the Aug. 13 Journal of the American Medical Association. Participants in the current study lived near Philadelphia and ate a typical Western diet.
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