Home Herbal Monograph Indian Bdellium

Occurs in the arid rocky tracts of Rajputana, Khandesh, Berar, Mysore, Sind and Baluchistan.

Morphology Description (Habit)

A small tree or shrub with spinescent branches. The leaflets are 1-3 in number and obovate. The ash-coloured bark comes off in rough flakes exposing the underbark which also peels off in thin papery rolls.

Principal Constituents

The commercial product contains about 4.65% foreign matter and about 1.45% of an aromatic essential oil besides gum and resin1

Guggul or the gum resin from the bark contains the octanordammarane terpenes manusumbionic acid and manusumbinone2


The ethyl acetate extract of Commiphora mukul was found to confer significant protection to albino rats against the development of experimental atherosclerosis. The drug not only prevented deteriorating changes in serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and plasma fibrinogen level but also favorably increased plasma fibrinolytic activity3. The oleoresin fraction of guggulu possesses significant anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory activities, the minimum effective dose being 12.5mg./100 g. body weight4. The crude aqueous extract of the oleo gum resin was found to suppress acute rat-paw edema induced by carrageenin. It also had a suppressive action against the granuloma pouch test. In adjuvant arthritis, the extract suppressed the secondary lesions very effectively without having any significant action on the primary phase. Side effects such as gastric ulceration, loss of weight and mortality were negligible in the animals treated with the extract as compared to those treated with betamethasone5.

Clinical Studies

Clinical trial with purified guggulu (Commiphora mukul) has been carried out in 35 patients of rheumatoid arthritis in order to assess its antirheumatic activity, dose requirement, resistance development, side effects, and effects on hematology (ESR). From the results obtained it has been indicated that guggulu acts as a digestive and analgesic agent without any toxic or side effects6. Twenty patients of hyperlipidemia were administered 4.5 g. of purified gum guggulu in two divided doses daily for 16 weeks. Serum cholesterol and serum triglyceride levels decreased at the end of the 4th and 8th weeks. HDL cholesterol showed a gradual increase while VLDL and LDL cholesterol showed significant decrease at all time points7.


Some adverse side-effects reported on taking guggul are mild diarrhea and nausea. It may possibly raise bilirubin levels, cause hemolysis of blood, hepatitis, and obstruction of the biliary tract. But these side effects need to be confirmed8.


It is astringent, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. When taken internally it acts as a bitter, stomachic and carminative, stimulating the appetite and improving digestion. It causes an increase in leucocytes in the blood and stimulates phagocytosis. It acts as a diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic, and is said to be a uterine stimulant and emmenagogue. The resin is used in the form of a lotion for indolent ulcers and as a gargle in chronic tonsilitis, pharyngitis and ulcerated throat.

  1. Dutt et. al., Indian J. med. Res.,1942, 30,331.
  2. Duwiejua et. al., Planta Med, 1993, 59, 12; Bhatti et. al., Curr Sci, 1989, 58, 349.
  3. Srivastava, V.K. et. al., Conference of Pharmacology and Symposium on Herbal Drugs (New Delhi), 15 March, 1991, P15.
  4. Shanthakumari, G. et. al., Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol., 1964, 8, 36.
  5. Satyavati, G.V. et. al., Rheumatism, 1969, 4, 141.
  6. Vyas, S.N. and Shukla, C.P., Rheumatism, 1987, v., 23(1), 15-26.
  7. Verma, S.K. and Bordia, A., Indian J. Med. Res., 1988, v., 87, 356-360.
  8. Paranjape & Kulkarni, J Natn Integr Med Assoc, 1990, 32(1), 7; Rasheed et. al., Hamdard, 1993, 36(4), 36.