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P Native Photo: Amber Srivastava
Common name: Guggal, Indian bdellium-tree, Mukul myrrh tree • Hindi: गुग्गुल Guggul, गुग्गल Guggal • Kannada: Antu guggula, ಗುಗ್ಗುಲ, ಗುಗ್ಗುಳ Guggula, ಕೌಶಿಕ Kaushika, ಮಹಿಷಾಕ್ಷ Mahishaaksha, ಮಹಿಷಾಕ್ಷಿ Mahishaakshi • Marathi: guggala, gulag, mukul • Rajasthani: गुग्गल Guggal • Sanskrit: गुग्गुलु Guggulu, Ahavabhishtha, Bhutahara • Tibetan: གུགུལ་Gu-gu-la • Telugu: gugul, mahishaksha, maisakshi • Urdu: Guggul ﮔﹹﹽﮕﻞ
Botanical name: Commiphora wightii    Family: Burseraceae (Torchwood family)
Synonyms: Balsamea mukul , Balsamodendron mukul, Commiphora mukul

Guggal is a flowering plant which produces a fragrant resin called guggal. It grows as a shrub or small tree, reaching a maximum height of 4 m, with thin papery bark. The branches are thorny. Leaves are simple or trifoliate, the leaflets ovate, 1-5 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm broad, and irregularly toothed. It is gynodioecious, with some plants bearing bisexual and male flowers, and others with female flowers. The individual flowers are red to pink, with four small petals. The small round fruit are red when ripe. It is the source of Guggul or Indian Bdellium, a gum-resin that exudes from the branches. It is largely used as an incense, in medicine and perfumery, and as a substitute for African Bdellium. It is also used to adulterate myrrh. Guggal is found in Pakistan and India. Flowering: November-July.
Medicinal uses: The extract of gum guggul, called gugulipid, guggulipid, or guglipid, has been used in Unani and Ayurvedic medicine, for nearly 3,000 years in India. One chemical ingredient in the extract is the steroid guggulsterone, which acts as an antagonist of the farnesoid X receptor, once believed to result in decreased cholesterol synthesis in the liver. However, several studies have been published that indicate no overall reduction in total cholesterol occurs using various dosages of guggulsterone and levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad cholesterol") increased in many people.

Identification credit: Amber Srivastava, Ankush Dave Photographed in Morena, Madhya Pradesh & Agra, Uttar Pradesh.

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