Q. I have read several columns about how to lower cholesterol. Mine is somewhat high but my HDL is good (75). Maybe that’s because I exercise four times a week, getting my heart rate up to the 130s for at least 20 minutes.
My doctor does not think I need to take cholesterol medicine at this time. I have heard that guggul extract helps lower cholesterol. I’ve been taking half the dose recommended on the bottle. I showed my doctor the bottle of guggul and he said it won’t hurt me, but he did not feel it was controlling my cholesterol–the exercise was.
What is your take on guggul? Are there side effects I should know about?
A. Preliminary studies suggested that guggul, a traditional botanical medicine from India, might reduce cholesterol. A well-designed placebo-controlled trial showed, however, that guggul did not lower total cholesterol (Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 13, 2003). People taking guggul actually had slightly higher LDL cholesterol levels at the end of the study, and some people developed a rash. Guggul may also interact with certain prescription medications and make them less effective.