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Research Findings

US take note of Ayurvedic remedy to lower cholesterol

Maggie Fox

A traditional remedy approved in India for lowering cholesterol really does work, and in a new way that might lead to the development of improved drugs, researchers said on Thursday.

The resin of the Guggulu tree has been used in Indian traditional medicines for more than 2,500 years, and more recently has been enlisted to fight high cholesterol.

David Moore of the Baylor College of medicine in Houston found that the Guggulu extract lives up to its reputation. It really does lower cholesterol in a number of clinical studies in the Indian literature, Moore said.

Writing in the journal science he said it has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine since at least 600BC to treat obesity and other disorder.

Moore’s team found the steroid guggulsterone, the active agent in the Guggulu extract blocks the activity of the Foresaid X receptor (FXR) on cells. FXR helps regulate cholesterol by affecting levels of bile acids, which are produced from cholesterol and released by the liver.

“Bile acids are the only way that cholesterol has to get out of the body. ”Moore said in the telephone interview.” We knew that FXR was a key regulator of cholesterol metabolism” 

Moore wanted to study FXR more, so he looked for compounds known to lower cholesterol whose mechanism of action was not understood.” I spent a lot of time clicking around the internet, ”he said .He found guggulu terone, along with niacin – a B vitamin regularly prescribed for cholesterol patients – and red wine .Red wine and Niacin were not involve strongly enough with FXR to interest him, but gugulipid , available in health food stores in the United states, was. 

Tests in mice showed guggulu extract lowers cholesterol by blocking the effects of FXR. “We put mice on a high cholesterol diet for a week and measured cholesterol levels in the liver,” Said Moore, who worked with colleagues at the University of Texas southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“In Normal mice you feed them cholesterol and the cholesterol level in the liver goes up, but if you feed them cholesterol and give them guggulsterone at the same time, the levels stay the same, he said. Mice bred to lack FXR did not respond to guggulu. Moore , who with colleagues has set up a small bio-technology company called X-captor therapeutics inc in San Diego, California ,said it might be possible to more specifically target FXR with a drug. The company has patented FXR. As a pharmaceutical company you are not going to be interested in producing something that is better,” Moore said. The company is based on the idea that nuclear receptors like FXR and others are good targets for identifying new drugs.

Moore, who takes statin drugs to lower his own cholesterol, tried guggulu. I was curious about whether it would work with statins, which I was already taking .It dropped my total serum cholesterol by 10 percent, “he said .”But we had some evidence that it might have effects on the activity of other drugs and I stopped taking it.”

Other claims for gugulipid are that it can help you lose weight by increasing metabolism. I was disappointed there,” Said Moore,” It did not affect my weight.”  

Source : Indian Express Mumbai
Washington 2nd May,2002