Tree Sap Zaps MM Cells

I borrowed the first part of this post title from a CBS report ( on the cholesterol-lowering effect of guggulsterone, extracted from the guggul tree’s gum resin. But cholesterol-lowering is perhaps the least important property of guggulsterone.

An MD Anderson research team has just published a study on this remarkable sap extract, see the June 2007 issue of Biochemical Pharmacology (the abstract can be read at: Thanks to a close MM Italian friend (grazie, e ci vediamo domani, speriamo non piova!), I was able to read the full study. Guggulsterone is a plant polyphenol obtained from the gum resin of the Commiphora mukul tree (more familiarly known as the guggul tree, don’t you love that name? My original post title was “Google Guggul”! 😉 ). As with many other substances on my research list, this is not a new discovery. Guggulsterone has been used by Chinese and Ayurveda (ancient Indian healthcare system) medicine for centuries to treat a variety of disorders, including obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, and osteoarthritis

As always, my favourite part of a scientific study is the conclusion: Guggulsterone inhibited the proliferation of human leukemia, head and neck carcinoma, multiple myeloma, lung carcinoma, melanoma, breast carcinoma, and ovarian cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. It also blocked the proliferation of dexamethasone-resistant MM1 cells and doxorubicin-resistant breast cancer cells, and inhibited the villainous COX-2. I could dance with joy! But there is more good news.

The study also indicates that, because of lack of any known toxicity, guggulsterone should be further explored for its anticancer potential. Whether the concentrations used in our studies can be achieved in vivo, is unclear at present. [ ] Overall, our results indicate that guggulsterone inhibits the growth of wide variety of cells and induces apoptosis through downregulation of antiapoptotic gene products, modulation of cell cycle proteins, activation of caspases, inhibition of Akt and activation of JNK. As usual, the big problems are bioavailability and dosage, and, of course, testing in clinical trials.

A 2004 study (MD Anderson, again!) shows that guggulsterone suppresses NF-kB and NF-kB-regulated gene products, which may explain its anti-inflammatory activities. See: And remember my post on curcumin, osteoclasts and bone resorption? Well, a 2006 study ( by the fabulous MD Anderson researchers confirms that guggulsterone is another substance that suppresses RANKL and tumor cell €”induced osteoclastogenesis by suppressing the activation of NF-kB. Ayurvedic medicine, by the way, has used guggulsterone for centuries to treat bone fractures and ostheoarthritis. So it comes as no surprise that this particular study shows that guggulsterone suppressed osteoclastogenesis induced by MM. More dancing!

So, let’s see: here we have a non toxic substance that has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years and that has been shown to work against MM, osteoclastogenesis, COX-2, NF-kB, etc. Well, it certainly doesn’t take a genius to figure out that more research needs to be conducted on this and many other non toxic substances.

Let’s get the research ball rolling!

1 Comment

  1. Following along my recent remark that with polyphenols what works for cancer also often seems to work for Alzheimer’s– Now I wonder about your new wonder drug: Google guggul

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