Shilajit is a blackish-brown substance that is found in the rocks of the Himalayan mountains. It is used as a dietary supplement and is formed due to the century-long decomposition of certain plants and microorganisms. Shilajit benefits you by restoring your energy and has the potential to ward off many diseases. In ayurvedic practices, shilajit has been used as a medicinal compound for its rejuvenating and anti-aging abilities. Traditionally this substance has been used by the people of North India and Nepal as a part of their regular diet. Children consume this with milk for their breakfast (1).
In This Article
What Is Shilajit?
Shilajit is a substance that is obtained from the extraction of rocks and is known to have many medicinal and therapeutic benefits. It has been used extensively in the preparation of traditional Ayurvedic medicines to cure many ailments. It is also known to have been used as a supplement in many sexual-wellness drugs. In India, shilajit is used as an aphrodisiac to boost libido levels (2).
Now that you know what shilajit is, how it has been used in ancient medicine, and some of its uses, let us look at what are the potential health benefits of using shilajit.
Health Benefits Of Shilajit
Shilajit has been used in ancient medicine for thousands of years and has been used to treat many ailments. However, due to lack of enough clinical research, it is difficult to ascertain conclusively the benefits shilajit brings to modern medicine. Here are a few potential health benefits of shilajit:
- Improves Sperm Count And Fertility
Studies show that by consuming shilajit, the sperm count improved significantly and thereby resulted in the improvement of fertility levels in men. A study was conducted among 60 men who were suffering from infertility due to low sperm count and low sperm motility. For a period of 90 days, these men were given shilajit in capsule form after breakfast and dinner. Out of the 60, 28 men showed significant improvement in their sperm count and sperm motility thereby confirming the ability of shilajit to help in improving fertility among men (3).
- Helps In The Production Of Testosterone
A study was conducted among 60 healthy men in the age group of 45-55 years to ascertain the role of shilajit in improving their testosterone levels. The group was split into 2 sets, where one set received a placebo of shilajit, while the other received a dose of 250mg of purified shilajit twice a day. It was found that the group who received shilajit saw a significant increase in testosterone on days 30, 60, and 90 when compared to the placebo group. The study thus concluded that the consumption of shilajit on a regular basis improved testosterone levels (4).
- Improves Physical Performance
Research shows that men who consume shilajit have higher energy levels as it helps retain muscular strength. A compound called fulvic acid is present in shilajit that helps reduce a fatigue-induced decline in strength. In a study, 63 men with active lifestyles volunteered to test the benefits of shilajit on their physical performance. During the test period of 8 weeks, half the participants were given a 500mg dose of Shilajit, and the other group received a placebo. At the end of the test period, the group that received shilajit showed better retention of muscle strength that resulted in a lesser decline in strength due to fatigue (5).
In another study, athletes specializing in rowing and canoeing were massaged with balms and ointments made from shilajit. It was found that shilajit helped in quicker recovery as it had a soothing and restorative effect on the athletes (6).
- Improves Memory
Apart from improving muscular strength and endurance, shilajit also helps in improving memory and brain function. A study using albino mice revealed that the mice that were given a dose of shilajit showed better memory and learning ability(7).
- May Slow Down Aging
As shilajit is known to be a rich source of humic substances that include fulvic acid and selenium. These compounds are known to have anti-aging properties. They act as an anti-inflammatory agent that protects the cells from free radicals that are responsible for cellular damage and aging. Studies show that regular consumption of shilajit leads to slower aging and better health (1).
- May Slow Down Alzheimer’s Disease
Fulvic acid is an antioxidant that helps to improve cognitive health. It also helps to prevent the accumulation of tau protein that could lead to the damage of brain cells. Researchers believe that fulvic acid present in shilajit helps in reducing the inflammation caused due to the build-up of tau protein. This potentially prevents or slows down Alzheimer’s disease. However further research on this subject is required to establish the direct correlation between the use of shilajit and its effect on preventing Alzheimer’s (1).
- May Reduce High Altitude Sickness
High altitude sickness or mountain sickness is caused by low temperature, change in atmospheric pressure, and intense solar radiation. These changes lead to tiredness, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and in some cases, depression. Consuming a dose of shilajit before your mountaineering expedition may help prevent and alleviate these symptoms (8).
- May Help Prevent Diabetes
Shilajit is known to help reduce blood glucose levels, improve your lipid profile, and help prevent diabetes. A study was conducted on rats where they were induced with diabetes and were given different doses of shilajit varying from 50, 100, and 200mg/kg for 4 weeks. The results found that the rats that received 100mg/kg of shilajit showed the most significant reduction in blood glucose levels. This led to the conclusion that shilajit is effective in controlling blood glucose levels and preventing diabetes (9). However, further research on human subjects is required to conclusively prove these benefits.
Did you ever think that this simple sticky paste found in the rocks of the Himalayan mountains could have so many health benefits? Now that you know, you are better informed about how shilajit benefits your health. Let us see if there are any possible side effects of consuming shilajit.
Side Effects Of Shilajit
Shilajit when used as a dietary supplement for a prolonged period has not shown any detrimental effects on the human body and health. However, there may be a few side effects caused in some cases that you need to be aware of. Here are a few possible side effects of shilajit:
- May Cause Intoxication
Consuming shilajit without preliminary purification may you be intoxicated. This is due to the presence of mycotoxins and heavy metals in shilajit (1).
- May Contain Heavy Metals Such As Lead and Mercury
Shilajit is not a regulated medical product and is thus not approved by the FDA. Adulterated shilajit containing heavy metals such as mercury and lead may be openly available for sale in the markets. You need to exercise caution while purchasing shilajit to avoid lead poisoning or buying counterfeits (10),(11).
While shilajit benefits your health in many ways, it also has the above-mentioned possible side effects. This substance is generally safe for you, but consuming it raw must be avoided as it may contain fungus that could make you sick. When purchasing this product, ensure you purchase it from a verified and reputable source.
Now let us look at how to use this product in the most effective way possible to get the best results.
How To Use Shilajit For Maximum Benefits?
Shilajit is available in either powder or liquid concentrate form. If you purchase this in liquid form, you can use a pea-sized drop of shilajit concentrate with water and drink as per your physician or nutritionist’s instructions. If purchased in powder form, you can add a teaspoon of this powder to a glass of milk and have it twice a day. This will ensure your blood levels are optimal and have a therapeutic effect on you. The recommended dose for maintaining good health is 300-500mg per day (8).
In conclusion, shilajit is undoubtedly a super substance that has numerous benefits that date back to ancient times and holds true even today. A safe, effective, and potent dietary supplement, shilajit has very few side effects. However, since it is not a regulated medical product by the FDA, it is of utmost importance that you purchase this from a reputed and trusted source to avoid any complications.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
What is Shilajit good for?
When should Shilajit be taken?
Shilajit is best taken after your meals.
Does Shilajit increase testosterone?
Yes, it does increase testosterone (4).
How long does it take for shilajit to work?
For most people, it begins to work after 2-3 months of regular use.
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- Shilajit: A Natural Phytocomplex with Potential Procognitive Activity
- Medicinal Properties of Shilajit a Review
- Clinical Evaluation of Spermatogenic Activity of Processed Shilajit in Oligospermia
- Clinical Evaluation of Purified Shilajit on Testosterone Levels in Healthy Volunteers
- The Effects of Shilajit Supplementation on Fatigue-Induced Decreases in Muscular Strength and Serum Hydroxyproline Levels
- Use of Non-Traditional Recovery Means To Improve Performance of 11-12-Year-Old Athletes Specializing in Rowing and Canoeing
- Effects of Shilajit on Memory Anxiety and Brain Monoamines In Rats
- Shilajit: A Panacea For High-Altitude Problems
- Effect of Shilajit on Blood Glucose and Lipid Profile in Alloxaninduced Diabetic Rats
- Determination of Mercury in Ayurvedic Dietary Supplements That are Not Rasa Shastra Using the Hydra-C Direct Mercury Analyzer
- Heavy Metal Profile of Shilajit Samples Obtained from Gilgit and Chellas Pakistan