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Shilajit: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects By Dr. Anuja Bodhare

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction

Shilajit (purified) is an Ayurvedic drug used in the indigenous system of Indian medicine.1 Shilajit has been known and used for centuries in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. So, you might be wondering, “What is shilajit?” It is a blackish-brown powder or exudate obtained from high mountain rocks in the Himalayan mountains between India and Nepal. It is also found in Afghanistan, Tibet, Russia, and north Chile. In north India, it is known as shilajatu, salajit, mummiyo or mimie.2

benfits of shilajit

Shilajit is an important drug listed in the Ayurvedic Materia medica and is extensively used by Ayurvedic physicians for managing a range of diseases. Shilajit is regarded to potentially carry the healing powers of great mountains. It is composed of rock minerals, rock humus, and organic substances that have been compressed by layers of rock.1 So, to answer the question “What is Shilajit,” it is a unique substance with various traditional uses in Ayurvedic medicine.

Did you know?

  • Shilajit has been shown to have potential uses in the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. source: ncbi 
  • Shilajit has been used traditionally for the treatment of chronic bronchitis, anemia, and enlarged spleen. source:ncbi 
  • Shilajit has been used traditionally for genitourinary disorders, jaundice, digestive disorders, and nervous disorders. source: ncbi 
  • Fulvic acid in shilajit has been found to block tau self-aggregation, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. source: ncbi 
  • Shilajit has a negative chronotropic effect on the heart of Daphnia at low concentrations. source: ncbi 

Chemical Components of Shilajit

Shilajit is composed of humins, humic acid and fulvic acid. Fulvic acid is the major component that accounts for 60 to 80% of its nutraceutical components. Other components present in Shilajit are fatty acids, resins, albumins, polyphenols, phenolic lipids, triterpenes, sterols, aromatic carboxylic acids, coumarins, latex, gums and amino acids.2    

Shilajit also contains more than 84 minerals, including silver, copper, zinc and iron.3

Properties of Shilajit

The properties of Shilajit are as follows:

  • It may have anti-inflammatory activity
  • It may have antioxidant properties
  • It may have memory-enhancing properties
  • It may have anti-Alzheimer properties
  • It may have a blood sugar-lowering effect
  • It may have anti-asthmatic properties
  • It may have anti-tumour activity
  • It may help in seizure
  • It may benefit heart, kidney and liver health
  • It may have digestive properties.1,2,4

Did you know that shilajit is composed mainly of humic substances, particularly fulvic acid, which makes up approximately 60% to 80% of its total nutraceutical composition? This remarkable natural substance also contains various oligoelements, including selenium, known for their potential anti-aging properties.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Also Read: Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Potential Uses of Shilajit

1. Potential uses of Shilajit for anaemia

Anaemia is characterised by a decrease in the number of red blood cells or the standard quantity of haemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency anaemia is a common type of anaemia. Shilajit benefits include its iron content. When taken as a dietary supplement, it was observed that Shilajit increased the haemoglobin level in an animal study, showcasing potential shilajit benefits for anaemia. Taking Shilajit as a dietary supplement might be beneficial in the management of iron deficiency anaemia.4 However, this information is insufficient as this study is conducted on animals. Therefore, a large-scale human study is required to suggest the potential uses of Shilajit to overcome the iron deficiency in humans.

2. Potential uses of Shilajit for muscle fatigue

Shilajit supplementation might be beneficial in boosting exercise performance by enhancing fatigue-related metabolic characteristics and increasing muscle mass and strength. In a clinical study, supplementation with Shilajit had favourable effects on the retention of muscular strength after an exhausting task demonstrating potential Shilajit benefits for muscle fatigue.5 However, further studies are required to suggest the benefits of Shilajit for muscle fatigue.

Be careful when considering the consumption of shilajit! It’s important to note that unprocessed shilajit may contain substances such as mycotoxins, heavy metals, polymeric quinones, and free radicals, which can pose potential health risks.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

3. Potential uses of Shilajit for the heart  

Various experimental studies have shown the beneficial effects of Shilajit on lipid profile, demonstrating potential shilajit health benefits. Shilajit showed prominent practical action against injuries to the heart muscles in an animal model. It lessened the harmful effects on heart tissue in rats.6 However, this study is done on animals and not humans. Therefore, more human trials are required to find the true scope of Shilajit in humans.

Also Read: 8 Incredible Foods That Are Good For Your Heart

4. Potential uses of Shilajit for people living at high altitude

The common problems associated with people who ascend to high altitudes from places of low altitudes are high-altitude pulmonary oedema (fluid retention in lungs), acute mountain sickness, high-altitude cerebral oedema (swelling of the brain), lack of appetite, hypoxia (lack of enough oxygen in the tissues), insomnia, lethargy, stomach upset, physical and mental depression.

Shilajit contains fulvic acid, contributing to its potential shilajit health benefits. The fulvic acid may help stimulate energy production, and blood formation and avert hypoxia. It may also help transport nutrients to tissues and help overcome lethargy, tiredness, and chronic fatigue. Shilajit might be used as a supplement by people travelling to high altitudes.3 However, before using Shilajit while travelling, please consult it with your doctors and never use it to self-medicate yourself.

5. Potential uses of Shilajit for gastric ulcers

A peptic ulcer is a gastric (stomach) lesion that is developed when the gastric lining is exposed to aggressive agents. Oxidative stress and free radical damage are factors responsible for gastrointestinal disorders. Shilajit may have anti-ulcer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity. Therefore, Shilajit might be  a beneficial solution for stomach ulcers as a human gastroprotective (stomach protective) agent.7 However, this information is insufficient; therefore, further research on humans is necessary to develop the true extent of the potential uses of Shilajit in humans.

Based on my experience, I have observed that a monitored intake of shilajit may help reduce the occurrence of gastric ulcers. Shilajit may have protective effects on the stomach and duodenum, potentially reducing ulcer formation.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

6. Potential uses of Shilajit for Alzheimer’s disease

Fulvic acid found in Shilajit may have  memory-enhancing properties. Fulvic acid also helps the self-aggregation of tau protein into a filament (a factor involved in the development of Alzheimer’s). Shilajit may also have  the potential to be developed as a dietary supplement to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.2 However, this data is insufficient and we require more human trials to suggest the benefits of Shilajit for brain health.

Though there are studies that show the benefits of Shilajit in various health conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for more studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of Shilajit on human health.

7. Potential Uses of Shilajit for Men

Shilajit benefits for male vitality and well-being are noteworthy. It is known to enhance male vitality and address various health concerns. Shilajit may support reproductive health by promoting healthy sperm production and testosterone levels. Furthermore, it can boost energy, potentially improving stamina and athletic performance. Some men use Shilajit as a natural supplement to manage conditions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Its rich mineral content may also contribute to bone health and overall well-being. However, understanding potential shilajit side effects for males is crucial when considering its usage, particularly in higher doses or extended periods. especially if they have underlying health issues.

Check Out –EverHerb Shilajit

8. Potential Uses of Shilajit for Women

Shilajit isn’t limited to men; it offers potential benefits for women too. It can help in maintaining overall health and well-being. Shilajit is believed to assist in hormonal balance, which may alleviate symptoms of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause. Additionally, it can boost energy and enhance stamina, which can be especially beneficial for active and busy women. The rich mineral and antioxidant content in Shilajit can support healthy skin and hair. However, as with any supplement, women should consult healthcare providers before using Shilajit, especially during pregnancy or while nursing.

9. Potential Uses of Shilajit for Hair

Shilajit’s potential uses extend to hair care. This natural substance contains essential minerals and fulvic acid, which may promote hair health. Shilajit can help in reducing hair fall and strengthening hair follicles. Its antimicrobial properties might aid in preventing scalp issues like dandruff. By enhancing blood circulation to the scalp, Shilajit may stimulate hair growth and maintain lustrous, healthy locks. While it shows promise for hair care, it’s recommended to use Shilajit-based hair products or supplements after consulting with a dermatologist or trichologist.

10. Potential Uses of Shilajit for Weight Loss

Shilajit is emerging as a natural supplement in weight loss and management. It contains fulvic acid, which may support metabolism and energy production. Shilajit can help control appetite, reducing cravings and overeating. Additionally, it has antioxidant properties that can assist in detoxifying the body, potentially aiding weight loss. However, it’s essential to approach Shilajit as a part of a holistic weight loss plan, including a balanced diet and regular exercise. Consultation with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist is advised before incorporating Shilajit into a weight loss regimen.

11. Potential Uses of Shilajit for Stamina

Shilajit is renowned for its potential to boost stamina and endurance. It can enhance physical performance, making it popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Shilajit’s high mineral content contributes to muscle strength and vitality. Its role in improving oxygen delivery to tissues may delay fatigue during strenuous physical activities. Regular consumption of Shilajit may lead to increased stamina and overall fitness. Athletes and individuals seeking enhanced endurance often integrate Shilajit into their pre-workout routine. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it aligns with individual fitness goals.

Over the years, I have observed that the methanolic extract of Shilajit may have inhibitory activity against the fungus. Shilajit may have antifungal properties, potentially helping combat fungal infections.

Dr. Anuja Bodhare, MD

How to Use Shilajit?

  • Shilajit powder may be taken with milk.3
  • Shilajit is marketed in capsule form for human consumption.3

Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe you the form and dose as per your requirement. In addition, we advise you not to replace or discontinue your ongoing medications with any ayurvedic or herbal preparations made by Shilajit without consulting a qualified physician.

Side Effects of Shilajit

  • Consumption of impure Shilajit may lead to intoxication due to heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury, mycotoxin, oxidant agents, and free radicals.2 
  • Consumption of Ayurvedic products containing Shilajit has been associated with lead poisoning in some cases, underscoring the importance of being aware of potential shilajit side effects.2

However, if you experience any Shilajit side effects, immediately rush to the hospital and get appropriate treatment to overcome your side effects.

In my experience, Shilajit has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for diabetes. It has shown potential in reducing the hyperglycemic response and may have anti-diabetic properties.

Dr. Ashok Pal, BAMS

Precautions to Take With Shilajit

  • Impure Shilajit may contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic. A purified, ready to use preparation of Shilajit is fit for human consumption.2
  • Shilajit should not be used with pigeon meat, horse gram (Kulthi) and black nightshade (Solanum nigrum).3
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the use of Shilajit due to the lack of sufficient data related to its safe use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Avoid giving it to small children and older adults due to no information about its safety.

Also Read: Does Boric Acid Kill Sperm? Unraveling the Facts and Myths

What to look for before buying Shilajit supplements?

  1. Check whether the shilajit available is pure. Never buy shilajit in raw or unprocessed form. Consuming raw shilajit can make us fall sick as it may contain heavy metals, free radicals, fungus, etc.
  2. Check whether shilajit is manufactured by a reputed source.
  3.  Check whether the shilajit available is certified.

Also Read: 8 Benefits of Shilajit for Women

What is Shilajit Resin?

Shilajit resin is a processed form of Shilajit. It is purified and typically comes in a more refined, resinous consistency, with impurities removed. Shilajit resin is often considered a more concentrated and purified version of Shilajit, making it easier to use as a supplement.
Shilajit resin benefits include improved energy levels and enhanced cognitive function, making it a valuable natural supplement in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Interactions of Shilajit With Other Drugs

There is no scientific report suggesting the interactions of Shilajit with other drugs. However, people should not assume that there are no interactions at all.

Therefore, it is better to follow the advice of your Ayurvedic doctor. They will prescribe you the best way to have it.

Also Read: Triphala: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Shilajit?

Shilajit is a blackish-brown powder or exudate obtained from mountains like the Himalayas and has been used as Ayurvedic medicine.2

What is Shilajit used for?

Shilajit has been used as an ingredient for many Ayurvedic formulations. Shilajit may also be used as a nutritional supplement.2

How to take Shilajit?

Shilajit powder may be taken with milk. Products containing Shilajit are also available in the market, for example, Shilajit capsules.3 However, consult an Ayurvedic doctor before using Shilajit; they will tell you the dosage and form per your health requirements.

Is Shilajit good for health?

Shilajit may have several beneficial properties likeanti-inflammatory, antioxidant, memory enhancing, and anti-asthmatic and it might also boost heart and liver health.2,4 Thus, Shilajit may be a good Ayurvedic supplement for health. However, you should take advice from your doctors and only use it if recommended.

How to identify the original Shilajit?

As per the classical texts, an acceptable form of Shilajit should burn without smoke and puff upon being subjected to fire. Upon being added to water, it should not dissolve entirely but leave a trail as it disintegrates and travels from the surface of the water to the bottom of the container.8 It may be difficult to identify the original Shilajit; therefore, it is best to consult an Ayurvedic physician. They will tell you how to use it and which is the best Shilajit product for your health.

What is Shilajit made of?

It is composed of rock minerals, rock humus, and organic substances that have been compressed by layers of rock.1 Shilajit is composed of humins, humic acid and fulvic acid. Fulvic acid is the primary component that accounts for 60 to 80% of its nutraceutical components.2

Also Read: Mehendi: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

References

1. Pandit S, Biswas S, Jana U, De RK, Mukhopadhyay SC, Biswas TK. Clinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers. Andrologia [Internet]. 2016 Jun 1 [cited 2022 Mar 23];48(5):570–5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26395129/

2. Carrasco-Gallardo C, Guzmán L, MacCioni RB. Shilajit: A Natural Phytocomplex with Potential Procognitive Activity. International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2022 Mar 23];2012. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22482077/

 3. Meena H, Pandey HK, Arya MC, Ahmed Z. Shilajit: A panacea for high-altitude problems. International Journal of Ayurveda Research [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2022 Mar 23];1(1):37. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20532096/

4. Shilajit in management of iron deficiency anaemia [Internet]. [cited 2022 Mar 23]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288266508_Shilajit_in_management_of_iron_deficiency_anaemia

5. Keller JL, Housh TJ, Hill EC, Smith CM, Schmidt RJ, Johnson GO. The effects of Shilajit supplementation on fatigue-induced decreases in muscular strength and serum hydroxyproline levels. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition [Internet]. 2019 Feb 6 [cited 2022 Mar 23];16(1). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30728074/

6. Joukar S, Najafipour H, Dabiri S, Sheibani M, Sharokhi N. Cardioprotective Effect of Mumie (Shilajit) on Experimentally Induced Myocardial Injury. Cardiovascular Toxicology 2014 14:3 [Internet]. 2014 Jan 22 [cited 2022 Mar 23];14(3):214–21. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12012-014-9245-3

7. Ghasemkhani N, Tabrizi AS, Namazi F, Nazifi S. Treatment effects of Shilajit on aspirin”induced gastric lesions in rats. Physiological Reports [Internet]. 2021 Apr 1 [cited 2022 Mar 23];9(7). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33818003/

8. Shilajit an unique drug of ayurveda [Internet]. [cited 2022 Mar 23]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276831443_SHILAJIT_AN_UNIQUE_DRUG_OF_AYURVEDA

Also Read: Akarkara: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.
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