Shilajit is a natural compound that seeps out of sedimentary rock in certain regions of the world. It is best known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, despite a long history of traditional use, there’s very little high-quality human research on it.
Shilajit is most often used for
Shilajit is a brown/black tar-like exudate that seeps from sedimentary rocks in mountainous regions worldwide, most notably in the Himalayas. Accordingly, shilajit has been called “sweat of mountains” or “mountain blood”. Shilajit is formed through the gradual decomposition of plant and animal compounds by microorganisms, and its composition (and biological activity) can vary with geographic location and environmental factors. The main components of shilajit include fulvic acid, dibenzo-α-pyrones (DBPs) (also known as urolithins), DBP chromoproteins (DCPs), humic acid, and over 40 trace minerals; the first three are considered the principal active ingredients. Shilajit is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and has a long history of use in traditional folk medicine, where it is utilized for a wide range of ailments. In Ayurvedic medicine, shilajit is considered a rasayana, meaning it’s believed to enhance vitality and longevity. Currently, there’s only a small amount of human research on shilajit.
Despite thousands of years of use in traditional folk medicine, human clinical trials examining the effects of shilajit are limited in number and generally of low methodological quality. Research (primarily in vitro and animal studies) suggests that shilajit may be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and adaptogen, with anti-ulcer, anabolic, anti-diabetic, and immune-system-modulating properties.
Preliminary research in humans has found positive effects of shilajit on various parameters of health, although these findings are generally based on just one or two trials and require confirmation by larger, high-quality studies. Shilajit might support: male fertility, through increases in testosterone and improvements to sperm count and quality; the integrity of various body tissues (e.g., muscle, connective, skin), through increases in the production of extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., collagen) and/or tissue blood flow; and bone health, through increases in bone mineral density and reductions in markers of bone turnover. Shilajit seems to improve antioxidant status and reduce a biomarker of systemic inflammation (hsCRP).
While shijalit seems promising on several fronts, there are too few studies to draw any conclusions at this time.
Given the nature of shilajit, there can be a lot of variability in its composition, meaning the results achieved in a particular study may not be replicable with a different product. Some trials did not determine the composition of the shilajit being used, while many others used a patented and standardized shilajit formulation, PrimaVie®. However, while it is ideal to use a standardized product, all of the studies that used PrimaVie® were partially or fully funded by the manufacturer.
Shilajit seems to be quite safe, with no evidence of toxicity based on the available human and animal data. However, using shilajit that has not been properly processed/purified is not advised, as it may contain mycotoxins, heavy metals, and other potentially harmful compounds.
Exactly how shilajit works in the body is largely unknown, but it appears to involve various mechanisms. The principal active compounds in shilajit — fulvic acid, DBPs, and DCPs — are potent antioxidants that seem to enhance the body’s antioxidant capacity and reduce oxidative stress, which may be behind many of the observed effects of shilajit. For example, shilajit has been found to increase blood levels of antioxidant enzymes (e.g., superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase), increase levels of the body’s own antioxidants (e.g., glutathione, vitamin C, vitamin E), and reduce malondialdehyde. Shilajit seems to support tissue integrity at least in part by inducing the expression of genes involved in the production of extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., collagen, elastin, fibronectin) and blood vessel formation.
- Mineral Pitch
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Shilajit is usually processed into a powder or taken in a purified resin form. The exact composition of shilajit can vary based on geographical region, which may also impact its biological effects. Ideally, a product should be standardized to contain a certain amount of fulvic acid, DBPs, and DCPs. For example, PrimaVie® — a patented, purified shilajit extract used in many trials — is standardized to contain ≥50% fulvic acid and ≥10.3% DBPs/DCPs.
In clinical trials, shilajit dosing has ranged from 200 to 2000 mg daily, although the most commonly used dosing regimen seems to be 500 mg daily, split into two daily doses. Research on shilajit is in the early stages; therefore, optimal dosing regimens for particular outcomes still need to be determined.
- ^Pandit S, Biswas S, Jana U, De RK, Mukhopadhyay SC, Biswas TKClinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers.Andrologia.(2016-Jun)
- ^Biswas TK, Pandit S, Mondal S, Biswas SK, Jana U, Ghosh T, Tripathi PC, Debnath PK, Auddy RG, Auddy BClinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermiaAndrologia.(2010 Feb)
- ^Pingali U, Nutalapati CShilajit extract reduces oxidative stress, inflammation, and bone loss to dose-dependently preserve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.Phytomedicine.(2022-Oct)
- ^Stohs SJSafety and efficacy of shilajit (mumie, moomiyo).Phytother Res.(2014-Apr)
- ^Das A, Datta S, Rhea B, Sinha M, Veeraragavan M, Gordillo G, Roy SThe Human Skeletal Muscle Transcriptome in Response to Oral Shilajit Supplementation.J Med Food.(2016-Jul)
- ^Das A, S El Masry M, Gnyawali SC, Ghatak S, Singh K, Stewart R, Lewis M, Saha A, Gordillo G, Khanna SSkin Transcriptome of Middle-Aged Women Supplemented With Natural Herbo-mineral Shilajit Shows Induction of Microvascular and Extracellular Matrix Mechanisms.J Am Coll Nutr.(2019-Aug)
- ^Sharma P, Jha J, Shrinivas V, Dwivedi LK, Suresh P, Sinha MShilajit: evalution of its effects on blood chemistry of normal human subjectsAnc Sci Life.(2003 Oct)
- ^Niranjan K, Ramakanth G.S.H, Nishat F, Usharani PEvaluation of the Effect of Purified Aqueous Extract of Shilajit in Modifying Cardiovascular Risk with Special Reference to Endothelial Dysfunction in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes MellitusInternational Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research.(2016 Apr)
- ^Bhattacharyya S, Pal D, Gupta A, Ganguly P, Majumder U, Ghosal, SBeneficial Effect of Processed Shilajit on Swimming Exercise Induced Impaired Energy Status of MicePharmacologyonline.(2009 Jan)
- ^Visser SAEffect of humic substances on mitochondrial respiration and oxidative phosphorylation.Sci Total Environ.(1987-Apr)
- ^Keller JL, Housh TJ, Hill EC, Smith CM, Schmidt RJ, Johnson GOThe effects of Shilajit supplementation on fatigue-induced decreases in muscular strength and serum hydroxyproline levels.J Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2019-Feb-06)
- ^Schliebs R, Liebmann A, Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S, Bigl VSystemic administration of defined extracts from Withania somnifera (Indian Ginseng) and Shilajit differentially affects cholinergic but not glutamatergic and GABAergic markers in rat brain.Neurochem Int.(1997-Feb)
- ^Cornejo A, Jiménez JM, Caballero L, Melo F, Maccioni RBFulvic acid inhibits aggregation and promotes disassembly of tau fibrils associated with Alzheimer's disease.J Alzheimers Dis.(2011)
- ^Guzman-Martinez L, Farías GA, Tapia JP, Sánchez MP, Fuentes P, Gloger S, Maccioni RBInterventional Study to Evaluate the Clinical Effects and Safety of the Nutraceutical Compound BrainUp-10® in a Cohort of Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Trial.J Alzheimers Dis.(2021)
- ^Carrasco-Gallardo C, Farías GA, Fuentes P, Crespo F, Maccioni RBCan nutraceuticals prevent Alzheimer's disease? Potential therapeutic role of a formulation containing shilajit and complex B vitamins.Arch Med Res.(2012-Nov)
- Lipid Peroxidation - Biswas TK, Pandit S, Mondal S, Biswas SK, Jana U, Ghosh T, Tripathi PC, Debnath PK, Auddy RG, Auddy BClinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermiaAndrologia.(2010 Feb)
- Anti-Oxidant Enzyme Profile - Sharma P, Jha J, Shrinivas V, Dwivedi LK, Suresh P, Sinha MShilajit: evalution of its effects on blood chemistry of normal human subjectsAnc Sci Life.(2003 Oct)