Shilajit may not be the best known of natural health treatments in the western world but Ayurvedic practitioners have recognized its potent healing abilities for many centuries.
It has been traditionally used for conditions ranging from skin health to male fertility and energy. If you want to find out more about this amazing mineral deposit and how you can use it then read on.
What is Shilajit?
Shilajit is actually an ancient mineral deposit which is composed of decomposed remains of plant life and humus. After millions of years of being pressed between rock layers, these components are gradually transformed into a gummy textured substance.
The substance ranges in color from black to brown and even white. The shilajit itself oozes out of cracks in the rocks before settling on the rock’s surface in high, mountainous areas like the Himalayas.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine has long valued shilajit regarding it as one of the most potent rejuvenating and anti-aging substances on earth.
Shilajit is often referred to in the English language as ‘mineral pitch’ while its Sanskrit name is translated into ‘invincible rock’ because of its wide range of purported health benefits.
Historical Facts about Shilajit
While there is mention in the ancient Vedic text about the use of shilajit, it was more recently brought back to light by natives of the Himalayas. The locals of the region noticed that white monkeys that had migrated into the region for the summer were especially healthy and long living.
They also noticed that the monkeys constantly chewed on a peculiar black substance. According to this version of events, the locals followed these monkeys across the mountain where they were observed peeling the gummy substance from the rock’s surface.
With their interest sufficiently piqued, the locals brought the substance back to their villages and began to consume it and the rest as they say is history.
Shilajit Nutritional Facts
The locals who started eating shilajit immediately noticed its benefits but why would this gummy looking substance leaking from high altitude rocks have this effect? The answer according to analysis is that shilajit contains a number of important compounds and antioxidants including fulvic acid, humic acids and triterpenes.
It is also contains vitamins A and B as well as various trace minerals. These minerals have been preserved in ionic form meaning that they are easily activated in the body as soon as shilajit is consumed.
The composition and quality of shilajit varies depending on the region from which it was cultivated and of course this variation will make a difference when you are taking it for your health. Shilajit can be found in several high altitude mountains including the Caucasus and the mountains of Australia but the best quality shilajit comes from the Himalayas.
According to experts Himalayan shilajit has the highest antioxidant content and the best health properties so make sure that you are getting the right stuff.
Benefits of Shilajit
Shilajit is often marketed towards men because of its purported ability to boost male hormones and fertility but that does not mean that women so not glean any benefits from using it as we shall see.
While the journals are not overflowing with research into the mineral, the few studies to date have demonstrated that shilajit has great potential to treat a number of health issues.
1) Shilajit for Fertility
Rising rates of infertility have sent plenty of couples looking for alternative and safe treatment options and there may be some hope in the shape of shilajit. Recent studies have demonstrated that there may well be some truth to the ancient Ayurvedic use of the mineral for improving male fertility issues.
An Indian study published in 2010 set out to evaluate the efficacy of shilajit on 60 infertile male participants by treating them with the mineral twice each day for a period of 90 days.
By the end of this period, the sperm count of the participants had increased by an incredible 60% while sperm motility also increased significantly. Researchers noted that shilajit produced no ill effects and that its traditional use to improve fertility was justified. (1)
2) Shilajit for Testosterone
Apart from increasing the number and motility of a man’s sperm, taking shilajit can also have a pronounced effect on testosterone levels. Men with low levels of testosterone are more prone to fatigue, weight gain and emotional upset so this natural treatment can go a long way to improving male health and well-being.
Higher levels of testosterone can also help protect the muscles and bones from damage and improve concentration levels.
3) Shilajit for Energy
The populations of areas where shilajit is traditionally consumed tend to be extremely fit and have high levels of endurance. Of course, living at altitude in the fresh air of the mountains will have a huge effect in its own right but there is speculation that much of this good health comes down to consuming shilajit on a regular basis.
Recent research out of India published in 2012 sought to validate this theory by analyzing its endurance enhancing effects on rats. They discovered that shilajit was effective in increasing energy and endurance and improved energy production at the cellular level. (2)
When the cells are properly nourished in this way, you are likely to feel more alert and awake for longer periods, your body will operate better for longer and you can also recover more quickly. Because of this, shilajit may have some potential for athletes who are looking to improve their performance naturally.
4) Shilajit For the Brain
Simply by boosting the body’s testosterone levels, shilajit can have a profound effect on thinking ability and concentration but researchers have also been able to identify the beneficial effects of certain molecules found in the mineral.
These molecules known as dibezno pyrones protect certain chemicals needed for cognitive function and memory from breaking down. (3)
Moreover, there have also been studies which show that the fulvic acid present in shilajit may have the potential to protect against and treat degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. (4) The researchers who published their results in 2012 noted that shilajit was a very safe supplement with excellent benefits for the brain and the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s.
5) Shilajit for Heart Health
According to recent research, shilajit may also be able to protect your most important organ from damage. A study conducted on animals set out to examine the effects of shilajit on the heart and found that animals dosed with the mineral exhibited les cardiac damage than those that were not fed any.
The researchers were unsure of the precise mechanisms nut felt that the cardio protective benefits offered must be related to more than just its antioxidant abilities. (5)
6) Shilajit for the Skin
Any source of natural antioxidants is important to protect the cells against oxidative damage from free radicals. This cellular destruction can have a devastating impact on the health and lead to many serious illnesses.
It also has a destructive effect on the skin leaving you wrinkled and marked and making you look older before your time. The fulvic acid found in shilajit delivers vital antioxidants to your body and minerals to the cells where they get to work against the damage caused and help regenerate the internal organs and rejuvenate the skin.
How to use Shilajit
There are no precise dosage guidelines but experts recommend that you build up your intake gradually. You should start by taking a piece of shilajit no larger than a grain of rice, about 100 mgs, once a day and after several days increase the dose to something approximating the size of a pea or around 300 mgs.
If you suffer from any unexpected side effects like difficulty sleeping or stomach upset, then you should reduce your dosage until your body has adjusted to it.
Shilajit has traditionally been mixed with a warm drink like an herbal tea or warm milk. It dissolves entirely within a few minutes but you can sped this up by flattening the mineral with a spoon and stirring it into your tea.
When used correctly, shilajit is not expected to cause any severe side effects. However, when a consumer is also taking iron supplements there is the possibility that an excess of iron will build in the bloodstream. This could in extreme cases lead to gout flare ups or even reduce blood pressure.