Shilajit is a formulation of herbs and minerals that has been utilized in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing system. It has been employed in traditional herbal medicine to address a wide range of conditions. Shilajit is abundant in minerals and contains a significant compound called fulvic acid. Its origin can be traced to rock layers found in various mountain ranges globally, including the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains. Shilajit is available as a dietary supplement, and this article explores its potential uses, along with the associated risks and side effects.
It is important to note that dietary supplements are not subject to the same regulations as drugs in the United States. Consequently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not assess their safety and effectiveness prior to their market availability.
To ensure quality, it is advisable to select supplements that have been tested by reputable third-party organizations such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if a supplement has undergone third-party testing, it does not guarantee universal safety or effectiveness. Therefore, consulting with a healthcare provider regarding any planned supplement intake is crucial, particularly to identify potential interactions with other medications or supplements.
Supplement Facts on Shilajit:
- Active Ingredient(s): Fulvic acids, fusims, carotenoids.
- Alternate Name(s): Mumie, Moomiyo, Mummiyo.
- Legal Status: Currently not recognized as safe by FDA.
- Suggested Dose: No recommended dose is provided.
- Safety Considerations: Not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, or for children.
Uses of Shilajit:
The use of supplements should be personalized and endorsed by healthcare professionals such as registered dietitian nutritionists, pharmacists, or healthcare providers. It is essential to understand that no supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent diseases.
Research on the potential health benefits of shilajit is limited, with most studies conducted on laboratory animals or in the laboratory setting. While shilajit has been investigated for various health conditions such as chronic fatigue, anemia, diabetes, and chronic pain, there is insufficient evidence from human research to support its use for these conditions. More extensive research, particularly well-designed, placebo-controlled, and peer-reviewed human studies, is necessary.
Shilajit contains an antioxidant called fulvic acid. A study conducted in 2012 suggests that this fulvic acid present in shilajit may help impede the accumulation of tau, a protein associated with the formation of twisted clusters of dying nerve cells known as neurofibrillary tangles. These tangles are considered a significant marker of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Another study from 2012, which involved 16 individuals with probable Alzheimer’s disease, revealed less cognitive decline (e.g., confusion, memory loss) over 24 weeks compared to the placebo group. It is worth noting that in this study, the researchers used a combination of shilajit and B vitamins, not shilajit alone. Further research is required to determine the potential role of shilajit in Alzheimer’s disease.
In a 2010 study published in the journal Andrologia, the effects of shilajit on sperm were investigated in 35 infertile men. The participants consumed 100 milligrams (mg) of processed shilajit in capsule form twice daily for 90 days. At the conclusion of the study period, 28 participants exhibited significant increases in total sperm count, healthy sperm count, and sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move effectively).
In a small study published in 2003, improvements in cholesterol levels were observed. The study involved 30 individuals between the ages of 16 and 30. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: one group of 20 took 2 grams of shilajit daily for 45 days, while the other group of 10 took a placebo. The researchers found significant reductions in cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the shilajit group compared to the placebo group. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of developing heart disease. Additionally, the shilajit group showed improved antioxidant status, indicating better cellular protection against damage. However, the study did not find any changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, or body weight. Side Effects of Shilajit: Taking shilajit as a supplement may have potential side effects, which can vary in severity. Due to limited research, little is known about the safety of short-term or long-term use of shilajit. However, there are some possible concerns and side effects, including:
- Increased iron levels: Animal studies have indicated that shilajit may elevate iron levels. As a result, individuals with conditions such as hemochromatosis (excess iron in the blood) should avoid shilajit until further research on human studies is conducted.
- Hormone level alterations: Shilajit may affect hormone levels, including a significant increase in total testosterone levels.
- Contamination risks: Raw or unprocessed shilajit may be contaminated with heavy metals or fungi, which can lead to illness. Precautions: Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals and children should avoid consuming shilajit in any form. Additionally, individuals with hemochromatosis or concerns about testosterone should also avoid shilajit.
- Dosage: It is crucial to consult a healthcare provider before taking any supplement to determine the appropriate dosage for individual needs. There is insufficient scientific evidence to establish a standard or recommended dose of shilajit. Studies investigating shilajit have used varying amounts, usually under medical supervision. Further research is necessary to determine specific dosages for different health needs and populations.
- Potential Overdose: As mentioned earlier, there is no recommended amount of shilajit. It is important to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended dosage and not exceed it. If any side effects occur, discontinue shilajit use and consult a healthcare provider.
- Interactions: Currently, there is a lack of research on potential interactions between shilajit and other medications. It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to determine the included ingredients and their quantities. It is recommended to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications with a healthcare provider.
- Storage: Shilajit should be stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions and discarded as indicated on the packaging.
Frequently Asked Questions about Shilajit
What are the side effects of shilajit?
Potential side effects include exacerbation of certain conditions such as hemochromatosis, hormone level alterations, and the risk of contamination with metals or fungi.
Are there benefits to using shilajit?
Shilajit has been utilized in Ayurvedic medicine, and researchers are currently studying its potential role in Alzheimer's disease, high cholesterol, and other uses. However, further research is required to fully understand the benefits of shilajit.
Can pregnant individuals take shilajit?
It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals to take shilajit until more research is conducted. Sources of Shilajit and What to Look For: Shilajit is available in various forms, including capsules, powder, and liquid. It may have different colors and a strong odor. It is typically not consumed as a food source but may be added to beverages. Some products may be contaminated with harmful substances, including heavy metals, even if labeled as “purified.” There is no scientific evidence to suggest which form is superior. It is important to note that marketing a dietary supplement as a treatment or cure for a specific disease is illegal.
Shilajit is a resin rich in minerals that have been traditionally used in Ayurvedic healing. Some preliminary studies suggest potential benefits in treating mild Alzheimer’s disease and high cholesterol. However, further clinical trials involving humans are needed to understand the effects and determine appropriate dosage amounts. As with most supplements, shilajit is not regulated by the FDA, so it is important to inform healthcare providers if considering its use for any health purpose.
Mamabee uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.
- Food and Drug Administration. Shilajit resin.
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- Biswas TK, Pandit S, Mondal S, et al. Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed shilajit in oligospermia. Andrologia. 2010;42(1):48-56. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0272.2009.00956.x
- Pandit S, Biswas S, Jana U, Mukhopadhyay SC, Biswas TK. Clinical evaluation of purified shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers. Andrologia. 2016;48(5):570-575. doi:10.1111/and.12482
- Velmurugan C, Vivek B, Wilson E, Bharathi T, Sundaram T. Evaluation of safety profile of black shilajit after 91 days repeated administration in rats. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2012;2(3):210-214. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(12)60043-4