Shilajit is a sticky, brownish-black, and gooey substance that smells like cow urine and is extremely bitter to taste. This herbomineral drug is packed with the potential of treating diseases from gastrointestinal to cognitive in nature. To top it all, it has been found that Shilajit might have the potential to treat cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“Shilajit” is a Sanskrit word meaning “Conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness” and ‘Winner of rock’. Commonly found in the Himalayan ranges between Nepal and India, Shilajit is also called salajit, shilajatu, mimie, or mummiyo. It has also been found in Russia, Tibet, Afghanistan, and now in the north of Chile, named Andean Shilajit. Shilajit has been used by mankind to enrich their lives since ancient times. This is backed by its mention in the ancient texts. Charaka Samhita describes Shilajit as “Stones of metal like gold” while Sushruta Samhita describes it as “A gelatinous substance.” Rasarangini and Dwarishtarang also claim that Shilajit is an exudate of a latex gum-resin of plants. This substance is known as Çilájatu and cures all distempers of the body”.
How is Shilajit formed?
Shilajit can be called the nectar of rocks and rightly so because it is literally the juice of rocks. During the extreme heat of May-July, the rocks of the Himalayas crack oozing out the black liquid. This is Shilajit. It is a mass of mineral and plant remains. Its color ranges from pale brown to brownish-black.
Shilajit is formed as a result of the decomposition of organic plant materials, hence it contains humus. The heat and pressure of the rocks over time aid the process by metamorphosing the organic compounds making Shilajit a package of important minerals and compounds. It majorly contains:
- Over 84 types of minerals, including most essential minerals
- Fulvic acid, the main active ingredient
- Humic acid (and uronic acids)
- Other plant and microbial metabolites (such as dibenzo-alphapyrones)
- Small peptides and amino acids
- Some lipids
- Phenolic glycosides
Benefits of Shilajit
The benefits of Shilajit are pretty diverse. Some of the top areas are mentioned here:
- Cognitive benefits
- Muscular benefits
- Hypoxia and weakness curing
- Oxygen regulation
- Sexual wellness
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Blood circulation
If Shilajit is so potent and beneficial to humankind then why is it not commonly used by people? Well, for one it is very difficult to extract Shilajit. Considering that these rocks have to be harvested from very high mountains, it is extremely limited in quantity and difficult to procure. This also means that a good-quality Shilajit rock is costly.
Procurement is just the first step. The purification of these rocks to obtain Shilajit is a tedious and crucial step. As mentioned earlier, it is extracted from rocks, hence there are many visible and invisible impurities. If not done properly, this can be a cause of diseases rather than a cure.
Needless to say, due to all these constraints, there are many counterfeit products being sold with the tag of Shilajit available in the market. So how do you as a consumer, buy the right product.
Quality markers of Shilajit:
- Original Shilajit has an indefinite shelf life
- When left in a cold temperature,it hardens and can be rolled into a ball.
- In room temperature, it is fluid but not runny
- Shilajit doesn’t solidify under very cold temperature, it thickens and harden but doesn’t become brittle.
- It dissolves in water
- It is non-flammable
A word of caution
While Shilajit offers so many benefits, one must be cautious while administering the dosage of this drug. It generates a lot of heat in the body and it might not suit some people.
So, before starting to consume it on a regular basis, do test it out for a week, to check for any side effects. Ideally, a dose of the size of a tiny gram (chana) should be good enough. It also varies based on what form you are consuming, powder, capsule, or liquid.
Shilajit: A Natural Phytocomplex with Potential Procognitive Activity (nih.gov)
–Written by Poonam Shukla, Director, Satya International