Shilajit – A Complete Guide

We will discuss the uses, benefits, dosage, and side effects of Shilajit based on clinical researches and ancient Ayurveda texts. Our whole motive of this discussion is to know, either Shilajit is effective or it is just a hoax.

Shilajit is a wonder medicine of Ayurveda that has been used for 50+ diseases for 3000+ years. Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita mention that Shilajit can cure every disease and can increase longevity from 100 to 1000 years. Shilajit is considered a Rasayana (rejuvenating) in Ayurveda. It is a mineral that exudes from the rocks of the Himalayas due to the extreme heat of the sun and has the divine healing power of these great mountains.

In ancient Ayurveda, Shilajit is primarily used for diabetes and urinary diseases but also for many other problems. Medical science has conducted numerous clinical researches on humans and animals to understand the properties and effects of Shilajit. There are numerous Shilajit supplements available in the market that make bold claims. We will discuss the uses, benefits, dosage, and side effects of Shilajit based on clinical researches and ancient Ayurveda texts. Our whole motive of this discussion is to know, either Shilajit is effective or it is just a hoax.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Shilajit
  2. Shilajit Other Names
  3. Shilajit Types
  4. Traditional Uses of Shilajit
  5. Modern Uses of Shilajit
  6. Clinical Trials on Shilajit
    1. Shilajit Effect on Sperm Quality & Testosterone in Infertile Patients
    2. Shilajit Effect on Testosterone Levels in Healthy Persons
    3. Shilajit Effect on Blood Chemistry in Normal Humans
    4. Shilajit Effect on Oxidative Stress in Diabetes Patients
    5. Shilajit Effect on Exercise-Induced Fatigue
    6. Shilajit Effect on Skeletal Muscle Adaptation in Overweight Adults
    7. Shilajit Effect on ART in HIV Patients
  7. Conflict of Interest in Clinical Trials
  8. How to Use Shilajit
  9. How Long Does It Take for Shilajit to Work
  10. Shilajit Side Effects
  11. How to Identify Original Shilajit
  12. Conclusion
  13. References

What is Shilajit?

More than 220 minerals and metal substances are used in the Indian medical system (Ayurveda and Siddha medicine) and Shilajit is one among them. It is a tar-like sticky brown to blackish organic matter that exudes from the steep rocks of mountains, mainly found in the Himalayas at heights between 1000 and 5000 meters. It is also found in other countries, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, China, Mongolia, Australia, and Tajikistan. It is mentioned in Sushrut Samhita that the latex juice of plants exudates from the mountain rocks in the form of Shilajit, especially in May and June due to the heat of the sun.

“Stones of metal like gold etc., in the mountains, get heated up by the sun and the exudates that come out of them in the form of smooth and clean gum is called Shilajatu” – Charaka Samhita

“A gelatinous substance that is secreted from the side of the mountains when they have become heated by the rays of the sun in the months of Jyaishta (May-June) and Ashadha (June-July). This substance is what is known as Shilajatu and it cures all distempers of the body.” – Sushruta Samhita

Shilajit Other Names

Shilajit is called by various names in different countries and languages. Here is a list of Shilajit names:

LanguageName
ArabicHajar-al-musa
BengaliSilajatu, Shilajit
BotanicalBitumen Mineral
EnglishAsphalt, Mineral pitch, Jeus Pitch, Bitumen
GermanMumie, Salhumin
GujratiSilajita
HindiShilajit, Ral-Yahudi
LatinAsphaltum, Asphaltum Punjabinum
PersianMomiai-fqurul-yahud
RussianMummio, Mumie, Myemu
SanskritShilajatu, Shilaras, Silajit, Silaras
TamilPerangyum, Uerangyumka, Kalmatum
Synonyms of Shilajit

The word Shilajit means “winner of the mountains”, “destroyer of weakness” or “sweat of the mountains”. The most common name after Shilajit and Shilajatu is mumie, mumiyo, and mummiyo which means “the tears of mountains”. The Latin word “Asphaltum Punjabinum” is commonly written on supplement labels.

In Ayurveda, the name of a particular thing conveys its features. Here you can see the Sanskrit names of Shilajit and their meaning.

  • Girija – something that comes from mountains.
  • Laksha – a wax-like gummy substance.
  • Ushnaja – something that takes birth from heat.
  • Niryas – something that exudates.

Shilajit is used in many ayurvedic formulas and propriety drugs. You can find Shilajit in powder form, capsule form, liquid form, standalone pure form, and also in combination with other herbs/drugs.

Shilajit Types

There are two types of Shilajit available; one is Gomuthira (Goumutra) Shilajit and the other is Karpura (Kapoor) Shilajit. Gomuthira Shilajit is further classified into four types as suvarnja, raupyaja, tamraja, and lohja. These are called gold ore Shilajit, silver ore Shilajit, copper ore Shilajit and iron ore Shilajit in English, respectively. All these Shilajit types are mentioned in Charaka Samhita.

  1. Suvarnja = Suvarn (Gold) + Ja (Birth)
  2. Raupyaja = Raupya (Silver) + Ja (Birth)
  3. Tamraja = Tamra (Copper) + Ja (Birth)
  4. Lohja = Loh (Iron) + Ja (Birth)

These names are based on the prevalence of the metal in rocks from where the Shilajit exudes. For example, if the Shilajit exudes from a mountain that has a high quantity of iron, it will be called “Iron ore Shilajit” or “Lohja Shilajit”.

Every Shilajit has a different color.

Shilajit TypeColor
Gold ShilajitRed
Silver ShilajitWhite
Copper ShilajitBlue
Iron ShilajitBlack
Shilajit Types and Colors

Sushruta Samhita mentions six types of Shilajit in addition to the four types listed above. Two more types are tin ore Shilajit and lead ore Shilajit.

“The presence of the six kinds of metal, such as tin, lead, copper, silver, gold, and black-iron, in their essential form in the substance (Silajatu), may be detected by their respective smell and hence it is known to the people by the name of Shad-Yoni (lit.—having six different origins).” – Sushruta Samhita

Vagbhata also states six types of Shilajit (same as Sushruta) in his book Ashtanga Hridaya Saṃhita.

Charak and Vagbhata says that lohja (iron) shiljait is best and Sushruta says that suvarnja (gold) Shilajit is best. The most widely used is iron Shilajit as other types are very rare and hard to find.

Traditional Uses of Shilajit

As per the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita & Ashtanga Hridaya Saṃhita, Shilajit is a rejuvenator, laxative, diuretic, expectorant, lithotriptic, immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. It is used in Ayurveda for the following diseases:

  1. Panacea & Longevity – Panacea means a “cure-all” medicine. All major ayurvedic texts state that if Shilajit is used at the appropriate time and in perfect combination with other suitable medicines, can cure every disease. Charaka says that Shilajit can extend human life to a thousand years.
  2. Skin Diseases – Shilajit can cure almost all types of skin diseases including leprosy. Leprosy is a serious skin disease caused by bacterial infection.
  3. Digestive Disorders – Shilajit can cure poor digestion problems, piles, hemorrhoids, anorexia, intestinal worms, jaundice, obesity, enlarged spleen. Shilajit is also used for general weight loss.
  4. Fever – Shilajit can cure all types of fever.
  5. Tumor – A tumor is an accumulation of abnormal cells in the body. If a tumor continues to grow and spread, it becomes cancer. Ayurveda says that this life-threatening disease can be cured by Shilajit.
  6. Neurological Disorders – Shilajit can cure epilepsy and insanity also.
  7. Respiratory Disorders – Shilajit is also used to treat cough, lung infection, asthma, and tuberculosis.
  8. Urinary Disorders – Shilajit can treat many urinary disorders such as dysuria, stones in the bladder, and infections in the urinary tract.
  9. Diabetes – Sushruta Samhita states that pure Shilajit can completely cure the problem of diabetes.
  10. Edema & Elephantiasis – Edema is caused when small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues and results in painful swelling and stiffness in the affected area. Elephantiasis is caused by obstruction of the lymphatic system and results in swelling in the legs, arms, and genitalia. Ayurveda suggests that Shilajit can cure these problems.

Modern Uses of Shilajit

In modern times, Shilajit, standalone or in combination with other suitable medicines, is used to treat a wide variety of disease as follows:

  1. Sexual Wellbeing – Shilajit is used for sexual debility, sexual vitality, infertility, menstrual disorders, testosterone enhancer, aphrodisiac, erectile dysfunction, libido booster.
  2. Liver, Gallbladder & Gastrointestinal Disorders – Used to treat digestive problems, parasite infection, vomiting, piles, constipation, jaundice, gall stones, obesity.
  3. Urinary Disorders – Used to treat renal glycosuria, spermoruia, lithuria, cystitis, dysuria, and many types of urinary tract infections.
  4. Orthopedic & Rheumatological Disorders – Shilajit is also used for arthritis, osteoarthritis, spondylosis, bone strength, bone fractures, and recovery.
  5. Respiratory Disorders – Treats asthma, bronchitis, and dyspnoea.
  6. Skin Problems – Used to treat almost all types of skin disease.
  7. Sports Supplement – Shilajit is also used in sports to increase muscle, strength, and endurance.
  8. Neurological Disorders – Used to treat depression, stress, insanity, and epilepsy.
  9. Cancer, AIDS & Diabetes – Also used to treat cancer, AIDS, and diabetes.

Clinical Trials on Shilajit

After conducting numerous studies on animals/rats, scientists came to know that Shilajit has many therapeutic properties, such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory activity, anti-diabetic, memory booster, antimicrobial, cardiovascular health, reproductive and hormonal actions.

After these preclinical studies, scientists conducted many studies to understand the effect of Shilajit on humans.

Shilajit Effect on Sperm Quality & Testosterone in Infertile Patients

In 2010, a study3 was conducted on 35 infertile patients (age 30-45 years, sperm count below 20 million) to understand the effect of Shilajit on sperm quality and testosterone levels. For the study, 100 mg Shilajit, two times a day was given to patients for 90 days.

ParameterChange %
Spermia (ml)+37.60%
Total Sperm Count (million/ml)+61.40%
Motility (after 120 min)+17.40%
Haemoglobin (mg/dl)+5.20%
Testosterone (ng/ml)+23.50%
MDA (Oxidative Stress)-18.70%
Change in parameters after 90 days of Shilajit use

In the above table, you can see that the treatment showed a significant improvement in spermia, total sperm count, sperm motility, and testosterone levels. Shilajit also reduced MDA which is a marker for oxidative stress.

Shilajit Effect on Testosterone Levels in Healthy Persons

The previous study4 was conducted on infertile patients. This study was conducted on 75 healthy persons (age 45-55 years) to understand the effect of Shilajit on testosterone levels. 250 mg Shilajit, 2 times a day was administered for 90 days. After 90 days the results were as follows:

ParameterChange %
Testosterone Levels+20.45%
Free Testosterone+19.14%
DHEA+31.34%
LH+7.26%
FSH+21.18%
Change in parameters after 90 days of Shilajit use

In the above table, you can see that Shilajit significantly increased total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) compared with placebo in 90 days. Gonadotropic hormones (LH and FSH) levels were well maintained.

Shilajit Effect on Blood Chemistry in Normal Humans

A study5 was conducted on 30 healthy persons (age 16-30 years) to understand the effect of Shilajit on blood chemistry. During the study, 2000 mg Shilajit per day was administered for 45 days. After 45 days the results were as follows:

ParametersChange %
Triglycerides-20.70%
Cholesterol-13.90%
HDL+5.80%
LDL-22.60%
VLDL-20.60%
SOD+25.00%
Vitamin C+37.50%
Vitamin E+34.73%
Change in parameters after 45 days of Shilajit use

After 45 days of Shilajit use, a signification reduction in Serum Triglycerides, Serum cholesterol with simultaneous improvement in HDL Cholesterol was seen, besides Shilajit also improved antioxidant status of volunteers. Results of study suggest hypolipidemic and strong antioxidant activity of Shilajit.

Shilajit Effect on Oxidative Stress in Diabetes Patients

A study6 was conducted on 61 diabetes patients (age 31-70) to understand the effect of Shilajit on oxidative stress. 500 mg Shilajit, two times a day was administered for 45 days. The results are as follows:

MDA LevelOld15.56 nmol/ml plasma
New6.52 nmol/ml plasma
Change %58 % decrease
Catalase LevelOld2,814.22 μmol/ml hemolysate
New3,151.68 μmol/ml hemolysate
Change %12 % increase
Change in MDA & Catalase levels after 45 days of Shilajit use

Treatment with Shilajit exhibited a significant decrease in values of MDA, whereas values of catalase were significantly increased. It show that Shilajit is effective to reduce oxidative stress in diabetes patients.

Shilajit Effect on Exercise Induced Fatigue

Research7 conducted on 63 healthy persons shows that a dose of 500 mg Shilajit per day for 8 weeks may help to maintain strength and reduce exercise-induced fatigue.

Shilajit Effect on Skeletal Muscle Adaptation in Overweight Adults

A study8 was conducted on 16 (age ~35.7 years, 6 males 10 females) overweight adults to understand the effect of Shilajit on skeletal muscle adaptation. 8 weeks of 250 mg of oral Shilajit supplementation and after that additional 4 weeks of supplementation with exercise was administered on subjects.

The study provided maiden evidence that oral Shilajit supplementation in adult overweight/class I obese human subjects promoted skeletal muscle adaptation through upregulation of ECM-related genes that control muscle mechanotransduction properties, elasticity, repair, and regeneration.

Shilajit Effect on ART in HIV Patients

Human Immuno Deficiency (HIV) virus or AIDS is a serious disease and no vaccine or cure is available till now. The therapy used to treat HIV is called ART (antiretroviral therapy). ART can’t cure HIV, but can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission. In ART, a combination of medicines is given to the patient.

A study9 was conducted on 20 HIV patients (age 20-50 years) who were receiving ART. These 20 patients were divided into Treated group (Shilajatu+ART) and Control group (ART). Treated group was given 500 mg Shilajit everyday for 3 months.

Study showed that Treated Group responded better to ART both clinically and biochemically. Study suggests that Shilajatu decreases the recurrent resistance of HIV virus to ART and improves the outcome of the therapy.

Conflict of Interest in Clinical Trials

Almost all human-based clinical studies are supported or funded by Natreon Inc, 2D Janine Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. The product used in these studies is PrimaVie which was manufactured by Natreon Inc. So, there is a conflict of interest. A “conflict of interest” in research exists where an individual may prefer, or be perceived to preference, their own interests or obligations over their duties and responsibilities as a researcher. In simple terms, these human-based clinical studies can be biased.

How to Use Shilajit

Please read Medical Disclaimer on “Terms of Use” page before reading any further.

Shilajit is available in standalone form and combination. If you are using a combination (where Shilajit is mixed with other drugs), then read the supplement label carefully to understand the dosage and frequency. If you are using Shilajit in a pure form then 100-250 mg, twice a day, with milk or water, 30 minutes after breakfast and dinner is sufficient. Never consume more than 500 mg pure Shilajit in one day.

As per studies, Shilajit dosage for testosterone is between 200 mg to 500 mg per day. One can take 100 mg to 250 mg Shilajit with water/milk, 30 minutes after breakfast and dinner. Shilajit dosage for erectile dysfunction is same as for testosterone. One should also add Ashwagandha and Zinc supplement to one’s diet for better and faster results.

Shilajit should be used with Ashwagandha to improve sexual wellbeing and with Gokshura to treat urinary disorders. For male infertility, Shilajit should be used with Ashwagandha. For female infertility, Shilajit should be used with Shatavari. For prevention and treatment of diabetes mellitus, Shilajit should be used with Gumar.

A person who is using Shilajit should avoid Kulattha, Horse Gram, Pigeon Meat and Kakamachi for the period that Shilajit remains in the body.

Some people use Shilajit to treat kidney stones but one should never use Shilajit if the stones are made of uric acid. Shilajit can increase uric acid in such patients and can be harmful. For the same reason, Shilajit should not be used for gouty arthritis.

How Long Does It Take for Shilajit to Work

One can use 200 to 500 mg Shilajit per day to get results. It usually takes 30 to 60 days to get significant and noticeable results. Please read above section on how to use Shilajit for more detail.

Tips to get faster and better results:

  1. Add fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  2. Eat a handful of nuts and seeds everyday.
  3. Exercise at least 45 minutes, either it is yoga, gym or any sports.
  4. Increase green time (park, trees, friends, family) and reduce screen time (mobile, tv, laptop).
  5. Must sleep 8 hours a day.

Shilajit Side Effects

In a placebo-controlled study6, 2000 mg Shilajit was given daily for 45 days to human subjects but no side effect was noticed.

In one another study3, 200 mg Shilajit was given to human subjects for 90 days and no side effect was noticed.

As per studies, we can say that Shilajit is safe if used in moderate amounts for 3 months. We don’t have data for more than 3 months of use.

How to Identify Original Shilajit

Shilajit is a rare mineral and hard to find. Due to its numerous benefits and increased demand, people are selling fake Shilajit.

Most commonly, Ozokerite is used as a fake Shilajit. Ozokerite is a wax that looks like Shilajit but has no medicinal properties.

The most common methods used to test Shilajit purity are the fire test and the solubility test.

Fire Test: It is said that the original Shilajit does not catch fire. It is not a reliable method to test Shilajit because there are so many other substances that do not catch fire but look like Shilajit.

Solubility Test: Many people say that Shilajit is soluble in water but not in alcohol. People try to test Shilajit by mixing it in alcohol but this method is also not reliable. A study suggests that Shilajit is soluble in water as well as alcohol. So this method is also controversial.

No domestic method can test Shilajit purity or originality. In simple terms, you can not test Shilajit in your kitchen. It can only be tested in laboratories.

You will find numerous articles and videos on the internet explaining different methods to test Shilajit but no test is reliable. So you should not waste your time.

Conclusion

As per Ayurveda texts, pre-clinical studies, and human-based clinical trials, we can say that Shilajit is an effective supplement. But we need more independent studies to understand it completely.

References

  1. Wilson, E., Rajamanickam, G. V., Dubey, G. P., Klose, P., Musial, F., Saha, F. J., Rampp, T., Michalsen, A., & Dobos, G. J. (2011). Review on shilajit used in traditional Indian medicine. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 136(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.033
  2. Shailesh K. Bhavsar, Aswin M. Thaker, Jitendra K. Malik, Chapter 51 – Shilajit, Editor(s): Ramesh C. Gupta, Nutraceuticals, Academic Press, 2016, Pages 707-716, ISBN 9780128021477, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802147-7.00051-6.
  3. Biswas, T. K., Pandit, S., Mondal, S., Biswas, S. K., Jana, U., Ghosh, T., Tripathi, P. C., Debnath, P. K., Auddy, R. G., & Auddy, B. (2010). Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermia. Andrologia, 42(1), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0272.2009.00956.x
  4. Pandit, S., Biswas, S., Jana, U., De, R. K., Mukhopadhyay, S. C., & Biswas, T. K. (2016). Clinical evaluation of purified Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers. Andrologia, 48(5), 570–575. https://doi.org/10.1111/and.12482
  5. Saxena, N., Dwivedi, U. N., Singh, R. K., Kumar, A., Saxena, C., Saxena, R. C., & Saxena, M. (2003). Modulation of oxidative and antioxidative status in diabetes by asphaltum panjabinum. Diabetes care, 26(8), 2469–2470. https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.26.8.2469-a
  6. Saxena, N., Dwivedi, U. N., Singh, R. K., Kumar, A., Saxena, C., Saxena, R. C., & Saxena, M. (2003). Modulation of oxidative and antioxidative status in diabetes by asphaltum panjabinum. Diabetes care, 26(8), 2469–2470. https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.26.8.2469-a
  7. Keller, J. L., Housh, T. J., Hill, E. C., Smith, C. M., Schmidt, R. J., & Johnson, G. O. (2019). The effects of Shilajit supplementation on fatigue-induced decreases in muscular strength and serum hydroxyproline levels. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 16(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-019-0270-2
  8. Das, A., Datta, S., Rhea, B., Sinha, M., Veeraragavan, M., Gordillo, G., & Roy, S. (2016). The Human Skeletal Muscle Transcriptome in Response to Oral Shilajit Supplementation. Journal of medicinal food, 19(7), 701–709. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2016.0010
  9. Gupta, G. D., Sujatha, N., Dhanik, A., & Rai, N. P. (2010). Clinical Evaluation of Shilajatu Rasayana in patients with HIV Infection. Ayu, 31(1), 28–32. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.68205

Author: Vikas Dhavaria

A free spirit who loves to read books. Interested in philosophy and nutrition.

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