The Benefits and Risks of Shilajit

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Shilajit is a brownish-black resin discharged from layers of rock in several mountain ranges throughout the world, including the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains. Rich in minerals and a compound known as fulvic acid, shilajit is thought to form in part from the decomposition of certain plants.

Sometimes referred to as mumie, moomiyo, or mummiyo, shilajit is available in dietary supplement form.

Uses for Shilajit

Long used in Ayurvedic medicine, shilajit is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems:

In addition, shilajit is said to strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis. Some proponents also claim that shilajit can act as an adaptogen, a class of substances said to boost the body's resistance to stress, boost libido, and increase energy.

Purported Health Benefits of Shilajit

So far, research on the health effects of shilajit is very limited. However, several preliminary studies suggest that shilajit may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. According to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2012, shilajit may aid in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.

After giving laboratory rats shilajit for 21 days, scientists found that treatment with shilajit may influence several processes involved in the body's production of energy. In addition, treatment appeared to alleviate anxiety and protect against oxidative stress.

Alzheimer's Disease

Shilajit shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a progressive type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. According to a report published in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2012, the fulvic acid found in shilajit may help block the buildup of tau (a type of protein that forms neurofibrillary tangles, which are a key marker of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases).

The report's authors note, however, that a great deal more research is needed to examine shilajit's effectiveness as an Alzheimer's disease treatment.

Risks, Side Effects, and Warnings

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of shilajit. However, there's some concern that shilajit may increase the body's production of uric acid and in turn, exacerbate conditions such as gout. Shilajit may also increase iron levels, so people with conditions such as hemochromatosis (an excess of iron in the blood) should avoid it.

Shilajit may alter the body's hormone levels. In a study published in Andrologia in 2016, for instance, shilajit supplements taken twice daily for 90 days were found to raise the body's levels of total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S).

Consuming raw or unprocessed shilajit isn't recommended.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. Some products may be contaminated with other substances such as heavy metals. Even substances that are labeled purified may contain contaminants.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children shouldn't take shilajit.

You can get further tips on using supplements here, but note that self-treating any condition with shilajit and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

The Takeaway

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend shilajit as a treatment for any condition. If you're considering the use of shilajit, make sure to consult your physician.

To preserve your brain health as you age, it's important to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, stay mentally active, and maintain your social connections.

Some studies suggest that substances such as curcumin and resveratrol show promise for preserving brain health. In addition, remedies like vitamin D and green tea may help strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis.

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