What Is Shilajit?

A mineral-rich resin used in Ayurveda

Shilajit pills and ground Shilajit

 Verywell

Shilajit is a blackish-brownish resin that comes from layers of rock in several mountain ranges throughout the world, including the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains.

Shilajit is thought to form, in part, when certain plants decompose. It contains an important compound known as fulvic acid and is rich in minerals.

Shilajit is one of many herb and mineral formulations (Rasaoushadhies) used in Ayurveda, a healing system that originated thousands of years ago in India. Shilajit has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions, ranging from bone fractures to impotence.

Shilajit is available as a dietary supplement. Read on to learn about the possible health benefits, side effects, dosage and preparation, and more.

Also Known As

Shilajit is known by other names, including:

  • Mumie
  • Moomiyo
  • Mummiyo
Possible Side Effects of Shilajit
Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz

What Is Shilajit Used For?

Research on the potential health benefits of shilajit is limited. Very few well‐designed, placebo‐controlled, peer-reviewed human or animal studies have been published.

However, several preliminary studies suggest that shilajit may have the potential to offer certain health benefits.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. A rat study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2012 suggests that shilajit may aid in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.

After giving laboratory rats shilajit for 21 days, scientists found that the treatment may influence several processes involved in the body's production of energy. In addition, the treatment appeared to reduce 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 2012 report published in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the fulvic acid found in shilajit may help block the buildup of tau, a type of protein that forms twisted clusters of dead and dying nerve cells known as neurofibrillary tangles. Tau is considered a key marker of Alzheimer's disease and similar diseases.

The study authors note, however, that much more research is needed to determine whether shilajit is effective as an Alzheimer's disease treatment.

Sperm Count

A 2010 study published in the journal Andrologia investigated the effects of this dietary supplement in 35 infertile men. After taking 100 milligrams (mg) of processed shilajit in capsule form each day for 90 days, 28 of the study participants showed significant increases in total sperm count, the amount of healthy sperm, and sperm motility, a measure of how well the sperm move.

High Cholesterol

A small study published in 2003 found improvements in cholesterol levels when 30 individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 30 years, were studied.

Participants were randomly placed in two groups. One group of 20 participants took 2 grams of shilajit per day for 45 days, and another group of 10 participants took sugar pills.

Researchers found significant decreases in cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the shilajit group compared to the placebo group. High cholesterol and high triglycerides increase your risk of developing heart disease.

The shilajit group also had improved antioxidant status, a measure of how well the body protects cells from damage. However, study authors tested for—but did not see—changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, or body weight.

Other Uses

In addition to these limited studies, there are anecdotal reports claiming other health benefits of shilajit. The supplement is touted as a natural remedy for the following conditions:

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

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of shilajit for many of these health purposes.

Possible Side Effects

Due to a lack of 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:

  • Shilajit may increase the body's production of uric acid and, in turn, worsen conditions such as gout.
  • Shilajit may increase iron levels, so people with conditions such as hemochromatosis, or an excess of iron in the blood, should avoid it.
  • Shilajit may alter the body's hormone levels, including a significant increase in levels of total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S).
  • Raw or unprocessed shilajit may be contaminated with heavy metals or fungus that can make you sick.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children shouldn't take shilajit in any form.

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific evidence to determine a standard or appropriate dose of shilajit. Some sellers of the supplement recommend up to 150 mg once or twice per day. Studies investigating shilajit have used varying amounts, although test subjects are generally under medical supervision.

The right dose for you may depend on your age, your current state of health, and the desired benefit.

Talk to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice regarding the use of shilajit or any dietary supplement.

What to Look For

Shilajit is sold in several forms, including capsules, powder, and liquid. There is no scientific evidence to suggest which form is best. Additionally, there are safety concerns when taking this or any supplement.

Dietary supplements are largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and the agency does not require dietary supplements to be tested for safety. Some products may be contaminated with dangerous substances such as heavy metals. Even substances that are labeled "purified" may contain contaminants.

When choosing a supplement, try to find products that have been certified by one of the following organizations:

  • ConsumerLab
  • U.S. Pharmacopeia
  • NSF International

These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do test that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Lastly, remember that it is illegal for any company to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease.

Summary

Shilajit is a mineral-rich resin that has long been used in Ayurveda healing. Today, several preliminary studies claim that it can aid in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, sperm count, and high cholesterol.

Anecdotal reports have also touted shilajit as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions, ranging from anemia to diabetes to osteoarthritis. There is little evidence for these uses, though.

While research is limited, possible side effects include increased iron levels in the blood, altered hormone levels, and increased uric acid production. Like most supplements, shilajit is not regulated by the FDA, so it's important to let your doctor know if you're considering using shilajit for any health purpose.

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