The Health Benefits of Shilajit

Older woman looking at supplement bottle in store

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Shilajit is one of many herbo mineral formulations (Rasaoushadhies) used in Ayurveda—a healing system that originated thousands of years ago in India. Ayurveda focuses on restoring balance in the body through balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

Shilajit comes from layers of rock in several mountain ranges throughout the world, including the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains. It is thought to form, in part, from the decomposition of certain plants. The blackish-brownish resin is rich in minerals and contains an important compound known as fulvic acid.

Shilajit is available in dietary supplement form and has been used in traditional folk medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions ranging from bone fractures to impotence.

Shilajit is known by other names including:

  • Mumie
  • Moomiyo
  • Mummiyo

Health Benefits

Research on the 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 (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, the 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.

Sperm Count and Motility

A study published in 2010 investigated the effects of the dietary supplement on 35 infertile men. After taking 100 milligrams of processed shilajit in capsule form for 90 days, 28 subjects who completed the study showed increases in normal and total sperm count and sperm motility.

Blood Chemistry

A small study published in 2003 found improvements in blood chemistry when test subjects took two grams of shilajit for 45 days. Researchers noted decreases in serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides relative to the placebo group. The shilajit group also demonstrated improved antioxidant status. However, study authors tested for—but did not see—changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, or body weight.

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

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.

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

Possible Side Effects

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. 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 milligrams once or twice per day. Studies investigating shilajit have used varying amounts, although test subjects are generally under medical supervision in research studies.

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 this or any dietary supplement.

What to Look For

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

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

When choosing a supplement, try to find products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do provide a certain level of testing for quality.

Lastly, remember that it is not legal to market any dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease, or to alleviate the symptoms of a disease.

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