Shilajit is a natural substance found primarily in the rocks of the Himalayas in Nepal. It is a black-brown coloured, sticky resin formed from the gradual decomposition of certain plants for centuries by the action of microorganisms. It contains an important compound known as fulvic acid and is rich in minerals. It is a promising dietary supplement useful for restoring energy and preventing several diseases. Several studies show that Shilajit controls the cognitive disorders associated with ageing and cognitive stimulation.
In fact, Shilajit is one of the most useful herbs and mineral formulations (Rasayana) used in Ayurveda. In this blog, we will learn the benefits of using Shilajit and this supplement can be used for various reasons.
Benefits of using Shilajit:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that gradually destroys the memory power and thinking ability of a person. It eventually leads to the inability to carry out the simplest tasks. Usually, Alzheimer’s is seen in people in their mid-60s and can also occur decades earlier in rare cases. Among older adults, it is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. Proteins are amyloid and tau form twisted clusters of dead and dying nerve cells known as neurofibrillary tangles.
A 2012 report published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that the fulvic acid found in Shilajit may help block the build-up of tau and amyloid. Researchers believe that fulvic acid also reduces inflammation, thus preventing or slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s. However, more research and clinical trials are required to prove the application of Shilajit in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a long-term complication characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts for at least six months. The condition worsens with physical and mental activity but doesn’t improve with rest. Other symptoms may include sleep that isn’t refreshing, difficulties in memory, concentration, and dizziness while moving after sitting down or lying down. Although there is no underlying medical condition to explain CFS, experts believe that immunity problems, viral infections, hormonal imbalances, and even physical and psychological trauma cause chronic fatigue syndrome. They believe that Shilajit prevents mitochondrial dysfunction where our cells cannot produce enough energy to sustain us. Shilajit treatment also appears to reduce anxiety and oxidative stress.
- Low Testosterone Level
Testosterone is a primary male sex hormone. Some men may have low levels of testosterone due to various reasons. Low testosterone is characterized by low sex drive, hair loss, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, etc.
A study in 2015 showed the potency of Shilajit as a supplement to boost testosterone levels. A healthy group of men between the ages of 45 and 55 were divided into two groups; one was given a placebo and the other regular doses of purified Shilajit twice a day. After 90 days, it was found that the volunteers receiving Shilajit doses had significantly higher levels of testosterone than the placebo group.
- Altitude Sickness
High altitude can trigger insomnia, fatigue, dementia, body pain, pulmonary oedema, and a range of various other symptoms. It is caused by low atmospheric pressure, cold temperatures, cold wind, or high wind velocity. Shilajit contains fulvic acid and 84 other minerals offering numerous health benefits. It functions as an antioxidant to improve your body’s immunity and memory, an anti-inflammatory, an energy booster, and a diuretic to remove excess fluid from your body. These health benefits are thought to help counteract many symptoms associated with higher altitudes.
Shilajit contains high concentrations of fulvic acid and other minerals that act as antioxidants and inflammatory compounds, reduce free radicals, and lower cellular damage in the body. As a result, it improves the overall health and functionality of the cells and contributes to their longevity, thus slowing down the ageing process.
- Improves brain function
We now know that fulvic acid is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation, slows down the ageing process, and increases the health and longevity of cells. This also results in healthier brain cells and slows down the progression of brain cell damage.
- High Cholesterol
A study in 2003 divided a group of volunteers ranging from age 16 to 30 years into two. Half were given a placebo and the other half were given 2 grams of shilajit per day for 45 days. Researchers found a significant decrease in cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the shilajit group as compared to the placebo group.
High cholesterol and high triglyceride levels increase your risk of developing heart diseases. Shilajit had also improved its antioxidant status which measures how well our bodies protect cells from damage. Although there were no changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, or the bodyweight of the volunteers, the study concluded the application of shilajit maintains cholesterol and improves heart health.
Shilajit is also a safe supplement for male infertility. A 2010 study studied the effect of this supplement in 35 infertile men. After taking 100 mg of processed shilajit capsule per day for 90 consecutive days, more than 60 per cent of the participants showed an increase in total sperm count. More than 12 per cent had an increase in sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move adequately) which plays a significant role in fertility.
Shilajit is a good source of iron that helps treat anaemia caused by iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anaemia can result from a low iron diet, blood loss, or an inability to absorb iron. The symptoms include fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, headache, irregular heartbeat, etc.
Shilajit boosts the levels of haemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cells. These vital components of blood are responsible for health, immunity, and balanced iron levels.
- Heart Health
Shilajit also has cardioprotective properties. It relieves symptoms of heart palpitations and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). It also reduces the risk of heart diseases due to its antioxidant properties by improving the health of cells, slowing the ageing process, and reducing cholesterol.
- Digestive Disorders
The anti-inflammatory and purifying properties of shilajit suppress the growth of harmful bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori in the intestines. It prevents constipation, helps maintain healthy bowel movements, improves colon health, and relieves any discomfort and pain in the stomach.
- Regulates periods
Shilajit balances female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone thus helping regulate the menstruation cycle. It also reduces period cramps and pain because these hormones relax the muscles.
- Relieves stress and anxiety
Shilajit also possesses antidepressant properties and helps calm the mind, and reduces anxiety symptoms, mental stress, and irritability.
- Improves bone health
Shilajit is also thought to strengthen the bones, increase bone density, and protect against osteoporosis. Women post menopause have estrogen deficiency that reduces bone density. Since shilajit increases estrogen levels, it relieves the symptoms of menopause.
- Maintains healthy blood sugar levels
Shilajit has hypoglycemic (glucose-lowering) properties. It boosts the production of insulin by the pancreas and reduces the breakdown of starch into glucose.
Possible risks of shilajit:
Due to a lack of research and clinical tests, there is little information about the short-term and long-term effects of shilajit. There are certain downsides to consuming shilajit.
- Shilajit may increase the body’s production of uric acid, worsening conditions like gout.
- It may increase iron levels, so people with hemochromatosis, or excess iron levels in the blood, should avoid it.
- Since shilajit is a herbal supplement, it may be contaminated with heavy metals or fungus that can make you sick. It is advised to purchase processed shilajit from trusted sources.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children should avoid shilajit at any cost since there is no information on its side effects.