Shilajit might sound like the newest wellness and fitness fad. It clearly is the up-and-coming superstar in nutrition. Given the bad rep nutraceuticals have earned in recent years, it’s also perfectly fine for you to be skeptical about what shilajit is for. You might even expect the buzz to die down eventually — except it won’t.
Fact is, unlike your multivitamins or whey powder, pure shilajit resin is as natural as can be. While the western world may be hearing it on mainstream channels for the first time, shilajit has been used in Ayurveda, Chinese, Arab, Greek, and other traditional medicine practice since ancient times.
What is shilajit resin?
Also known by many traditional names such as mumie, mumio, or moomiyo, shilajit is best known in the west as mineral pitch. It is a natural substance that forms between rock crevices.
Shilajit: The Resin of Life in Ayurveda
Tradition has it, it was the food gatherers and hunters who first discovered shilajit and what shilajit can do. The story goes, they observed how wounded and ill animals healed faster after licking a black substance between the rocks.
Then, they also started using it to help relieve sickness associated with cold and high altitude environments where shilajit is mostly found. Once they’ve proven its medicinal value, they stored it in jars and took it back to their villages. Soon enough, shilajit earned a reputation as a panacea and rejuvenator.
Shilajit Composition & Benefits
Shilajit is formed from the organic matter of plants undergoing various stages of decay and decomposition. Most of which are used for their medicinal value. This Phyto complex is exposed to unique environmental conditions for many, many years to form shilajit.
As such, shilajit is difficult to find and challenging to obtain. It is available in many parts of the world but only in specific locations where the conditions are ideal for its formation. That makes it packed with nutrients, but also expensive and susceptible to adulteration.
What is shilajit resin made up of?
Shilajit resin is a waxy, dark substance that solidifies in cold temperature and softens in more humid environments. Organic plant materials mix with minerals in the soil. It takes at least 40 years for high-quality shilajit to be formed through a process known as humification.
What makes up shilajit? Here’s a quick rundown:
- Fulvic Acid and Humic Acid Complex. These are the major components of soil and fertilizers are infused with it in rich amounts. Unfortunately, most brands of shilajit list fulvic acid as their active ingredient. While it may help plants speed up growth and flowering, it does not necessarily support the human body if taken on its own.
- Bioactive dibenzo-alpha-pyrones. Researchers have argued that dibenzo-alpha-pyrones are responsible for the energy-boosting property of shilajit. The body operates using an energy currency known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones in shilajit work by converting more of the energy we get from food into ATP. Thus, more energy can be used to fuel various body processes. In effect, your body also recovers faster from stress and fatigue.
- Amino acids. These are protein-precursors that are extremely important for tissue growth, repair, and regeneration. Amino acids in shilajit can support the production of hormones and other enzymes that help regulate various body processes.
- Glycine. This is a special amino acid present throughout the body. It serves as a prerequisite for the production of antioxidants and collagen. Glycine may be the reason why shilajit reduces pain from inflammation.
- Essential minerals. Minerals in shilajit will vary depending on where it was extracted. It will generally incorporate the minerals present in its natural surroundings. While humans generally require small amounts of these nutrients, lack or deficiency in any essential mineral can have dramatic, adverse impacts on the body.
Shilajit benefits and evidence
Much of what traditional cultures have known about shilajit for many generations is only starting to be validated by science. Researchers have observed and documented the following benefits of shilajit:
- Boosts energy levels. Regular intake of shilajit helps relieve stress and fatigue. Enhanced relaxation and calmness promote better mental and physical performance. It may also help improve feelings of sadness and worry.
- Speeds up wound healing. Shilajit may enhance the production of tissue precursors such as collagen and other fibrous materials required for repair. This may be through the presence of components such as humic acid, glycine, amino acids, and minerals. As such, shilajit boosts wound healing and tissue repair.
- Relieves pain and inflammation. Researchers conclude that shilajit and its two primary components, humic and fulvic acids, may help improve signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers are investigating the potential of shilajit use for pain and the effectiveness of shilajit as an anti-inflammatory.
- Antioxidants in shilajit help protect cells and nerves . Powerful antioxidants like DBPs are present in shilajit. Shilajit antioxidants can help defend the body against permanent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Some of its components like glycine serve as ingredients in the production of other powerful natural antioxidants such as glutathione.
Antioxidants also help delay ageing. Consistently high levels can help premature wrinkles, keep vital organs viable, and prevent nerve damage.
- Regulates weight and body fat content . Researchers showed how shilajit may be able to eliminate most fats from the diet and prevent obesity. Researchers suggest that the energy pathway promoted by shilajit may prevent fat deposits by inhibiting the transformation of excess calories into fats.
- Supports enhanced mental performance and delays brain ageing. Researchers suggest that shilajit may enhance processes in the central nervous system and in brain receptors as well. Findings show that shilajit improves memory and other cognitive functions. Further studies have been suggested to see how it may affect individuals suffering from memory problems.
Safety & Side Effects of Shilajit
Purified original shilajit in resin form offers the safest and most potent form of shilajit for supplementation. Natural, wildcrafted shilajit resin is generally safe for ingestion even in high amounts. Preliminary evidence further suggests that shilajit is safe for pregnant women. Although this requires further investigation. In any case, raw shilajit should never be taken in its unpurified state.
Proper processing to purify raw shilajit should be in place to protect against disease-causing microorganisms and toxic heavy metals. Most purification strategies, however, involve heating shilajit at extremely high temperatures which hardly keep its beneficial components intact.
Other than side effects associated with unpurified shilajit, improper dosing and reaction with other substances are the two other possible causes of potential shilajit side effects.
Also, take note that when shilajit is presented in forms other than resin, these are likely adulterated and less potent. Powders, tinctures, liquid, pill, and tablet forms of shilajit are over-processed. As such, these are unlikely to produce the same beneficial effects as shilajit resin.
Many shilajit brands in the market may not even contain shilajit at all so be very weary. Always ask for a Certificate of Analysis to verify that you’re buying authentic shilajit and that is safe for human consumption.
Strictly adhere to dosage guidelines provided by its makers. Shilajit is generally safe to take. In the case of shilajit resin, it is best to take 250mg up to 500mg daily.
However, keep in mind that taking more than the recommended dose will not speed up positive effects. It is also best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking shilajit as a supplement, most especially if you are taking other medications.