Written by Vivian Kanchian- Holistic Nutrition Expert- for 20fourcarrots Nutrition
Special thanks to Dr. Jay Lokhande (MD Botanical Medicine, MBA Biotechnology) for his kind collaboration.
Shilajit (SJ), a Sanskrit word meaning “Conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness” is a mineral-dense substance that has a long history of use (3,000+ years) in Ayurvedic medicine. The ancient Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhitā, refers to an anti aging substance (rasayana) named Çilájatu, that “cures all distempers of the body”. There are 15 versions available in India, each believed to have different healing properties based on where they were harvested, and whether they were collected by sunlight (more suitable to conditions like diabetes) or moonlight (better for conditions like ulcerative colitis).
Other names: Silajit, Silaras, Mineral pitch, Mumiyo, Asphalt(um), Jew’s pitch, Mineral wax, Ozokerite.
SJ is typically found in steep mountainous regions (3000-15000 feet) from Nepal to Kashmir. Generated from fossilized plant materials, authentic SJ is found oozing out from between layers of rock usually during the months of June through September; during which it is painstakingly scraped away and purified in small batches for consumption. The purified version pictured below may look a lot like petroleum, though it has been aged differently by nature to produce a medicinal substance that acts very differently to petroleum. One notable difference is that SJ, unlike petroleum, easily dissolves into water.
Shilajit contains over 84 minerals in highly absorbable ionic form. Its main constituent, fulvic acid, helps to carry and deliver these and other nutrients directly into the cells. Per Dr. Lokhande, SJ possesses the unique ability to selectively enhance the bioavailability of only life-giving substances. In other words, SJ will not increase your absorption of toxins. In fact, it is an excellent detoxifier.
Always take away from food (a minimum of 1 hour before a meal, 2 hours after), except for a teaspoonful of the ‘carrier vehicle’ recommended for your dosha/constitution below:
- Maintenance (general): 110mg
- Condition-specific (systemic): Begin with rice sized amount, then increase to individual needs
- For adrenal fatigue, take it at bedtime to help body achieve peak levels of corticosteroids by morning. In a healthy person, these levels naturally peak at 4am, which in Ayurveda is considered the ideal time to wake up/ start the day.
- 3 dominant constitutions/ doshas- vata: black sesame, pitta: ghee, kapha/ water+earth=mud elements: honey). On empty stomach.
Safety: Because authentic, high grade SJ is so labor intensive to harvest, there is a lot of counterfeit and diluted product on the market. For this reason, it is important to seek out reputable sources. Authentic, properly purified SJ is extremely safe. To my knowledge, Lotus Blooming Herbs (LBH)* is the only purveyor of its kind that follows strict quality assurance guidelines to ensure a pure product. For LBH owner Johann Helf, this has been a true labor of love—taking him nearly seven years (and lots of blood, sweat and altitude sickness) to locate what is considered by the locals this “blessing from the deities”. LBH work closely with a single family that have been hand collecting and purifying premium SJ for nearly 5 centuries. Rigorous laboratory reports are available at http://www.authenticshilajit.com/pure-shilajit-resources.html to indicate that the product is free from any harmful contaminants.
* I am not a paid sponsor for this company.
Note: SJ is contraindicated in those with a high uric acid count, and anyone with phenylketonuria (PKU).
|Traditional Uses||Scientific Evidence in Support of|
|Aphrodisiac Tonic||An animal study showed a marked increase in the amount of sperm in the epididymides of male rats, and ovulation induction in female rats treated with SJ .-A 2012 study showed that the fulvic acid component of SJ inhibits PDE5A, an enzyme linked to erectile dysfunction [14,15].|
|Geriatric Tonic||-Multiple studies show that SJ is a potent antioxidant, free radical scavenger, with anti-HIV, anti-tumour, and broad-reaching anti-inflammatory activities [2, 16].-One study compared SJ’s antioxidant potential to that of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). Shilajit also possesses the unique ability to recycle Vitamin C after it has neutralized harmful free radicals . Moreover, it provides complete protection from MMA (Methyl Methacrylate used in plastics, molding, flooring, etc.), and limits lipid peroxidation, which has been linked to diffuse tissue inflammation and damage.
-In a 1989 animal study, Shilajit exhibited immune-modulating activity,
with the ability to ameliorate allergies and destroy tumor cells .
-Andean Shilajit, with an ORAC index of 50-500 units/g, compared to just 15 units/g in blueberries is being studied for its cognitive benefits [3, 4, 5, 8]. It has shown great potential as a safe dietary supplement for Alzheimer’s prevention.
-A 2012 review article cites SJ’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimutagenic, antitoxic, antiviral, heavy metal chelating, antitumor, apoptotic and photo-protective (UV/radiation) properties [11}.
-I found one 2013 study specifically focused on the anti arthritic activity of SJ, which significantly reduced overall pain in moderately arthritic dogs without any side effects . However, SJ’s anti-inflammatory activities are well documented in many more studies, including the ones cited here.
-SJ restores a youthful insulin response by boosting insulin-regulating pancreatic beta cells. Long term treatment with SJ (at just 100mg/ kg versus 500mg/ kg for Metformin) selectively normalizes high blood glucose, while having no effect on those with normal blood sugar levels [12,17].
-Anti-ulcerogenic activities via two mechanisms of action:
A- maintaining membrane integrity
B- anti-inflammatory activity
|Athletic Enhancement (#6)|
|A 2012 study showed SJ has the ability to decrease brain edema, resulting in better neurological outcomes after traumatic brain injury .|
|-SJ’s immune modulating properties are thought to be responsible for its ability to inhibit the central nervous system’s (CNS) development of tolerance to pain killers like morphine [18,19].|
|Altitude Sickness||A 2010 study shows that SJ helps the body adapt to the undesirable effects associated with high altitudes .|
All written contents are copyright 2015 by Vivian Kanchian], Holistic Nutrition Expert.
No reuse or re-publication without permission. Please note that the information provided on this site is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein is intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure any illness or medical condition. Consult a doctor before beginning any diet or exercise regimen or before taking vitamins or supplements. Statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.