Shaun Ward MSc ANutr
Shilajit is a substance that naturally occurs from the decomposition of plants and is mainly found in the heights of the Himalayan mountains.
It has been historically said to have “miraculous” effects, with shilajit translating from Sanskrit into “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness”.
Shilajit has been known and used for centuries within Ayurvedic medicine mainly as an anti-aging compound.
It is comprised of a mixture of humic acids (~85% of total weight) with non-humic compounds. There may also be small amounts of plant microbial metabolites.
Preclinical investigations state that most of the potential benefits come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties , however there are currently a lack of clinical trials to identify its true metabolic effects.
Shilajit Extract Health Benefits
Below is a list of every potential benefit that's backed by credible scientific research:
It May Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases
Shilajit has been traditionally used to treat Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Animal studies using a formulation that includes shilajit have seen improvements in learning ability and memory, but as it was part of a mixture of ingredients it cannot be isolated as the cause of effect .
Data from laboratory research also indicates possible mechanisms in which shilajit may improve cognitive disorders and as a stimulant of cognitive activity in humans .
The primary component of shilajit is an antioxidant known as fulvic acid, thought to improve cognitive health by preventing the accumulation of tau protein – types of protein able to trigger damage to brain cells.
Interestingly, shilajit may also be able to reduce the perception of pain in the brain, based on animal studies where they drop mice into hot water (ouch!) .
Future research is required before making conclusions about shilajits effect on brain function.
It May Increase Testosterone Levels
500mg of shilajit extract for 90 days has shown to significantly increase testosterone levels by ~25% in middle-aged men compared to a placebo. This increase was matched by a ~10% increase in the activity of follicle-stimulating hormone, now thought to be the mechanism by which shilajit acts .
Animal studies also report dose-dependent increases in sperm count in the testes by 100-300%, hypothesized to be an indirect result of increased testosterone production .
More human trials are needed to confirm this relationship.
It May Help With Fatigue
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term condition that causes extreme tiredness or fatigue.
At least in part, experts in the field believe that the cause of chronic fatigue is due to an impairment or irregularity in mitochondrial function, which makes the energy production process in cells more inefficient.
In animal studies, shilajit has been found to reduce the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome by preventing mitochondrial dysfunction and improving energy metabolism .
Whether this translates over to human research is unknown, and clinical studies are necessary for further analysis.
How To Take Shilajit Extract?
The best dose of shilajit is not well researched. Based on the limited studies available, a sensible dose is 300-500 mg per day, however we recommend speaking to your doctor before shilajit supplementation.
For safety purposes, a purified form of shilajit is recommended. It is also advised to stick to supplement instructions on the dietary label.
Shilajit Extract Safety And Side Effects
Shilajit is a safe supplement to consume in a purified form (processed to remove contaminants) but should never be consumed raw due to its natural content of heavy metal ions, free radicals, fungus, and other contaminations.
Low (200mg) and high doses of Shilajit (2 grams) do not appear to cause toxicological issues in humans or lead to other health issues  . Extremely high doses in animals (100mg per kg bodyweight) are also not associated with any health problems .
However, as mentioned, studies indicate that shilajit without preliminary purification may lead to risks of intoxication .
People should also be aware that shilajit isn’t monitored for quality, purity, or strength by most food and drug administrations. Some recent findings suggest that many shilajit-containing products available online contain detectable amounts of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic .
Some individuals are also susceptible to allergies from this supplement, so stop supplementing with shilajit if you notice rashes, increased heart rate, or dizziness.
Shilajit is a substance that naturally occurs from the decomposition of plants and is linked to having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Far more human research on shilajit is needed, but preliminary studies have associated shilajit consumption with increased testosterone levels, and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and chronic fatigue.
People should ensure they do no consume raw shilajit as this poses a great safety concern. Instead, 300-500mg of purified shilajit extract from a reputable supplement company is recommended.