Nutritional Analysis: Health Benefits of Shilajit

June 20, 2023 8 mins to read
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Here I do a comprehensive nutritional analysis of Shilajit, including: it’s nutrient content (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients), use in ayurvedic medicine and purported health benefits and which of those health benefits are backed by studies; cited (referenced) at the bottom of this article. Due to the nutrient profile dependence on source and harvesting conditions as well as possible contamination, I am picky about what companies I get Shilajit from, and so I’ll link my recommended Shilajit products at the bottom of the article.

Source & History

Shilajit is a tar-like substance that originates from the Himalayas and it’s been used in ayurvedic and alternative medicine for over 3000 years. In Ayurvedic medicine it’s known as the “conqueror of mountain and destroyer of weakness,”, which says allot about it’s potential nutrient quality. Its first documented use can be traced back to the ancient Indian text “Charaka Samhita”, which is believed to have been written in the 1st millennium BCE.

Shilajit is derived from decomposed plant matter that has been subjected to immense pressure over centuries, forming it’s rich nutrient profile.

Nutrient Content

Shilajit contains over 80 minerals, as well as it’s two main bioactive compounds, fulvic and humic acid. It also contains negligible amounts of some vitamins. It’s nutrient profile varies widely depending on where it’s sourced from and under what conditions it’s harvested, making selection of a quality brand paramount. However here is a general breakdown of Shilajit’s nutritional content, keeping in mind some of these may not be present.

Minerals

  1. Aluminium
  2. Antimony
  3. Argon
  4. Arsenic
  5. Barium
  6. Beryllium
  7. Bismuth
  8. Boron
  9. Bromine
  10. Cadmium
  11. Calcium
  12. Carbon
  13. Cerium
  14. Cesium
  15. Chlorine
  16. Chromium
  17. Cobalt
  18. Copper
  19. Dysprosium
  20. Erbium
  21. Europium
  22. Fluorine
  23. Gadolinium
  24. Gallium
  25. Germanium
  26. Gold
  27. Hafnium
  28. Holmium
  29. Hydrogen
  30. Indium
  31. Iodine
  32. Iridium
  33. Iron
  34. Lanthanum
  35. Lead
  36. Lithium
  37. Lutetium
  38. Magnesium
  39. Manganese
  40. Mercury
  41. Molybdenum
  42. Neodymium
  43. Nickel
  44. Niobium
  45. Nitrogen
  46. Osmium
  47. Oxygen
  48. Palladium
  49. Phosphorus
  50. Platinum
  51. Plutonium
  52. Polonium
  53. Potassium
  54. Praseodymium
  55. Radium
  56. Rhenium
  57. Rhodium
  58. Rubidium
  59. Ruthenium
  60. Samarium
  61. Scandium
  62. Selenium
  63. Silicon
  64. Silver
  65. Sodium
  66. Strontium
  67. Sulfur
  68. Tantalum
  69. Tellurium
  70. Terbium
  71. Thallium
  72. Thorium
  73. Thulium
  74. Tin
  75. Titanium
  76. Tungsten
  77. Uranium
  78. Vanadium
  79. Ytterbium
  80. Zinc

Fulvic & Humic Acid

The phytonutrients present in Shilajit are mainly tied to the fulvic and humic acid content. Some of these compounds includes, but is not limited to:

  • Polyphenols – contains flavonoids and phenolic acids with antioxidant properties
  • Triterpenes – compounds with anti-inflammatory and liver-protective effects in some studies
  • Sterols – compounds like beta-sitosterol that can help lower cholesterol

But let’s break down fulvic and humic acid, and the compounds each contains.

Fulvic Acid

Fulvic Acid is yellowish in color and due to it’s small size can easily penetrate cell walls, which is believed to enhance the absorption of other nutrients. Some of the compounds it contains includes but is not limited to:

  • Phenolic acids: Hydroxybenzoic acid, Vanillic acid, Syringic acid, Protocatechuic acid, Gallic acid, etc.
  • Triterpenes and sterols: ß-Sitosterol, Ursolic acid, etc.
  • Amino acids: Methionine, Leucine, Lysine, etc.
  • Other organic acids: Fumaric acid, Citric acid, Succinic acid, etc.

Humic Acid

Humic acid is brown in color and is a larger molecule with a range of nutrients and substances which includes, but is not limited to:

  • Quinones
  • Lignins
  • Peptides
  • Sugars
  • Sterols
  • Hormones
  • Fatty acids
  • Polyphenols

Shilajit in Ayurvedic Medicine

Shilajit is highly valued in Ayurvedic or alternative medicine. It provides a laundry list of purported health benefits and is used by Ayurvedic practitioners to address a wide range of ailments:

  1. Rejuvenator: Known as a Rasayana in Ayurveda, Shilajit is believed to slow the aging process and rejuvenate the body.
  2. Energy Booster: Shilajit is said to enhance the body’s natural energy reserves by aiding mitochondrial function; being the powerhouse of the cells wherein energy is produced for cellular processes.
  3. Cognitive Enhancer: It’s believed to improve brain function and memory.
  4. Immunity Booster: Shilajit is used to bolster the body’s immune function.
  5. Male Reproductive Health: It’s traditionally used to boost male fertility and improve sexual performance.
  6. Bone and Joint Health: Shilajit may promote bone and joint health and to aid in conditions like arthritis.
  7. Diabetes Management: Some Ayurvedic practitioners use Shilajit to help control blood glucose levels in diabetic patients.
  8. Respiratory (lung) Health: It’s used for better respiratory health and to treat conditions like asthma.
  9. Anti-Ulcer Agent: Shilajit is used to by Ayurvedic practitioners to prevent and heal gastric ulcers.
  10. Detoxifier: It’s believed to aid in the detoxification process of the human body.
  11. Heart Health: Some use Shilajit to maintain cardiovascular (heart) health and improve overall cardiac performance.
  12. Anemia: Due to its iron content, it’s often used to treat iron-deficiency anemia.

Shilajit in Traditional Medicine

Modern medicine has begun to study shilajit and it’s various compounds. Here are several studies verifying some of the health benefits of Shilajit:

  • Boosts Testosterone – A study found that Shilajit showed a significant improvement in serum testosterone levels [1].
  • Cognitive Enhancer – The Fulvic acid and other organic compounds in Shilajit were attributed to it’s ability to potentially help manage Alzheimer’s disease. [2]
  • Energy Boost – Shilajit was shown to support Mitochondrial function – the powerhouse of the cells where energy is created which is transported throughout the body and used for a wide range of cellular processes. [3]
  • Protects Heart – A study on rats showed Shilajit supported cardiovascular (heart) health. [5]
  • Improves Gut Health – One study showed Shilajit’s antioxidant properties support gut and digestive tract health. [7]
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Some evidence shows Shilajit may help improve chronic fatigue syndrome by improving energy levels [6]
  • High Altitude Sickness – One study showed Shilajit helps mitigate the effects of high altitude conditions and some of their affects on the heart, lungs and brain [4]

Conclusion

As an integrative nutrition specialist, there is no doubt in my mind that Shilajit is a powerful natural complex of compounds with a range of potential health benefits. It seems modern medicine is just beginning to catch up to what ayurvedic practitioners have known for generations – that Shilajit can aid in a range of illnesses from boosting energy and cognition to supporting testosterone and a healthy heart…We all know how corrupt the traditional medical system is, but I am certain with time, more of the health benefits of Shilajit alleged by Ayurvedic practitioners, will be verified by the studies whom so many practitioners rely on, as their sole source of medical knowledge.

Warning

Shilajit can potentially be heavily contaminated with heavy metals and toxins. If you do not buy a brand that is properly filtered, you are likely doing more damage than good. I highly recommend you vet any Shilajit supplement and make sure they state it is purified and tested for heavy metals/contaminates (by a 3rd party lab), and that they disclose documents to prove that.

I list most of my recommended brands and supplements on my Amazon Affiliate Store and Pinterest.

Shilajit Alternative

Dr. Wallach pioneered research on nutritional deficiencies and their relation to diseases. Over decades he refined a list of the 91 Essential nutrients to prevent illness and stay healthy into a Formula he refers to as the “Mighty 90” aka “The 91 Nutrients for Life”. If you want something that is even more nutrient dense than shilajit, properly tested, and that is designed by one of the smartest doctors in nutritional deficiencies and disease, then I suggest you check out The Mighty 90 by Youngevity (I am an Authorized Brand Distributor for Dr. Wallachs Youngevity Formulas)

References

  1. Biswas, T. K., Pandit, S., Mondal, S., Biswas, S. K., Jana, U., Ghosh, T., … & Auddy, B. (2010). Clinical evaluation of spermatogenic activity of processed Shilajit in oligospermia. Andrologia, 42(1), 48-56.
  2. Carrasco-Gallardo, C., Guzmán, L., & Maccioni, R. B. (2012). Shilajit: a natural phytocomplex with potential procognitive activity. International journal of Alzheimer’s disease, 2012.
  3. Bhattacharyya, S., Pal, D., Banerjee, D., Majumder, U. K., Ghosh, A. K., Sen, A., & Pal, B. B. (2009). Shilajit dibenzo—pyrones: Mitochondria targeted antioxidants. Pharmacologyonline, 2, 690-698.
  4. Meena, H., Pandey, H. K., Arya, M. C., & Ahmed, Z. (2010). Shilajit: A panacea for high-altitude problems. International Journal of Ayurveda Research, 1(1), 37.
  5. Al-Said, M. S., Ageel, A. M., Parmar, N. S., & Tariq, M. (1989). Evaluation of moomiyo as an anti-ulcerogenic agent. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 26(2), 179-184.
  6. Surapaneni, D. K., Adapa, S. R., Preeti, K., Teja, G. R., Veeraragavan, M., & Krishnamurthy, S. (2012). Shilajit attenuates behavioral symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome by modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and mitochondrial bioenergetics in rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 143(1), 91-99.
  7. Gaikwad, N. S., Panat, A. V., Deshpande, M. S., Ramya, K., Khalid, P. U., & Augustine, P. (2020). Shilajit: A Humic Matter Panacea for Cancer. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, 12(1), 23-30.

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