Shilajit is a dark tar that oozes from the Himalayan mountains. For thousands of years, humans have used shilajit as a supplement due to its high concentration of trace vitamins and minerals. Shilajit is also a potent source of the antioxidant fulvic acid, which can help to enhance the absorption of the many nutrients in shilajit. Although humans have collected and used shilajit for thousands of years — it’s popular in Ayurvedic medicine — scientists aren’t certain whether its origin is geological or biological. As a result, you can sometimes find shilajit sold under mysterious names such as “mountain tears.”
In its standard form, shilajit resin is a dark, sticky substance that becomes thinner and easier to pour at warmer temperatures. At cooler temperatures, shilajit is thick enough to roll between your fingers. Workers collect shilajit in mountain ranges — most commonly in the Himalayan mountains — and purify it for use as a supplement. Shilajit dissolves easily in water. Some supplement makers sell shilajit in powdered form. Others sell it in capsules.
There are four forms of shilajit found in the wild. Of those, the purest form — the gold grade — is the only one with any claimed benefits in Ayurvedic medicine. Workers find the purest shilajit at the highest altitudes, so there is some challenge and danger involved in gathering it. Since shilajit isn’t easy to obtain — and there is no way to produce it artificially — there have been some complaints from consumers who believe that they have purchased fake shilajit. Make certain that you buy shilajit only from a trusted source.
Shilajit Benefits and Effects
Studies suggest that shilajit may:
- Increase testosterone levels 
- Prevent Alzheimer’s disease and delay cognitive aging 
- Alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome 
- Alleviate symptoms of altitude-related sickness 
- Alleviate anemia due to iron deficiency 
- Increase sperm count 
- Protect the heart from damage following an adverse cardiac event 
How Shilajit Works
Shilajit’s primary component is fulvic acid, a substance produced naturally during plant decomposition. Experts believe that fulvic acid may:
- Improve your digestive health
- Strengthen your immune system
- Speed the removal of toxins from the body
- Reduce inflammation and destroy free radicals
Shilajit is also a potent nutritional supplement that contains vitamins such as A, B and C along with trace minerals including nickel, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese. Considering the nutritional components of shilajit, it’s easy to see why many people report improved energy and vitality after taking it. Shilajit can augment or replace a vitamin or mineral supplement.
If you are taking pure shilajit resin, it’s wise to start with a small amount and scale up your dosage until you achieve the desired result. Start with a single daily dose roughly equal in size to a grain of rice. After several days of taking shilajit, you can scale up your dosage if you like. Begin by taking two or three rice-sized doses per day. If you notice no negative side effects, you can increase the dosage to the size of a pea.
If you’d prefer to take shilajit in pre-measured doses, a capsule-based shilajit supplement might be preferable for you over the plain resin. Some Ayurvedic practitioners recommend taking shilajit with warm milk.
A capsule-based shilajit supplement may include additional Ayurvedic ingredients that work synergistically with the shilajit. Some common ingredients include:
- Swarna Bhasma (therapeutic gold): Used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat impotency, premature ejaculation, infertility, anemia, muscle wasting and overall weakness.
- Kewanch (Mucuna Pruriens): Ayurvedic practitioners use kewanch to treat lack of sexual desire in men and women. Some athletes also take kewanch to support the growth of new muscle mass during periods of intense training.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is among the most famous and well-studied of all Ayurvedic herbs. Ayurvedic practitioners use ashwagandha to treat malaise, stress, fatigue, inability to concentrate, blood sugar issues and lack of libido in men and women.
Shilajit Side Effects
One of the reasons why Ayurvedic practitioners use shilajit to treat anemia is because it contains a high concentration of iron. Shilajit overdose is therefore theoretically possible as it is possible to overdose on any supplement containing iron. If you experience abdominal pain, dark or bloody stools or vomiting after taking shilajit, discontinue use and call your doctor.
As with any concentrated source of geological and botanical materials, there is a possibility that shilajit may contain undesirable substances including lead, arsenic and mercury. It is therefore important to buy shilajit only from a source that takes the purity of its products very seriously. Shilajit isn’t a mass-produced product; it is gathered in the wild. It therefore requires purification before it’s ready to use as a nutritional supplement.
You should not take shilajit with chlorinated water because the chlorine may react with the fulvic acid in the shilajit. If you have chronic low blood pressure, low blood sugar or gout, ask your doctor before taking shilajit.
Shilajit may enhance the bioavailability of other supplements taken at the same time. You may therefore consider stacking shilajit with other herbs and supplements depending on the results you’re trying to achieve. Some of the supplements that may enhance the benefits you receive from shilajit include:
- Low libido: Taking shilajit and ashwagandha together forms a perfect supplement stack if you want to combat low libido, impotency, infertility or another other form of sexual dysfunction. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that shilajit benefits female sexual dysfunction as much as it enhances the male libido.
- Low energy: Some of the supplements that may enhance shilajit’s ability to combat low energy levels include guarana, vitamin B12, coenzyme Q10, ginseng and gotu kola.
- Low mental alertness: Are you considering taking shilajit to improve your mental acuity? Some of the supplements that you might consider stacking with shilajit include fish oil, ginkgo biloba, choline, bacopa and vinpocetine.
- Overall well-being: Since shilajit contains so many nutrients and trace minerals, you may take it as a general supplement for overall well-being. Some of the supplements that may enhance shilajit’s ability to promote overall health include omega-3 supplements such as fish oil, vitamin B supplements, vitamin C, fiber, ginseng and milk thistle.
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