Shilajit supplement health benefit and side effects, latest studies and new information by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 20 2014

Shilajit, also spelled Shilajeet, is a pale-brown to blackish gummy brown substance on rocks. Shilajit is found on steep rocks in the mountains of India, Himalayas, and Afghanistan. 
It has been thought to be an exudate of the plant Styrax officinalis and other plant and microbial substances. This substance is thought to be a complex mixture of organic humic substances and plant and microbial metabolites occurring in the rock rhizospheres of its natural habitat. However, I received an email in 2009 for an investigator who has a different opinion that I mention below.
    In folk medicine, shilajit powder has been used to treat diverse clinical conditions ranging from peptic ulcer to bone healing, along with potentially having aphrodisiac properties. No significant adverse effects have yet been mentioned.

Research and how it works
Shilajit powder may be effective in peptic ulcer and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may also enhance memory.
There's been very little formal human research with shilajit or its extract, however one study says it may effect the cholinergic system. In India, this product is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac and the benefits take a few days to notice.

Am J Mens Health. 2013. Parasympathomimetic effect of shilajit accounts for relaxation of rat corpus cavernosum. The peripheral parasympathomimetic effects of shilajit were confirmed by blockade of shilajit-induced relaxations (in vitro) and shilajit-induced lowering of mean arterial blood pressure and heart rate (in vivo) by atropine.

What's in Shilajit?
A number of chemicals are found including minerals, benzopyrones, and fulvic acids. Its
composition is influenced by a number of factors, the plant species involved, the geological nature of the rock, local temperature profiles, humidity and altitude. Please read another opinion by Dr George Carman.

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Alzheimer's
Arch Med Res. 2012 Nov. Can nutraceuticals prevent Alzheimer's disease? Potential therapeutic role of a formulation containing shilajit and complex B vitamins. Studies suggest that shilajit and its active principle fulvic acid, as well as a formula of shilajit with B complex vitamins, emerge as novel nutraceutical with potential uses against this brain disorder.

A novel idea of the composition and source of Shilajit
April 2009, Dear Dr Ray and colleagues,
Further to my earlier correspondence regarding Salajit / Shilajit a few years back, I have now located and visited some 20 salajit sites in Pakistan (both Himalaya and Hindu Khush as well as ranges in the Afghan borderlands north of Quetta). I can provide GPS coordinates for 12 and in particular a very accessible and productive site at Fairy Meadows on the flank of Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. I have interviewed salajit hunters / gatherers and processors, researched the subject quite extensively and now can report: Salajit is mammal excreta. Mostly from the Giant Woolly Flying Squirrel but also the Afghan Pika and other small rodents. The
Giant Woolly Flying Squirrel in particular has a very waxy-leaf diet (my observations and supported by Zahler, 1998, 2002). Itís only relation to rocks is that it is collected from rocky sites where it was excreted. It may be corrected to call it humus but excreta is far more descriptive. Professor Ghosalís claim that it is organic matter from sedimentary rocks is unfounded. As a petroleum geologist I understand the thermal maturation of organic matter in sedimentary rocks (under mountain building temperatures and pressures) and the end products (oil and gas , are well known. The Giant Woolly Flying Squirrel profiles proposed by Ghosal could not survive the thermogenic history of the rocks to which he associates the shilajit, eg Ammonite bearing formations (Ghosal, Shilajit in Perspective, 2006). Most salajit sites visited by me are NOT on sedimentary rocks. I could not find any plants like Styrax officinalis near these sites. Hunters / mountain vendors add rock dust to supplement the weight (it is sold by the kilogram after all) and honey or apricot extracts to sweeten it and cardamom (not sure what this adds). No wonder laboratory analysis come up with a range of mineral compositions!! Early British Himalayan explorers reported on Shilajit and concluded in some localities it is mostly rat urine (Hooper 1903. The distinctive smell / odour often quoted bears a very strong similarity to the poo of the Australian Possum. Peerzada et al claim to have analysed salajit from the Pollock Range in Australia. I have talked with Peerzada at Charles Darwin University and he is very evasive about the origin of his research material. Shilajit is usually described as being sourced from locations at high altitude (4000-6000 metres). The highest point in Australia is Mt. Mt Kosciusko in New South Wales at 2230 metres. I cannot locate the Pollock Ranges anywhere in Australia. (Peerzada, N., Nojek, M., Bhatti, M., 1992. Bioavailability of nutrient metals, biological thermal and spectroscopic properties of Silajit from Pakistan and Australia. Science International 4, 39-44). Please visit my blogsite for some more details salajitstudies.blogspot dot com. I am not qualified to comment about the medicinal benefits. Would you consider co-authoring a paper to describe the habitat and medicinal claims surrounding Salajit? I believe we could discredit many published statements about salajit and shilajit and shed important light on its origin.
Kind Regards, Dr George Carman, Geodirect Resources Pty Ltd ABN65 118 288 029, Director.

2007
Q. Dear Dr. Sahelian, Since writing to you from Islamabad (consulting geologist in Pakistan) a couple of years ago I have continued to explore Salajit origins and have collected some 20 kgs of raw material from several sites in the NWFP of Pakistan. I am now semi-retired and will dedicate more time to writing up an article perhaps for Nature or some similar magazine or journal. Without exception all published material I have collected was based on samples bought on the street / market and not collected from source. My studies of the process chain shows laboratory samples are likely to be contaminated since the raw material is mixed with rock dust (to increase sales weight) and additives such as honey and apricot juice to sweeten the taste. My raw material was collected from the rock outcrops and thin section petrology shows it it is not an exudate but merely a surface deposit. Chromatography shows it to be of waxy organic origin. I have observed and recorded the surrounding flora and fauna and have concluded the deposit is excreta mixed with urine from mammals including the Afghanistan Pika and the Giant Wooly Flying Squirrel. Since the habitat of these creatures is limited, and the distribution of various forms of salajit more widespread, I can only conclude that other mammals also contribute to the source. The sites are needless to say spectacular... being rocky ledges on cliffs and steep hill slopes at high altitude. On average it took me 2-3 days to get in and out from each site guided by local hunters. I have developed a 90 minute lecture which I have presented to scientific gatherings in Islamabad and my home town Melbourne and everyone agrees the story should make a fine National Geographic type documentary. Accordingly I am seeking organisations that may jointly sponsor such an expedition / project. The topic covers geology (my specialty of course) medicine, biology, botany, human sociology and conservation as these mammals are an endangered species being adversely affected by both Salajit hunters and deforestation. Would you please give your consideration to the potential role you could provide in such a project and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Yours Sincerely, Dr George Carman.
   A. This is very interesting. However, I am not closely enough involved in this area to find the time for it but I will post your email on my shilajit web page in case others come across my website and wish to contact you.

2005
Q. I am a consultant geologist in the oil and gas industry and whilst working in Pakistan, came to hear of Salajit (as it is spelt in Urdu) . Also known as Shilajit and Shilajeet. Your webpage suggests shilajit is an exudate of the plant Styrax officinalis Linn with important mineral constituents related to the bedrock. In contrast some vendor websites (particularly Indian ones) state it is a juice of the rocks, an exudates form the rock itself. Would you be please be so kind and to point me to some research on the origins of shilajit particularly any that clearly confirms that is formed by the plant Styrax officinalis lin.
     A. I, too, have had difficulty finding out exactly where shilajit comes from, and I can't seem to find a definitive answer, I get different responses from different raw material suppliers when I ask them about the source of the shilajit. So, I am still searching ourselves for the right answer.

Heart health
Cardiovasc Toxicol. Jan 22 2014. Cardioprotective Effect of Mumie (Shilajit) on Experimentally Induced Myocardial Injury. This study assessed the effects of mumie (shilajit) pre-treatment, a traditional drug which is well known in the ancient medicine of both east and west, on cardiac performance of rats subjected to myocardial injury. Animals were divided into control, M250, and M500 (received mumie at dosages of 250 and 500 mg/kg/day, orally for 7 days, respectively) main groups each consisting of two subgroups-with and without heart injury. On the 6th and 7th days, isoproterenol (ISO) (85 mg/kg i.p.) was injected (s.c.) to half of the animal subgroups to induce myocardial damage. On the 8th day, after hemodynamic parameter recordings, hearts were removed for further evaluation. Mumie pre-treatment had no significant effects on hemodynamic and cardiac indices of normal animals. When the cardiac injury was induced, mumie maintained the Īdp/dt maximum, attenuated the serum cardiac troponin I, and reduced the severity of cardiac lesions. Despite the mild positive effects of mumie on total antioxidant capacity and lipid proxidation index, no significant difference was observed among animal groups. The findings suggest the prominent cardioprotective effect of mumie against destructive effects of ISO. It seems that other mechanisms than reinforcements of antioxidant system are involved in this beneficial effect.

Shilajit and sperm health and for improving fertility
The spermatogenic and ovogenic effects of chronically administered Shilajit to rats.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2006. College of Pharmacy, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Chungbuk, South Korea.
The effects of Shilajit on the formation of new sperms and eggs were studied using male and female rats. Shilajit was administered orally to 7-week-old rats over a 6-week period. In the male rats, the number of sperms in the testes and epididymides was significant higher than in the control. A histological examination revealed an apparent increase in the number of seminiferous tubular cell layers in the testes of the treated rats. However, there were no significant differences in the weights of heart, spleen, liver, kidney, brain, testes and epididymides. In the female rats, the effect of Shilajit was estimated by the ovulation inducing activity. Over a 5-day, ovulation was induced in seven out of nine rats in the Shilajit administration group and in three out of nine rats in the control. It was estimated that Shilajit had both a spermiogenic and ovogenic effect in mature rats.

Research study
Effects of Shilajit on the development of tolerance to morphine in mice.
Phytother Res. 2001.
Effects of concomitant administration of Processed Shilajit in Swiss mice were evaluated on the development of tolerance to morphine induced analgesia in the hot plate test. Chronic administration of morphine to mice over a duration of 10 days resulted in the development of tolerance to the analgesic effect of morphine. Concomitant administration of Shilajit with morphine, from day 6 to day 10, resulted in a significant inhibition of the development of tolerance to morphine induced analgesia. Processed Shilajit per se, in the doses used, did not elicit any significant analgesia in mice; nor did the chronic concomitant administration of Processed Shilajit alter the morphine-induced analgesia. These findings with Processed Shilajit indicate its potential as a prospective modifier of analgesic tolerance to morphine.

Systemic administration of defined extracts from Withania somnifera and Shilajit differentially affects cholinergic but not glutamatergic and GABA ergic markers in rat brain.
Neurochem Int. 1997.
Sitoindosides VII-X, and withaferin-A, isolated from aqueous methanol extract from the roots of cultivated varieties of Withania somnifera, as well as Shilajit, a pale-brown to blackish brown exudation from steep rocks of the Himalaya mountain, are used in Indian medicine to attenuate cerebral functional deficits, including amnesia, in geriatric patients. The present investigation was conducted to assess whether the memory-enhancing effects of these two plant extracts are owing to neurochemical alterations of specific transmitter systems. Administration of Shilajit led to reduced acetylcholinesterase staining, restricted to the basal forebrain nuclei including medial septum and the vertical limb of the diagonal band. Systemic application of the defined extract from Withania somnifera, however, led to differential effects on AChE activity in basal forebrain nuclei: slightly enhanced AChE activity was found in the lateral septum and globus pallidus, whereas in the vertical diagonal band AChE activity was reduced following treatment with sitoindosides VII-X and withaferin-A. Treatment with Shilajit or the defined extract from Withania somnifera affected neither GABAA and benzodiazepine receptor binding nor NMDA and AMPA glutamate receptor subtypes in any of the cortical or subcortical regions studied. The data suggest that Shilajit and the defined extract from Withania somnifera affect preferentially events in the cortical and basal forebrain cholinergic signal transduction cascade. The drug-induced increase in cortical muscarinic acetylcholine receptor capacity might partly explain the cognition-enhancing and memory-improving effects of extracts from Withania somnifera observed in animals and humans.

Antiulcerogenic and antiinflammatory studies with shilajit.
Ethnopharmacol. 1990.
In folk medicine, shilajit has been used to treat diverse clinical conditions ranging from peptic ulcer to bone healing. The present study was conducted to evaluate the possible antiulcerogenic and antiinflammatory activities of shilajit obtained from the rocky mountains of Zarlek, Badekshan, Afghanistan. Shilajit increased the carbohydrate/protein ratio and decreased gastric ulcer index, indicating an increased mucus barrier. Shilajit was found to have significant antiinflammatory effect in carrageenan-induced acute pedal oedema, granuloma pouch and adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. The results of the present study thus substantiate its use in peptic ulcer and inflammation.

Emails
Do penis enlargement pills work? Many of them have sex herbs in them. One of them had shilajit. Does it increase penis size?
    See penis enlargement for information. We don't believe shilajit increases penis size.

I asked a trustworthy associate from India to bring some shilajit for me from India on his return visit to the US. It resembles a bunch of sticky, black stones. How do I make the best use of this? How am I to consume or determine how to measure a reasonable quantity? I do not know the proper procedure to slice, shave or measure. What tools are used or do I melt into a liquid? I am asking for advice to utilize the substance, since I am unfamiliar with the processes used to reduce the gummy stones into a consumable portion.
    I am familiar with the powder form but not the form in stones. Different shilajit preparations have different potencies so it is difficult to give dosage guidelines.

Also known as Mumio or Mumijo.