WHAT IS SHILAJIT?

Shilajit in Sanskrit means, “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness”.

Ancient Ayurvedic text, Charak Samhita written in app. 200BC, states that there is no curable disease in the universe, which is not effectively cured by Shilajit when it is administered at the appropriate times, in combination with suitable drugs and by adopting the prescribed method. When administered to a healthy person, with similar conditions it produces immense energy.

In the Sushruta Samhita, it is noted that there is no bodily distemper, which does not yield to shilajit’s highly curative virtues. When gradually taken, (in adequate doses) it tends to improve the strength and complexion of the body.

Shilajit is an ancient plant from the Himalayan region. It is found in India, China, Tibet and parts of central Asia since prehistoric times. It was said that, plants absorbed various minerals and nutrients from the soil to form rich and green vegetation. The plants in Himalayas was known to live for hundreds and even thousands of years. The plants then degenerate back into the soil. This process over many centuries formed the rich soil from which shilajit is known to have emerged.

The color ranges from yellowish and brownish to pitch-black, depending on the composition. For use in Ayurvedic medicine, pitch black variant is considered most potent. It is being uses in various traditional medication systems like Ayruveda, Unani, Siddha etc. and is extremely bitter in taste. It actually smells like cow’s stale urine.

Shilajit has been described as “mineral oil”, “stone oil” or “rock sweat” as it seeps from cracks in mountains due to the heat of the sun. in Tibetan culture, it is called as the “Juice of Rock” & in Burmese language it is the “Blood of the Mountains”.

Acc. to the 2007 study in the journal “Phytotherapy Research”, by Indian research team led by R. Khanna, shilajit has numerous names. In Sanskrit, it is called Silajit or Silaras, adrija, girija (all meaning derived from rock). In English, it is called asphalt, mineral pitch or Jews pitch. In Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, it is called Silajita, Shilajit. In Bengali, it is called Silajatu. In Arabic, it is called Hajarul-musa. It is also called, Momio in Persian, myemu in Russian and mumie in German. In Greek, it is called as mumijo which means ‘saving body’ or ‘protecting organism. There are several other terms for shilajit such as dathuras, dathusara, shiladhatu, etc. have been used in ancient medical texts.

The researchers also verify the fact that, shilajit is formed from vegetation fossils over thousands of years. They state that, “Shilajit mainly consists of paleohumus (around 80–85%) and organic compounds derived from vegetation fossils that have been compressed under layers of rocks for hundreds of years and have undergone a high amount of metamorphosis due to the high temperature and pressure conditions prevalent there. During warm summer months, shilajit become less viscous and flows out between the layers of rocks.”

HISTORY OF SHILAJIT

Shilajit has a very interesting history behind it. In the Hindu literature and in the ancient Ayruveda, shilajit has a very powerful presence. In the ancient times a king named Chandra Verma in India lived in India. He was said to have ruled the major part of the Northern India back then. He spent most of his youth in conquering land, waging wars and protecting it from the enemies. By the time he was 60yrs of age, though there was peace and contentment in the region but he found that by then he had lost all the youthfulness of life and could not enjoy the natural wealth and pleasure despite all the wealth and power he had. He then went on penance in the Himalayas and prayed to lord Shiva for his youthfulness. Lord Shiva was pleased with his prayers, offered him a substance to restore his youthfulness. This was said to be shilajit.

Lord Buddha who as we all know was prince Siddhartha earlier and belonged to a royal family was said to be the descendant of king Chandra Verma. In the world-renowned text, “The Kama Sutra” there is extensive mention of shilajit as a powerful aphrodisiac and restorer of youthfulness.

In the modern times, shilajit was first discovered by the western world by British Explorer Sir Martin Edward Stanley during the 1870s when India and Nepal were part of the British Empire. He found that most of the monkeys in the plains of northern India were bald by the time they reached 10 years of age, but in the Himalayan region, there were hardly any monkeys with aged look. He found that monkeys ate a blackish mineral pitch oozing near the rocks and that could be the reason behind the youthfulness of the monkeys. This was an odd behavior as the monkeys do not eat anything from the earth. The locals called it “silajitu”. Only the Indian yogis, there knew how to purify “silajitu” and was offered to few select people.

It is said that Persian emperors Darius and Xerxes learnt about shilajit from Indian yogis and consumed it themselves apart from giving it to their elite forces.

WHY IS SHILAJIT SO POWERFUL?

Shilajit contains various active ingredients like Fulvic acid, humic acid, trace minerals, vitamins A, B and C, phospholipids and polyphenols, minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, chromium, selenium etc. Fulvic acid is a unique health component and known to contain over 70 chelated vitamins. Fulvic acid is known to dilate the cell walls and transport the minerals deep into the cells. It helps in boosting energy, promote cell life, improve circulation, enhance endurance, and stimulate metabolism, control inflammation, regulate hormone production, boost the immune system and promote brain function. It is also a natural libido stimulator and a detoxing and cleansing agent.

Fulvic acid dissolves elemental minerals present in the soil, both metallic in origin, or shell-, rock-, and clay-based, and converts them into a form usable by plants, but also by humans and animals. When inorganic minerals come into contact with fulvic acid in a presence of water, they are dissolved into an ionic form and incorporated into the fulvic acid complexes, becoming an inherent part of the fulvic acid itself. In this form, they become highly bioactive and bioavailable to the living cells of our bodies.

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by a research team from Chile, led by C. Gallardo, found that shilajit is an extremely powerful antioxidant complex, and studies on a type of shilajit called Andean Shilajit found in Chile, has shown a much higher ORAC value than the super antioxidant compounds like Noni & Blueberries. (ORAC or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, is a unit of measurement for the antioxidant content of a particular food)

Gallardo & team also found that, traditionally, shilajit is consumed by people from Nepal and the North of India, and children usually take it with milk in their breakfast. The Sherpas claim to have shilajit as part of their diet; they constitute a population of strong men with very high levels of a healthy longevity.

For a 2003 study in the journal Ancient Science of Life, an Indian research team led by P. Sharma, recruited 30 students (age 16-30yrs) from the National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, of which 20 students were given 2grams purified shilajit, and the other 10 were given sugar (placebo) capsules, for 45 days. The study saw a significant reduction in serum TG, Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol and VLDL Cholesterol levels and significant improvement in HDL Cholesterol level. Decrease in serum TG and Cholesterol level with simultaneous increase in HDL suggests its hypolipidemic and cardio protective activity. Shilajit was also shown to increase the activity of the antioxidant enzyme SOD (superoxide dismutase).

Shilajit is also being used to treat various chest related problems like bronchitis, colds, cough, pneumonia etc. it is also found to be very effective in treating asthma, gallstones, jaundice, piles, enlarged liver and spleen, digestive disorders, renal and bladder issues, anemia, infertility, joint pains, ulcers, CNS disorders etc.

A 2014 study in the International Journal of Advanced Research, by Indian researchers Rege & Chowdhary, tested the efficacy of shilajit on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is the one which causes the devastating human disease called AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome). The researchers found that shilajit can be an effective HIV inhibitor, which could be due to the high flavonoid content it possesses.

A 2015 study in the International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, by an Indian research team led by N. Pradhan, suggests that, according to classical texts Shilajatu when used internally has to undergo purification as it is exposed to the soil and rocks of the mountain ranges. After purification it is ready to be used internally. Purification will remove the dirt/particles present in it, and make it more bioassimilble. (shilajit in its natural form is often contaminated with varied amount of impurities such as mycotoxins, heavy metal ions, reactive free radical etc.) There are various purification methods for shilajit in Ayurveda.

WHY SHILAJIT IS THE BEST TESTOSTERONE BOOSTER EVER

In a 2010 research in the journal Andrologia, T.K. Biswas & team studied the effect of shilajit on infertile patients. Initially 60 infertile male patients were assessed and those having low sperm count were included in the study. Processed shilajit capsules 100mg were administered twice daily after major meals for 90 days. Total serum testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) were estimated before and at the end of the treatment. 28 patients who completed the study showed significant improvement in sperm count, motility, serum testosterone and FSH.

A 2013 study in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Bio-Science, by an Indian research team, led by R.B. Gupta, evaluated the aphrodisiac and spermatogenic potential of extract of Shilajit in rats. Male rats were divided into four groups. Rats were orally treated with (1) Control group: distilled water (2) Viagra group: 4 mg/kg/day sildenafil citrate (3) Shilajit 50 mg/kg/day and (4) Shilajit 100mg/kg/day and their sexual behaviour was monitored 1h later using a receptive female. Their sexual behaviour was evaluated on days 0, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and 42days of treatment. At 50 mg/kg, and 100mg/Kg/day dose of Shilajit had a marked aphrodisiac action and On day 43 day the sperm count increased significantly in both the Shilajit groups, 50 mg/kg and 100g/kg. The results of the present study suggested that shilajit have a beneficial effect on male reproductive functions in rats. The increased sperm count and motility thereby shows that treatment with shilajit improves and enhances the fertilizing capacity of the Semen. (Motility of sperm plays an important role in transport of the sperm to site of fertilization and its penetration into the egg)

A 2016 study in the journal Andrologia, by an Indian research team from The West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata, led by S. Pandit, gave 250mg/day of purified shilajit, to 48 of the total 96 male subjects between 45-55yrs of age, for consecutive 90 days. The other 48 subjects were given a placebo. Treatment with Shilajit revealed that it has significantly increased total testosterone, free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) compared with placebo. Gonadotropic hormones (LH and FSH) levels were well maintained.

A 2016 study in the Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies, by a team of Pakistani researchers led by M.I. Haq, investigated the effects of shilajit on semen characteristics and scrotal circumference of testes of adult sheep. Twelve clinically healthy sheep were divided into three groups A, B and C, with four sheep in each group. Group A served as control. Shilajit was administered orally to the animals of the groups B and C, at 800 mg/sheep and 1600 mg/sheep, respectively daily for a period of seven weeks. The researchers found that shilajit was not only spermatogenic but also increased semen volume, mass activity, sperm motility and sperm count. Its administration also increased the scrotal circumference of the treated sheep. It was also concluded that better results are drawn in group C in which it is used at the rate of 1600 mg/sheep.

The antioxidant and aphrodisiac activity of shilajit have been reported by Dr. Salil K. Bhattacharya and scientists from the Neuropharmacology Lab, Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Medical Sciences, at the Banaras Hindu University. He also showed that the fulvic acid found in shilajit showed significant success in preventing and combating free radical damage to pancreatic cells, which is widely accepted as the cause of diabetes mellitus. The researchers saw an increased total testosterone, free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) compared with placebo.

HOW TO ASSESS THE PURITY OF SHILAJIT

Today there is a rising demand for pure shilajit in the world, due to which there are many counterfeits in the market, especially the ones in liquid, capsules and powder forms. There are various substances like coal, charcoal powder, certain fertilizers etc. which are used to manufacture fake shilajit.

Shilajit is a rare substance, the needs expert guidance for purification. If you get pure shilajit resin, it is dark in colour and is very viscous with a glossy sheen. Pure shilajit has an intense and distinctive smell: pungent and almost tar-like.

Here are the ways to test the originality of the same:

  • PLIABILITY – original shilajit melts in your hands and becomes sticky. Alternately, if you place it in the refrigerator to cool, it will become very hard and shatter like glass when struck with a hammer. If you try this, be sure to encase it in a plastic bag so you don’t make a mess or lose bits of your valuable supplement!
    Pure shilajit will always hold its form and not separate into clumps. It will mould itself according to the temperature of the surroundings. One should beware of resins, that are too hard almost like a brittle rock upon receipt. Or do not respond well when subjected to warmth. This is a major red flag and is a sign that the resin was processed very poorly or is and imitation product with added fillers.
  • SOLUBILITY – shilajit dissolves in warm water or warm milk completely, creating a golden or reddish liquid. If a residue is being left behind, then surely there is something fishy.
    Take Shilajit resin and pour in one glass of water. You will start seeing small sized particles dissolving in water by forming thread like structures. The complete dissolution of Shilajit takes about five minutes.  After dissolving the Shilajit, the color of water is changed into the black golden color, which ensure the purity of Shilajit.
    However, when you drink the dissolved shilajit, drink it very slowly, while rubbing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. A gritty or sandy texture indicates a significant percentage of non-soluble particles, a sign of low-quality or imitation shilajit, or that fillers have been added to the product. As well, if the solution tastes abnormally acidic it is an indicator that acidifiers were used to improve low quality Shilajit in order to make it pass the minimal tests requirements.
  • INSOLUBILITY – Shilajit does not dissolve in alcohol.  To confirm this test, mix the Shilajit powder in alcohol like in vodka and allowed to stand for 5 minutes. You will observe some clogging or clots in the mixture, which confirms the purity of Shilajit. Meanwhile, impure Shilajit will dissolve completely without having any clogs or clotting.
  • FLAME – Will not light on fire or burn like a candle. Heat shilajit with a mini blow torch. It will bubble and will not produce any smoke, particulates or ash. But it WILL NOT BURN.
  • FORM –  Do not trust powder forms. Most powders on the market that have any shilajit at all contain between 2 and 30 percent. Most powders have additives and fillers in them.


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