Touted often as the “Destroyer Of Weakness” by Ayurvedic practitioners, Shilajit is one such herbo-mineral or Rasaoushadhi that has remained a crucial component in the process of healing since centuries. Sanctified with powerful adaptogenic and aphrodisiac properties, Shilajit or Asphaltum as denoted in English is not only used for managing stress and anxiety but also plays a significant role in treating conditions like dysuria, glycosuria, breathing disorders, urinary disorders, kidney stones, oedema, skin diseases, phthisis, piles, anaemia, epilepsy, mental disorders, and worm infestation. The main function of Shilajit is to regulate and improve the functions of the thyroid gland.
What Is Shilajit?
Shilajit is an astonishing sticky tar-like resinous substance that is neither completely plant nor of animal origin. In nature, Shilajit is a type of mineral pitch that is made up of humus and decomposed plant remains, exuded from the rocks present in the Himalayas at an altitude of 1000 to 5000 metres above sea level.
Ancient ayurvedic scriptures detail that in the summer months of Jeshta and Ashada, the mountains get heated up due to the direct sun rays melting the layers of mountain and yielding a resin-like semisolid liquid substance known as Shilajatu. But originally, several million years ago, when the Indian subcontinent collided into the Asian continent, the Himalayan mountains were formed crushing and trapping the tropical forests in between the huge boulders. When these components got pressed between massive layers of rocks for millions of years, they were converted into a tar-like gummy substance that may be black, brown or white in colour, and look like asphalt. Whenever there is a crack in the rock due to excessive heat, the material oozes out of it and settles itself on the rocks. The exuded herbo-mineral, known as Shilajit is rich in minerals and nutrients and has an abundance of bio-active humic and fulvic acid. These are found in high altitude mountains of Kashmir, Bhutan, Japan, Gilgit and Tibet.
Common Names Of Shilajit
Shilajit is usually known as Asphaltum, Black Bitumen, or Mineral Pitch in English. Other names that refer Shilajit in Ayurveda in other states within India includes Silajat, Shilajatu, Silajatu, Kanmandam, Saileya Shilaja, Moomie, Moomiyo, Punjabinum, Memiya, Shiladhatuja, Adrija, Shilasweda, Shilaniryasa, Asmaja, Asmajatuka, Shilamaya, Girija, Gaireya.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Shilajit
Ayurveda, the holistic science of herbal remedies has extensively mentioned the use of this time-tested compound multiple times in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals of Charaka and Susruta. It is mostly indicated for use in the following conditions which include, Prameha (manages diabetes), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Rasayani (rejuvenates the whole body), Medhya (improves intelligence), Balya (improves muscle strength), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Pandu (treats anaemia), Varnya (improves complexion), Kshayajit (treats tuberculosis), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Jvara (useful in fever), Anulomana (improves breathing), Kasahara (Relieves cough, Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Gulmajit (useful in abdominal tumours), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), Hridaya (treats heart problems), Krichra (treats painful micturition), Chakushya (treats eye problems), Garbhaprada (treats infertility), Vamanopaga (treats emesis), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), Kanthya (improves voice), Arsha (treats piles), and Pushtida (good for nutrition).
Types Of Shilajit
The types of Shilajit is characterised from the type of mountainous rocks from which it exudes:
Rocks containing Gold (Charka Samhita Shilajit):
Shilajit oozing out of these rocks have a Japa (i.e. Hibiscus flower) or reddish colour and has Madhura and Tikta Rasa and Katu Vipaka.
Rocks containing Silver (Rajat Shilajit):
Shilajit coming out of these rocks are whitish in colour and have a Katu Rasa and Madhura Vipaka.
Rocks containing Copper (Tamra Shilajit):
The exudation from these types of rocks has a peacock-throat like appearance, i.e. bluish-purple colour and shows Tikta Rasa and Katu Vipaka.
Rocks containing Iron (Lauha Shilajit):
Considered as the best variety, the exudation looks quite similar to the gum of Guggulu (i.e. Commiphora mukul) and portrays Tikta and Lavana Rasa and Katu Vipaka.
Chemical Composition of Shilajit
The conformation of this essential mineral compound is basically influenced by attributes such as the type of plant-species involved, the geological nature of the rock, surrounding temperature, altitude and humidity of the particular region.
Shilajit usually comprises of 60-80% organic matter, 20-40% mineral matter and 5% of trace elements. Several reports and scientific data suggest that it contains around 80 bio-active components including fatty acids, benzoic acid, hippuric acid, resin and waxy materials, albuminoids, gums, and vegetable matter. Being a Phyto-complex, Shilajit mainly contains (60 – 80%) of humus substances like humins, humic acids and fulvic acid. Additionally, it also contains triterpenes, sterols, ichthyol, ellagic acid, resin, aromatic carboxylic acid, 3, 4-benzocoimiarins, amino acids, phenolic lipids, minerals like silica, iron, antimony, lithium, manganese, calcium, copper, molybdenum, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, selenium and small amounts of dibenzo-α-pyrones (metabolites derived from plants, fungi, animal faeces or mycobionts). But the curative and therapeutic properties of Shilajit mainly comes from the presence of fulvic acid that helps in treating a wide range of conditions.
How To Purify Shilajit?
Purification or Sodhana as termed in Ayurveda is must when it comes to Shilajit. Although Shilajit is quite an important mineral in Ayurveda, it can only be used after a thorough purification method using several herbal tinctures and other compounds. The presence of impurities in the form of soil, dirt etc reduces the therapeutic and curative effects of the mineral and makes it unfit for human consumption. The purification process not only removes impurities and microbes that might reside in the mineral but also enhances the therapeutic efficacy of the product. Shilajit can be purified using several methods like using Cow’s Ghee or Dashamoolarishta but the mostly used standardised method is by Triphala Decoction.
Purification Of Shilajit Using Triphala Decoction
1 kg Triphala powder i.e.(a combination of Amalaki, Haritaki and Bahera)
64 litres of water
1.5 kg Shilajit pieces
Mix 1 kg of Triphala powder and 64 litres of water in an iron pot.
Boil this mixture on high flame for some time and then reduce the flame.
Keep checking until the mixture reduces to ¼ of the original quantity.
Remove the pot from the flame and allow it to cool.
Now filter the decoction and keep it in a separate vessel.
Put the shilajit pieces in the filtered triphala decoction.
Allow it to soak for 24 hours.
After the given time, heat the mixture in the iron pot until the shilajit dissolves in the triphala decoction and float on the surface.
Slowly drain the melted shilajit and filter it carefully.
Heat the obtained melted shilajit on low flame until it becomes thicker in consistency.
Remove the vessel from the flame.
Scrape out the shilajit and keep it under direct sunlight.
After complete drying, the purified shilajit is obtained to be used for therapeutic purposes.
Shilajit Capsule Or Gutika
Imbued with a host of medicinal properties and a potent stimulatory effect on the immune system, this capsule or gutika made from Shilajit and Amla help in treating and preventing a wide range of anomalies and extensively help in promoting the overall health and longevity of an individual. Not only does this formulation help in overcoming general debility but also treat conditions like peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, bronchitis, osteoporosis, rheumatism etc.
390 mg Purified Shilajit - Asphaltum
50 mg Amla or Indian Gooseberry – Phyllanthus emblica
Purify the shilajit thoroughly using triphala decoction followed by cow’s ghee.
Wash, clean and cut the amla into small pieces.
Put both the components under direct sunlight until the moisture gets removed.
Put it in a grinder and transform it into a powdered form.
Again put it under the sun to remove any remaining moisture particles.
Sieve it thoroughly using sieve no. 100 to remove impurities and uneven particles.
Roll the powder onto your palm to make circular vatis or use capsule munching machine for large scale production.
Subject the gutikas or capsules to an air dryer to remove any moisture present in it.
Store it in airtight containers for future use.
Health Benefits Of Shilajit
The outstanding hypoglycaemic property of shilajit plays a key role in regulating the blood glucose and lipid profiles in diabetes patients, particularly when taken along with diabetes medications. The production of insulin from the pancreatic β-cells becomes active in taking shilajit formulations. It helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels. Also Read: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Improves Cognitive Functioning
Shilajit is a traditional remedy to increase the functioning of the brain. The presence of bioactive small molecules called dibenzo-alpha-pyrones prevents the breakdown of the brain chemicals needed for memory hence enhancing memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Being a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shilajit capsules or other formulations have improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities and are thus used for treating Alzheimer’s and other psychotic conditions.
Shields From Intestinal Troubles
The potent anti-inflammatory and purgative properties of shilajit help to suppress the toxic bacteria Helicobacter pylori and also prevents it from growing in the gut. Owing to its strong laxative nature and peristaltic effects, it effectively prevents constipation, piles by softening the stool and facilitating smooth passage through the body. It also prevents the fluid from drying up in the colon and averts abdominal pain, abdominal distension, intestinal gas, flatulence, colic, etc. Also Read: Digestive Disorders: 7 Ways To Improve Gut Health
Remedies Stress And Anxiety
Being a powerful adaptogen, Shilajit is beneficial for treating different types of psychotic problems like depression, dementia, etc. It stabilises the Vata and Pitta doshas in the body which in turn keeps the serotonin level under control and helps to reduce various symptoms of anxiety which includes uneasiness, restlessness, cold hands, and feet, etc.
The potent antidepressant properties of the herb also help in calming the mind, reducing all sorts of physical and mental stress, irritability and improving energy and stamina. Also Read: Anxiety Attacks? Here’s How You Deal With It
Promotes Cardiac Functioning
Shilajit is one such herbo-mineral compound that has been found to have a positive effect on the heart. Imbued with antioxidants and cardio-protective properties, it plays a crucial role in treating a host of heart ailments. It relaxes the cardiac system, by soothing the mind, which is extremely advantageous for patients suffering from arrhythmias and palpitations. It is also beneficial in strengthening the heart muscles, dropping cholesterol levels in the blood and preventing lipid accumulation, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart blocks, heart attacks, blood clots, etc. Also Read: Top 10 Superfoods For A Healthy Heart
Slows Ageing Process
Shilajit is well known for its regenerative effects. Not only does it help in tissue repair and regeneration but also owing to the potent antioxidant activity, it protects against cellular damage, and hence reduces the ageing process in the tissues of the heart, lungs, liver, and skin. The presence of fulvic acid shields the body against free radical damage and the abundance of antioxidants maintains a balanced ratio of calcium in the bones making one stronger. Shilajit also bolsters the immune system and prevents infections.
Enhances Fertility And Libido
Shilajit offers a one-shot traditional remedy for boosting libido and improving fertility in men. It showcases strong aphrodisiac properties that not only helps in reducing mental stress and anxiety but also stimulates the production of testosterone that increases fertility and libido. It plays a key role in increasing virility and stamina in men. Consuming purified shilajit capsules alongside milk before sleeping has been known to increase blood circulation in the genitals which thereby improves the production of male hormones like testosterone and luteinizing hormone, thus improving the motility and quality of sperms in male. Also Read: Shatavari: Benefits, Uses, Formulations, Ingredients, Method, Dosage and Side Effects
Remedies Pain And Inflammation
The abundance of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the bioactive ingredients in Shilajit makes it the ultimate choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It is also extremely effective against Rheumatoid arthritis which is known as Amavata in ayurveda. Amavata is generally caused due to vitiation of Vata doshas and accumulation of Ama in the joints.
Treats Wounds And Ulcers
The anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties of the bioactive components present in Shilajit hold high significance in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. It also promotes tissue regeneration and hence facilitates wound healing.
Anemia is a condition where there is a reduced number of red blood cells or haemoglobin in the blood or a dysfunctional RBC. The presence of high levels of humic acid and iron in this herbo-mineral compound is extremely beneficial in improving haemoglobin levels and RBC count and eventually treating iron deficient anemia.
Facilitates Weight Loss
The abundance of active components in purified shilajit helps the body shed excess weight faster. When taken regularly, supplements of shilajit helps in satiating sudden hunger pangs and prevents overeating and hence can play a pivotal role in one’s weight loss regimen. It also reduces the accumulation of LDL (i.e. Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, and activates the genes which helps the body to respond positively to a workout, thereby improving metabolism and facilitating the body in maintaining a proper weight.
Rectifies Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a troublesome health condition characterized by intense fatigue and loss of energy due to physical and mental stress. The quarry of minerals present in shilajit extensively helps to improve cellular functions in the body, which ultimately increases energy and eventually treats fatigue syndrome with time.
Effect On Doshas
Shilajit, the celestial exudation from the Himalayas is hallowed with three distinct tastes namely Katu Rasa (i.e. pungent taste), Tikta Rasa (i.e. bitter taste) and Kashaya Rasa (i.e. astringent taste). It shows Laghu (i.e. light) and Rukhsha Guna (i.e. dry quality). It inherently portrays Shita Virya (i.e. cold potency) and Katu Vipaka (i.e. pungent metabolic taste). Being dry and light, it pacifies the Kapha (earth and water) and Vata doshas (i.e. air) whereas having a pungent metabolic taste and cold potency, the herb detoxifies the Pitta (fire and air) doshas. Owing to the essential properties and doshas, the herb has a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids). Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
The effective therapeutic dosage of Shilajit may vary from person to person depending upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, severity, and condition of the patient. It is firmly recommended to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner as he or she would evaluate the patient’s indications, past medical conditions and prescribe an effective dose for a specific period.
Adults: 250 – 1000 mg or 2 capsules, along with milk or water, twice a day, one empty stomach in the morning and the other one before sleep or as suggested by the health care provider.
Although the mineral has been studied and researched extensively and is extremely beneficial in treating umpteen health conditions, it is still necessary to consume the formulation in the prescribed amount as suggested by the ayurvedic practitioner or doctor. An excess of it or an impurified version may lead to certain complications. These allergic reactions can be in the form of burning sensation in the feet, excessive heat throughout the body, increase in urination, itchiness, hives, dizziness or an increased heart rate.
Since ancient times, this resinous exudation from the Himalayas has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures as an ultimate remedy for numerous health anomalies. This incredible medicinal compound is classified as an adaptogen and helps in normalising stress and anxiety. Being a powerful aphrodisiac, it improves libido, treats various infertility issues and improves the reproductive health in both men and women. It also ensures better functioning of the heart, controls diabetes, aids in digestion, enhances memory, treats inflammation and thus improves overall stamina and body immunity.