Destroyer of weakness. Rejuvenator. Conqueror of mountains. Who wouldn't want shilajit in the cupboard or medicine cabinet, when it goes by names like these? The word literally means "born from stone." And as we'll see, this is literally true!
So what exactly is shilajit?
Pronounced “shee-la-jit” this gooey black resin seeps from crevasses in the Himalayan mountains (and numerous other mountain ranges, including the Rocky Mountains in North America and even mountain ranges in Antarctica!). Of course, similar substances come from other ancient mountain ranges around the world. Because of that, mineral pitch goes by many different names. (1)
When I first heard about it several years ago, I wondered what new-fangled herb this was. But there is nothing new about it!
Records referring to the benefits of this black goo go back 3,000 years. Often ranked the top herb in Ayurvedic medicine, shilajit is more like an "herbomineral" as its mineral and nutrient profile is pretty extensive. In fact, it contains about 84 herbs and minerals. (2)
That tar-like texture results from thousands of years of decomposition: it's decayed plant matter and soil broken down by microbes over millennia. (3)
As David Wolfe says, "Ancient old is new again!"
Here are 3 outstanding reasons to try Shilajit:
1. Fights Fatigue
What does every cell need for energy? Oxygen and nutrients. So the mitochondria -- those little organelles inside every cell -- require oxygen and nutrients to create energy. This herbomineral specifically has been found to drive nutrients into the cells to increase mitochondrial activity and reduce muscle fatigue. (4, 5)
As you can imagine, this characteristic of mineral pitch has some pretty important implications.
For one, those suffering from altitude sickness can get relief. And it's even more interesting when you think about where this stuff comes from. It's high in mountain ranges - specifically where the oxygen is thinnest.
So maybe that idea of Doctrine of Signatures applies here... Mineral pitch found at the highest altitudes help those suffering from the highest altitudes. After all, shilajit is the conqueror of mountains!
What's more, driving nutrients into cells also helps with muscle fatigue. Feelings of fatigue observed for over 6 months may lead to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Fortunately, one study demonstrated that mineral pitch actually reversed symptoms of CFS. (6, 7)
And a little black goo may be just what you need post-workout. With consistent use, your energy levels may go up while muscle fatigue and recovery time both go down. (8)
Just as shilajit counters fatigue in the body, it also supports the mind.
2. Supports Mental Acuity
Yes, the brain is a muscle. But while it doesn't function quite the same way as a bicep or calf muscle, it still has a high demand for oxygen and nutrients.
Research on the various compounds in mineral pitch shows promise for memory and feelings of fatigue. In a notable analysis of "mumijo" (another name given to the resin), its use protects cells against cell death related to Alzheimer's Disease. (9)
In their analysis, the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease concluded: "Shilajit is a potent and very safe dietary supplement, potentially able to prevent several diseases, but its main medical application now appears to come from its actions in benefit of cognition and potentially as a dietary supplement to prevent Alzheimer's disease." (10)
Cognitive health is one benefit. A healthy immune system is another.
3. Bolsters Immunity
So those nutrients driven into the cells? Yeah, they do other amazing things for you, too. Recent studies on the composition of Andean Shilajit in Chile show an ORAC score substantially higher than noni and blueberries! So in this context, shilajit seems to have powerful antioxidant properties. (11)
It's also an antiviral.
Likely thanks to the humic acid profile, shilajit has specific antiviral properties. A study in 2015 demonstrated that the resin protects cells from certain viruses. Mineral pitch actually activates the immune system, causing inflammation, and that bolsters the body's defenses against pathogens. (12)
On the other hand, shilajit also calms inflammation, as for example in the cases like allergies and asthma. In fact, the fulvic acid in mineral pitch has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory. Daily use can help with autoimmune conditions. (13)
So many diseases stem from the body's immune response. The ability of shilajit and fulvic acid to modulate inflammation makes it adaptogenic. An adaptogen specifically helps modulate your response to stressors. Shilajit clearly supports the immune system in this way.
Cancer cells respond to mineral pitch, too.
Two actions important to fighting cancer include causing dysfunctional cells to die off (apoptosis) and preventing cancer cells from proliferating. You don't want more cancer cells! Shilajit has this two-way benefit, as shown by a 2016 study. Researchers found that mineral pitch both supports apoptosis and inhibits cancer cell growth. (14)
In Ayurvedic tradition, shilajit was the conqueror of mountains and the destroyer of weakness. This prized medicine is powerful stuff! If you want to learn more about the superpowers of Shilajit, READ HERE.
As with any herb or mineral, this is not some quick-fix. Taking shilajit consistently over time will support your body through stress, high altitudes, physical exertion, and mental stimulation. If you have any questions, ask a knowledgeable healthcare provider or herbalist.