Dr Lalitha Palle, Founder and Director, MyPuraVida Wellness (the parent company of ForMen)
Shilajit is a natural, blackish, sticky, tar-like substance that is commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for various health benefits. It forms from the decomposition of plant material over centuries and can be found in rocky crevices and cliffs in mountainous regions. In India, Shilajit is commonly found in the Himalayan region, particularly in the state of Uttarakhand.
Shilajit is a complex mixture of both organic and inorganic compounds, and its composition may vary depending on the geographical region and the processing and purifying methods used.
Shilajit contains a variety of minerals and nutrients, including:
- Fulvic acid: A compound that may improve nutrient absorption and help detoxify the body.
- Humic acid: A compound that may improve gut health and digestion.
- Trace minerals: Shilajit contains various trace minerals, such as iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, which are essential for several biological functions.
- Antioxidants: Shilajit contains several antioxidants, such as dibenzo-alpha-pyrones, which may protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Amino acids: Shilajit contains several amino acids, including glycine, alanine, and proline, which are important for protein synthesis and several metabolic functions.
- Other bioactive compounds: Shilajit also contains various other bioactive compounds, such as terpenoids, phenolic acids, and fatty acids, which may have beneficial effects on health.
Shilajit is generally considered a rich source of minerals and nutrients that may offer several health benefits when consumed in moderation.
Fulvic Acid is the most important bioactive in Shilajit, and its concentration can range from 5 per cent to 50 per cent. Higher concentrations of fulvic acid mean a lower dose and better efficacy in the body.
Shilajit has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and is believed to offer several potential health benefits. Here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of consuming Shilajit:
Boosting energy and stamina: Shilajit may help improve energy levels and reduce fatigue by enhancing mitochondrial function and promoting the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy in cells. It may also improve the reproductive and performance functions in men.
Enhancing brain function: Shilajit may help improve cognitive function and memory by promoting the production of neurotransmitters and enhancing blood flow to the brain.
Supporting immune function: Shilajit may help boost the immune system by enhancing the activity of immune cells and promoting a healthy immune response.
Promoting anti-ageing effects: Shilajit contains several antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which are known to contribute to ageing.
Reducing inflammation: Shilajit may help reduce inflammation in the body by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Supporting bone health: Shilajit may help promote bone health by increasing the activity of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation.
Improving digestion: Shilajit may help improve gut health and digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut.
Resin Vs Capsule
Shilajit resin is a less processed form of Shilajit. It is a sticky, tar-like substance that is typically dissolved in water or other liquids before consumption. While it may have a more authentic composition, the resin form can be messy and have a bitter taste. Additionally, exact dose titration can be difficult.
Powdered forms of Shilajit, such as those found in capsules, are generally more processed. It is more convenient to use and may have a longer shelf life compared to Shilajit resin. Exact dose titration is also possible in capsule form.
The ideal form of Shilajit may depend on individual preferences, ease of use, and availability.
Effective dose of Shilajit & absorption in the gut
Most studies have used doses ranging from 100 to 500 milligrams per day. However, the absorption of Shilajit into the body depends on various factors, including the form of Shilajit, the dose, and individual factors such as the health status and metabolism of the person consuming it.
In general, the bioavailability of Shilajit is relatively low. This means that only a small percentage of the active compounds in Shilajit are absorbed and utilised by the body. Studies suggest that the bioavailability of Shilajit can range from 5 per cent to 25 per cent depending on the form and dosage. As such, consuming low doses of Shilajit (such as in oral strips, where the amount of Shilajit is too low) may not provide any benefits.
Combination of Shilajit + Ashwagandha Vs Shilajit alone
The combination of Shilajit and Ashwagandha is believed to have potential synergistic effects and may offer additional health benefits compared to consuming Shilajit or Ashwagandha alone.
Shilajit and Ashwagandha are both traditional Ayurvedic herbs with a long history of use in traditional medicine for various health conditions. Shilajit contains several bioactive compounds, including fulvic acid, humic acid, and minerals, that may help improve energy, cognitive function, and overall health. Ashwagandha, on the other hand, is known for its adaptogenic properties and is believed to help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and boost immunity.
A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that a combination of Shilajit and Ashwagandha improved energy, endurance, and overall health in human participants.
Shilajit is a potent natural substance and must not be consumed in doses that exceed the suggested or prescribed doses. Some reported side effects of Shilajit consumption may include:
- Digestive discomfort: Shilajit may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, bloating, or diarrhoea, in some individuals.
- Mineral imbalances: Shilajit is a rich source of minerals, and excessive consumption may lead to imbalances in mineral levels, particularly iron, copper, and zinc.
- Allergic reactions: Some individuals may be allergic to Shilajit, and may experience symptoms such as itching, hives, or difficulty breathing.
- Interaction with medications: Shilajit may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners or diabetes medications, and may affect their efficacy.
- Other potential side effects: In rare cases, Shilajit consumption may cause dizziness, headaches, or changes in blood pressure.
Diets can be supplemented with natural substances like Shilajit and Ashwagandha in the right doses, as discussed above, to give beneficial results while minimising the risks of side effects.
Uttarakhand: Leading Producer of Shilajit in India
What is the supply and demand scenario for Shilajit in India?
The supply of Shilajit largely depends on its availability in the mountains and the harvesting process. Shilajit is collected by local villagers who climb the mountains to extract it from the rocks. Uttarakhand is the leading producer of Shilajit in India, with the state’s high-altitude regions being the primary source of the substance.
In terms of demand, there is a growing interest in Shilajit in India and abroad due to its reported health benefits. Several companies in India produce and market Shilajit products. However, it’s difficult to determine which company makes the most Shilajit as production figures are not typically publicly disclosed. It’s also worth noting that the collection of Shilajit is largely done by local villagers, and the companies usually procure it from them or from middlemen. As a result, the quantity of Shilajit available for production may vary from year to year depending on factors such as weather conditions and availability.
Who are the major suppliers and producers of Shilajit in the country and what is their percentage?
In India, there are several suppliers and producers of Shilajit, but the exact percentage of their production is difficult to determine as there is no centralised authority or organisation that tracks this information.
Leading states in India where Shilajit is found or collected include:
- Uttarakhand is the largest producer of Shilajit in India. The state is home to the Himalayan mountain range, which is the primary source of Shilajit in the country. The resin is collected in the higher altitudes of the state, mainly in the districts of Chamoli, Uttarkashi, and Pithoragarh.
- Himachal Pradesh is another state in India that has a significant amount of Shilajit. The resin is found in the high-altitude regions of the state, especially in the districts of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, and Kullu.
- Jammu and Kashmir is known to have some Shilajit deposits, especially in the Ladakh region. However, due to the difficult terrain and unrest in the region, the production and collection of Shilajit in the state have been limited.
- Sikkim has some Shilajit deposits and the resin is found in the high-altitude regions of the state, especially in the districts of North Sikkim and West Sikkim.
- Arunachal Pradesh is another northeastern state in India that is known to have some Shilajit deposits. The resin is found in the higher altitude regions of the state, especially in the districts of Tawang and West Kameng.