Shilajit, also called mumijo, mumio, or mineral pitch, is the result of plant matter decomposing over centuries at very high altitudes. This sticky, tar-like substance was traditionally sourced in India and Nepal, primarily embedded in the rocks of the Himalayan mountain range. Today, it is also sourced from Tibet, Russia, Iran, Mongolia, and the southern part of the Andes mountain range in South America. Shilajit has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a rejuvenator and anti-aging compound, and to treat many conditions including altitude sickness and dementia. Current studies have found shilajit supplements to aid as a non-invasive infertility treatment, or in helping muscle and bone health.
- Origin: Himalayan mountain range, but sourced in other places around the world.
- Uses: Rejuvenator, brain health, altitude sickness.
- Other Names: Mumijo, mumio, mineral pitch.
- Where to Buy: Health stores, upscale grocers, online retailers.
What Is Shilajit?
Shilajit is a sticky, tar-like substance that can range in color from yellow to brownish-black. Comprising mainly fulvic and humic acids, components that benefit in treating inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and oxidative processes in the human body, shilajit can be found in a range of formats and prices and can be consumed in a variety of ways. Studied by Western medicine as an aid in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, shilajit is also being studied in treating skin disorders, infertility, dementia, and bone health.
Four main varieties of shilajit exist. Red, white, black, and blue are types of shilajit in which metal content varies depending on the color and origin. Black types carry more iron, red carry more gold, white have more silver and blue more copper. Black is the most common, whereas red and blue are the hardest to come by.
Lower-grade (and more affordable) Siberian mumiyo (shilajit in Russian) is harvested in the Altai mountain range, which rises no more than 14,000 feet, whereas Himalayan shilajit is collected at above 16,000 feet. Shilajit can be found in powdered or liquid form, as well as in tablets, capsules, and as a resin.
Mainly used as a supplement to treat a variety of ailments, or to aid general good health, shilajit can be stirred into your favorite beverage. In resin form, it can easily be dissolved under the tongue. The recommended dose of shilajit is 300 to 500 mg per day but always consult with your primary care doctor as these supplements are not FDA approved and although studied, are still more part of the traditional, folk medicine and word-of-mouth realm, than science-backed Western medicine.
What Does It Taste Like?
Shilajit tastes earthy and bitter, much like charcoal. Tablets and capsules are easier to costume, without the charcoal taste or odd mouth feel.
The liquid form of shilajit can be used in smoothies or in other sweet beverages. In Ayurvedic tradition, shilajit resin is dissolved in warm milk, ghee, sesame oil, or honey or a combination of two or more of these ingredients plus some spices. Hot water and shilajit resin are taken after meals to aid digestion.
Where to Buy Shilajit
Shilajit is sold at health food stores and through online retailers. It is available in several forms including powder, liquid extract, resin, tablets, and capsules. Shilajit is generally expensive and varies greatly in price and quality, costing between $15 and $1500 per ounce.
Consume only purified shilajit that has been properly processed. Raw shilajit may contain heavy metals, free radicals, fungus, and other contaminants that can make you sick. Since shilajit is considered an herbal supplement, it isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for quality, purity, and strength. Research your options carefully and choose a reputable source.
Liquid shilajit should be stored, sealed, and refrigerated in its original container. In other forms, shilajit can be stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, use within 2 to 3 years.
Nutrition and Benefits
Shilajit has been used as a traditional Ayurvedic treatment for altitude sickness. Fulvic and humic acids are believed to act as carriers, actively transporting nutrients into deep tissues and helping improve the brain's cognitive processes, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation; all of which could alleviate altitude sickness.
Das A, Datta S, Rhea B, et al. The human skeletal muscle transcriptome in response to oral shilajit supplementation. J Med Food. 2016;19(7):701-709. DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2016.0010
Ghezelbash B, Shahrokhi N, Khaksari M, Ghaderi-Pakdel F, Asadikaram G. Hepatoprotective effects of Shilajit on high fat-diet induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Nafld) in rats. Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2020;41(1). DOI: 10.1515/hmbci-2019-0040
Meena H, Pandey HK, Arya MC, Ahmed Z. Shilajit: A panacea for high-altitude problems. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010;1(1):37-40. DOI: 10.4103/0974-7788.59942