Shilajit is a ‘nutrient-rich biomass’ which oozes from between the rocks in high-mountain crevasses throughout India. The substance, which looks like a black tar, is the result of the collision between Asia and India that formed the Himalayas and centuries of decomposition that followed. This collision crushed and compressed much of the tropical forests present at the time and all the biomass that lived there along with it. This process is what created shilajit and gave it the properties that make it so popular.
Cellular Energy and Mood
Specifically, shilajit is rich in fulvic and humic acids – two substances that play a key role in cellular energy. Additionally, it is also high in DBPs or dibenzo-alpha-pyrones which also have a key role in energy production.
These properties give shilajit its other name, the ‘destroyer of weakness’. It is described as having ‘energizer bunny properties’ and in one study it was found that it could increase energy efficiency by nearly twice as much in mice performing strenuous exercise (1). Specifically, it aids the mitochondria in cellular respiration, enabling them to more efficiently utilize oxygen in the blood to burn glucose for ATP.
Additionally, fulvic acid also appears to have benefits in combating cognitive decline (2) and preventing Alzheimer’s. For healthy patients it may help to improve memory, focus and mood.
Shilajit also appears to have potent antioxidant benefits due to its ability to increase oxygen efficiency. It may actually reverse mitochondrial damage and appears to have a synergistic action with CoQ10.
Should You Take Shilajit?
As with many popular supplements, there are many more claims surrounding shilajit that relate to its ability to cure asthma and other conditions. These are unfounded and unbacked by research.
As ever, it’s important to point out that there is no such thing as a ‘silver bullet’ that will turn you into superman. Don’t expect to jump out of bed feeling recharged after a single capsule and take the more extreme claims with a pinch of salt.
Another consideration is the purity of the products you order. Note that some may contain high amounts of lead, mercury and even arsenic, while raw forms might also contain harmful fungi.
With all that said though, the research surrounding shilajit is so far very promising as far as mitochondrial function goes and it may offer a cheaper and more potent alternative to other measures such as PQQ or CoQ10. Just make sure you moderate your expectations and do your research before making a purchase.