Shilajit is a millennial-old herbal tonic prized by Ayurvedic practitioners for its heart, energy and brain-boosting benefits. When exposed to the heat of the summer sun, this viscous, tar-like substance seeps out of the Himalayan mountains, producing a biomass dense with healing nutrients.
In Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, shilajit has been used to improve:
- Heart health
Research is now showing that shilajit also helps activate cellular energy, protect against diabetes, defend against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and regulate inflammation processes in the body. Its versatile nature is exceptional, and in part due to the fact that it’s an adaptogen, which means it can aid the body in adapting to internal and external stressors.
ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is a usable form of energy that is generated when mitochondria convert food into energy. Mitochondrial activity and ATP production taper off as we age. As a result, our central nervous system function diminishes, and memory and cognitive deterioration kick in.
Shilajit may help boost ATP production and possibly revitalize cell energy by ushering nutrients and oxygen into cells. It does this with the help of compounds known as fulvic and humic acids, both of which help fuel energy production within cells. Fulvic acid sparks mitochondrial energy conversion and makes energy production more efficient, and humic substances accelerate the transfer of electrons along the electron transport chain.
In one study, volunteers took 200 mg of shilajit every day for 15 days. The amount of available energy in participants’ blood was roughly the same before and after vigorous exercise sessions, suggesting that shilajit helps sustain cellular energy.
An animal-study showed that mice subjected to two hours of strenuous exercise and ATP expenditure had greater energy stores left over when given shilajit. Other studies demonstrate shilajit’s unique ability to enhance the effects of synergistic energy-enhancing nutrients, particularly CoQ10. In one study, shilajit increased the effects of CoQ10 by 29%, suggesting that a combination of the CoQ10 and shilajit may significantly boost cellular energy and mitochondrial function.
Shilajit for Neurodegenerative Illness
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is essential to memory and brain health. It’s also notoriously deficient in Alzheimer’s patients. Research indicates that shilajit reduces levels of an enzyme that breaks acetylcholine down, and in doing so may help increase levels of acetylcholine in the brain.
Alzheimer’s patients also have a buildup of abnormal proteins called tau proteins and beta-amyloid proteins in their brains. The accumulation of tau and beta-amyloid proteins has been implicated as a significant factor in neuronal dysfunction and early brain cell death, but thus far no drug has been found to help. Lab and animal studies, however, suggest that fulvic acid (one of the primary components of shilajit) suppresses the accumulation of these proteins. Shilajit has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine deficiency is common in Parkinson’s patients.
Supplementing with Shilajit
Shilajit has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate, and recent studies show it may help protect against heart muscle injury caused by a heart attack.
Consult your healthcare practitioner before supplementing with shilajit. Shilajit should be solid at room temperature, dark brown to black in color, taste slightly bitter, and melt in your hand. Shilajit is also sold in capsule, tablet, and tincture form.