What is Shilajit?
Shilajit is a sticky tar-like resinous exudate pressed out from the layers of rock on the cliffs of Himalayan mountains at an altitude usually above 2000m. It is decomposed medicinal plant materials, generally roots, that have gone natural fermentation for at least 15 years in the crevices of mountain cliffs. Wide varieties of endemic bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms act upon this fermentation process creating a chain of metabolites that eventually yields sticky-tar like substance called shilajit. Basically the composting of these medicinal plant components happens in these cliffs’ crevices at extreme climatic conditions resulting in these metabolites having unique adaptogenic properties. During the summer and rainy season, water enters these shilajit bearing crevices in mountain cliffs and subsequently dissolved shilajit solution oozes out from the cliffs. This oozed solution, because of sunlight and summer heat, dehydrates, and sticks to the rocks on the surface of cliffs. Shilajit is naturally hygroscopic so it absorbs moisture and is always in hard resin form found attached to the rocks. It is close to impossible to convert pure shilajit into powdered form.
Word shilajit also spelled shilajit (Hindi: शिलाजीत) and salajeet (Urdu: سلاجیت), is a compound word that comes from Sanskrit. ‘Shila’ means ‘rock’ and ‘jeet’ means ‘to conquer’. In Sanskrit, it means “Conqueror of Mountains and Destroyer of Weakness”. Its scientific interpretation can be analogous to the chelating property of shilajit. Shilajit chelates minerals present in rocks that get converted into the bioactive form so that other life forms could use them. Because of this nature, shilajit is a powerhouse of more than 80 biologically active minerals. Main minerals chelating components of shilajit are humic substances such as fulvic and humic acids along with other numerous carbon metabolites such as carbon-60 (buckminsterfullerene), all naturally produced during years of constant fermentation. In Ayurvedic medicine, shilajit has been used for over 5000 years to treat almost any diseases. In Ayurveda, it is believed that there are no diseases that shilajit cannot cure in the universe when it is combined with the right herbs at the right time. Other unique bioactive components in purified shilajit resin are dibenzo-alpha pyrones, phospholipids, triterpenes, phenolic acids, along with many trace minerals. Shilajit has a distinctive smell of cow urine (degree of which depends on source) and has a complex taste with a mixture of pungent, bitter, and astringent. In Ayurveda, shilajit is also known as a “Yoga Vaha”, meaning that it has the ability to enhance the absorption and effectiveness of other herbs or supplements. Because of unique metabolites present in shilajit, it is also an excellent adaptogenic supplement, meaning it helps the body to adapt or process both internal and external stressors. It has been used for thousands of years to fight stress and fatigue, while detoxifying, rejuvenating, and regenerating tired cells. Because of complex minerals present in bioactive ionic forms, shilajit also acts as a superior electrolyte that balances the electrical conductivity throughout cells and cellular organelles.
Method of purification:
Our shilajit resin is extracted from raw shilajit rocks using pure water utilizing both the Agni-Tapi and Surya-Tapi method of Ayurveda. Initially, shilajit rocks are dissolved in pure water for 5 days, then, only the lighter molecular weight (fraction with higher fulvic/humic acids) part of the dissolved shilajit is separated. After that, Agni-Tapi (heating) is done below 50 degrees Celsius to evaporate excess water and precipitate heavy metals and undissolved particles. This process takes about 8 days for a batch of 50kg shilajit rocks. Then Surya-Tapi (sun drying) is done for at least 50 days to skim off resin continuously. Filtration of humins and undissolved particles are done in each and every step throughout the process. No milk, cow urine, or any other herbs are used in the process like what many traditional processors do to adulterate the shilajit here in Nepal.
Physical Characteristics of pure shilajit resin:
Color of shilajit resin (also called shilajit paste) ranges from pure black to dark brown. It has more bitter to less astringent taste. The density of pure shilajit resin is between 1.4 to 1.5 g/cm3. At temperature above 25 C, the resin becomes soft, sticky and malleable, taking the shape of a container it is in. At temperature below 24 c, resin starts to become harder, less sticky, and very less malleable. At temperatures below 5 c, shilajit resin becomes very hard and can be broken down into pieces if hit with a hammer. The premium quality of pure shilajit resin will completely dissolve in water leaving almost zero residues and zero cloudiness. Pure shilajit resin will not dissolve in oils or high proof alcohol.
The direction of use:
200 to 500mg of resin (maximum of a pea-size portion per day) can be dissolved in hot water, tea, or warm milk. It can also be mixed with Himalayan pink salt with water as a pre-workout electrolyte boost. If you are less than 50kg (110lbs or less) then 200mg per day is enough. If you are between 60 to 75kg (140lbs +- 15lbs) then up to 400mg per day is a good dose. If you are over 80kg (175lbs+) then 500mg per day is the ideal dose. Overdosing has no adverse effect, but not recommended.
Is Shilajit safe for all age groups?
Except for children below 4 years old, shilajit can be consumed by all age groups both male and female. Especially people over 30 years of age will benefit the most. Pregnant women or any person with special health conditions should consult a professional doctor (preferably clinical nutritionist) before consuming.
How to test the authenticity of genuine premium grade shilajit resin?
In order to test if any pure shilajit resin is of premium grade, two steps should be followed mandatorily. First and foremost we need to identify whether the shilajit resin is fake or real. In order to know that we first have to perform a flame test before proceeding to any other tests. A flame test is performed by taking about a pea-size of shilajit resin on the backside of a spoon and applying flame to it using a lighter or candle. If the shilajit resin is pure then it should not burn but should expand and bulge out. If it is totally fake then it starts to burn itself and will drop like a droplet on the floor without expanding. If it is adulterated (mixed) then some parts of it will drop or burn and some parts would expand. After the flame test, we would know whether the shilajit resin is totally fake, adulterated, or pure. If the resin is pure then we can perform the next test to know if the pure shilajit resin is of premium quality or not. This test is called a solubility test. For this test, take a glass of clean warm water. Take about a pea-size of shilajit resin on the backside of a spoon and put it on the glass. Leave it for about 5 minutes, and then mix it by stirring. The resulting solution should be crystal clear like whiskey with 99.9% of shilajit resin dissolved in water. If the solution is cloudy and has some prominent undissolved particles then we know that the shilajit resin is not of premium quality. Remember all premium shilajit resins are pure, but all the pure shilajit resins are not premium. Also, another test that premium shilajit resin should pass is a pliability test. It is a test to see whether moisture content in a shilajit resin is within a certain limit. Because many pure shilajit resins sold in the market are the semi-liquid type which has a low shelf life and moisture content is way too much to be categorized as resin (or paste).
If tap water is used to mix shilajit then make sure to boil it in order to remove chlorine from the tap water. Chlorine in an isolated form is not found in nature so when in contact with organic compounds it may react and form toxic byproducts. Also, be aware of fake shilajit or adulterated shilajit that is available in the market for a cheap price. In Nepal and India, 100% fake shilajit is made by slowly cooking molasses and milk until the shilajit resin type of consistency is obtained. Also, cow urine is added to fake shilajit resin while preparation to get a shilajit-like smell. Authentic Shilajit resin is rare, very labor-intensive to collect and prepare.