This article is dedicated to the truly vain, the experimental, the Lara Crofts, the Indiana Joneses, the trail breakers, the mad scientists, the mountain-climbers, the women who wear 5 inch heels and mix their own creams and those who believe there is some magic in nature’s untouched state… If you are conventional and believe in the FDA – stop reading now.
Now, I know I am a sucker for anything that sounds like a magical potion for anti-aging. I know myself. My heart beats a little faster when I read about Ormus Minerals (perfect foods like avocados, almonds, apricot seed kernels etc. – see the link at the end of this article to get some goose bumps for yourself…). So when I overheard a yogi friend talking about his new Shilajit-fix my ears grew bigger. The below information is from a site that sells Shilajit (http://shilajitsupertonic.info/) but I buy mine from Upaya Naturals. I have been taking it for about a month now with no side effects and my skin looks wonderful but – I DO write an anti-aging blog so it is hard to tell if the Shilajit is making a significant impact or if my skin and health is a result of all my efforts. (With all that I’m doing I better look 40 at 65 dammit!)
I am entranced by the idea of Shilajit because our soil is so depleted of minerals and nutrients. Taking vitamins/nutraceuticals is an option (that I embrace) but the idea of drinking mineral and nutrient rich soil that was plucked from rock crevices far from mankind has a utopian tinge of romance sprinkled with a little Kipling no? Oh Lama where art thou?
Shilajit in its natural state looks like the word sounds but fear not – you can buy it in powder form. I take a small spoonful a day and it tastes a little muddy but Hell – it’s not the worst tasting substance I take daily… The Vain are tough and we don’t complain.
So what is Shilajit? To put it simply, it is supplement-like compound that when that supposedly provides a number of health benefits. It has been taken in one form or another for thousands of years in places like Tibet, India, Russia, China, Mongolia, and even ancient Greece. So, if it has been around so long, and it is amazing, why isn’t everyone taking it? Well, they are – it is the most popular medicinal compound on the Indian subcontinent. Shilajit is also known by almost a dozen different names (like Shilajeet, mineral pitch, black asphaltum) and is used in Ayurvedic and traditional medicine widely throughout Asia. The west has been extremely slow to adopt eastern medicine, despite an incredibly long tradition of medicinal experimentation that has produced time tested remedies.
Where does it come from/How is it made?
Shilajit is obtained from a few select mountain ranges in Asia, specifically the Tibetan Himalayas, the Russian Caucuses, Mongolian Altai, and the Pakistani Gilgit mountains. The Shilajit recommended here is from the Ladakh range in the northwestern Himalayas between India and Tibet, and is harvested at elevations over three thousand meters, or around ten thousand feet.
You heard right, harvested. Shilajit (black asphaltum) is not a man-made herbal or medicinal compound. It literally seeps from cracks in the mountains like a nectar or sap and is scraped from the stone. Basically, this stuff it is the blood of the mountains and the word Shilajit can be translated to mean rock-invincible, destroyer of weakness, or conqueror of mountains.
Metaphors aside, Shilajit is a naturally occurring exudate of plant and mineral based origins. In these mountains, organic and plant material dies, mixes with microorganisms or microbial metabolites in the soil, is saturated in water during the spring freeze, works its way deep into rocky crevasses, leaches minerals from the stone, gets compressed by layers of rock, brews and “ferments” in this compressed state for thousands of years, and when ready, due to the intense heat of the sun on the stones, bubbles up from down below. You’ve got a substance that is of both organic and geological origins, that is essentially a distillation of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, enzymes, electrolytes, and amino acids.
After the Shilajit is harvested it is either processed, or sold in its raw form. Be wary of sellers who sell their product in its raw form. Unprocessed, or improperly processed Shilajit can contain toxins and heavy metals… it did come from inside a mountain after all. If you’re worried about safety there’s a section on it below.
What are the benefits of Shilajit / Black Asphaltum?
The benefits of Shilajit as a supplement are legendary, and lore attributes the compound with magical properties that are heralded by the gods. Historically it has been used as a cure-all. In the past 60 or so years numerous scientific studies have shown its benefits, and continuing research confirms them.
It has been used traditionally for the following:
Increased energy and stamina (both physical, and sexual), enhancing meditative and spiritual practices, detoxification, as a remedy for general sicknesses, as an aphrodisiac, to treat premature ejaculation, as a supplement to boost the immune system, and again, as a general cure all.
Modern usages tend to exaggerate the “proven” benefits of Shilajit / Black Asphaltum as a panacea, or wonder substance for marketing reasons. In Nepal, Sherpas count it as essential to their diet, and scientists attribute their strength and longevity in part to Shilajit. In India it is widely used by men to invigorate, cure impotence, and treat premature ejaculation. In China it is used to build physical, spiritual, and sexual energy. Claimed usages include:
Diabetes/Blood Glucose Levels
Immune System Support
Urinary tract problems
Shilajit has been the subject of study primarily in Russia and India for the past several decades. The following benefits were investigated and confirmed in a laboratory setting.
- Anti-inflammation for arthritis and rheumatism
- Alzheimer’s prevention
- Cognitive and Memory Enhancer
- High altitude, hypoxia, lethargy
- Influenza, common cold
- Mental and physical rejuvenation or anti aging benefits
- Nootropic, smart drug, cognitive, memory enhancer
- Pain Relief and Injury Repair
- Stress and Anxiety reduction
- Ulcer Repair
How does Shilajit Work?
The most powerful substances in Shilajeet and black asphaltum, besides the combination of minerals, are the humic and fulvic acids. This is why it is sometimes called “mineral pitch.” There’s a ton of literature about the health benefits of these acid and if you’d like further reading on the subject and its mechanisms you can do so here. Basically, fulvic acid acts as one of the world’s most powerful poly-electrolytes and antioxidants, and it benefits in many cellular processes. It does this by increasing cell wall permeability and assisting in an influx of nutrients and an outflow of toxins. It is one of the only colloidal substances that moves easily through cell membranes.
This mobility contributes to increased bioavailability of the minerals and nutrients in Shilajeet. Herbs and vitamins taken with Shilajeet also see this increase. A great deal of mass market vitamins and supplements do contain essential nutrients, but they are simply not absorbed. It is important to take a bio-available supplement to ensure your body doesn’t flush out those expensive nutrients.
Consider the fact that our food is de-mineralized due to modern farming practices. Most of us are very mineral deprived or mineral deficient, and this can impact your mind, body, and energy. Black asphaltum (shilajit) contains over 80 trace minerals and is regarded by many as one of the most nutrient dense mineral substances on the planet. So those supplementing with it can expect to see benefits purely from a nutritive standpoint.
Is Shilajit safe?
Shilajit that is authentic and properly refined is very safe. It is safe taken in small amounts as a daily supplement, and also safe taken in higher dosages for people looking for greater effect.
A safety concern is that a good deal of suppliers outside of India and Tibet are actually selling ozokerit, which is a similar humic substance, but without any of the health benefits. Basically counterfeit Shilajit. Also, improperly refined black asphaltum… or unrefined for that matter, can contain contaminants and heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium.
The Shilajit recommended here is purified and prepared in Manali, India. It is harvested in Ladhak, Northern India (about two days travel North East of Manali) at extremely high altitude. The Tibetan doctor, and his family, who sourced the product have been preparing this compound for more than twelve generations and are considered supreme experts in Ayurvedic medicine, especially Shilajit. Of the 30 or so Shilajit’s that we’ve tried the two below are the only ones which produced the effects detailed in the Ayurvedic literature as a tonic and rejuvenating Rasayana. It has been tested for contaminants and was found to be safe, and to contain no organic contaminants whatsoever.
Considerations: You may want to consult a doctor about Shilajit / black asphaltum / mineral pitch if you have gout, are hypoglycemic or pregnant. I would actually consult a Chinese herbalist or Ayurveda professional to get their opinion. I have been hunting around Geneva for both but so far no dice.
For an Ormus Mineral Tingle check out the below link…
Ormus Minerals: http://books.google.ch/books?id=-KwPM8ggEUwC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=ormus+minerals&source=bl&ots=1RKeLDNnfO&sig=_4bqrqJhLBHLANljz-FkG0IQuQk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i_HnUYmpF46-PdT2gMgJ&ved=0CF0Q6AEwBTgU#v=onepage&q=ormus%20minerals&f=false
Follow me for a daily (usually) anti-aging tip. You too can look as luscious as a goddess and as ageless as a vampire!