The Health Benefits of Shilajit A mineral-rich resin used in Ayurveda Shilajit is a blackish-brownish resin rich in minerals that comes from layers of rock in several mountain ranges throughout the world, including the Himalayan, Tibetan, and Altai mountains. Shilajit is thought to form, in part, from the decomposition of certain plants and contains an important compound known as fulvic acid. One of many herbs and mineral formulations (Rasaoushadhies) used in Ayurveda—a healing system that originated thousands of years ago in India—shilajit has been used in some traditional herbal medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions, ranging from bone fractures to impotence. Health Benefits Research on the health benefits of shilajit is limited. Very few well‐designed, placebo‐controlled, peer-reviewed human or animal studies have been published. However, several preliminary studies suggest that shilajit may have the potential to offer certain health benefits. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?is a condition characterized by extreme fatigue that cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. According to a preliminary rat study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2012, shilajit may aid in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. After giving laboratory rats shilajit for 21 days, scientists found that the treatment may influence several processes involved in the body's production of energy. In addition, the treatment appeared to alleviate anxiety and protect against oxidative stress. Alzheimer's Disease Shilajit shows promise as a candidate in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a progressive type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. According to a report published in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2012, the fulvic acid found in shilajit may help block the buildup of tau, a type of protein that forms neurofibrillary tangles and is considered a key marker of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. The report's authors note, however, that a great deal more research is needed to examine shilajit's effectiveness as an Alzheimer's disease treatment. Sperm Count and Motility A study published in 2010 investigated the effects of this dietary supplement in 35 infertile men. After taking 100 milligrams (mg) of processed shilajit in capsule form for 90 days, 28 subjects who completed the study showed statistically significant increases in normal and total sperm count and sperm motility Blood Chemistry A small study published in 2003 found improvements in blood chemistry when 30 individuals ranging in age from 16 to 30 years were studied. Participants were randomized into two groups. One group of 20 participants took 2 grams of shilajit, and another group of 10 participants took sugar pills for 45 days. Researchers noted significant decreases in serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the shilajit group relative to the placebo group. The shilajit group also demonstrated improved antioxidant status. However, study authors tested for—but did not see—changes in blood pressure, pulse rate, or body weight. Other Uses In addition to these limited studies, there are anecdotal reports regarding the health benefits of shilajit. The supplement is touted as a natural remedy for the following health problems: - Anemia - Chronic pain - Diabetes - Digestive disorders - Eczema - Osteoarthritis - Ulcerative colitis - Shilajit is said to strengthen bones and protect against osteoporosis. Some proponents also claim that shilajit can act as an adaptogen, a class of substances said to boost the body's resistance to stress, boost libido, and increase energy. Possible Side Effects Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular or long-term use of shilajit. However, there's some concern that shilajit may increase the body's production of uric acid and, in turn, exacerbate conditions such as gout. Shilajit may also increase iron levels, so people with conditions such as hemochromatosis (an excess of iron in the blood) should avoid it. Shilajit may alter the body's hormone levels, according to a study published in Andrologia in 2016. For the study, 96 volunteers were randomly divided into two equal groups. One group took a 250 mg capsule of shilajit twice daily after major meals and the other group took a placebo. After 90 days, the shilajit group showed a significant increase in levels of total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S), whereas the placebo group showed no significant increases in these measures. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children shouldn't take shilajit in any form.