English: Bitumin, Mineral Pitch
Sanskrit: Silajit / Shilajatu
Hindi: Silajit / Shilajeet / Shilijit
WHAT IT DOES: Shilajatu is bitter and slightly pungent in taste, and mildly warming in action. Shilajatu is a rasayana (longevity) tonic that strengthens immunity; reduces fatigue; slows aging; tonifies the brain; cleanses the blood; improves blood sugar regulation: and strengthens the liver and kidneys.
SAFETY ISSUES: None known. Must be purified before use.
• Purified sediment: combined with 50% triphala, use one to two grams twice per day
Shilajatu is a secretion gathered off Himalayan mountain faces. In the heat of summer it can be found on the southern slopes. It is a black, gummy substance that hardens easily into a solid rock-like mass. It is a complex but completely natural mixture of minerals with organic and inorganic compounds, and is one of the most important rasayana tonics in Ayurveda.
Shilajatu contains aluminum, antimony, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, lithium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, silica, sodium, strontium, zinc, fatty acids, hippuric acid, benzoic acid, fulvic acid, chebulic acid, tannic acid, resin and waxy matter, gums, albuminoids, glycosides and an ichthyol oil (Tiwari et al., 1973). The gathered substance must be purified before use. It is mixed with water and filtered, then slowly evaporated in the sun. Then, the sediment is again mixed with water, filtered and evaporated. This process is repeated a total of seven times. It is then often combined with other herbs, most frequently with triphala (three-fruit compound).
When I was in Nepal, Dr. Mana, my Ayurvedic teacher, had a patient on the examining table, and he showed that glycogen stores in the liver were decreased in certain diseases, such as poor digestion, dysentery or hypoglycemia. Shilajatu (Shilijit) was, he said, very good for restoring glycogen, to the point you could actually feel a greater fullness when palpating the liver.
Shilajatu can be used with benefit for long periods of time, and is a true tonic. It increases the potency of other herbs. Ayurvedic doctors use it to strengthen immunity and cleanse the blood, noting that it benefits the liver and kidneys, our two most important blood-filtering organs. They use it to treat diabetes, anemia, aging, bronchitis, skin diseases, acne and boils, liver diseases, constipation, dyspepsia, allergies, fatigue, cancer and all urinary diseases. It also speeds wound healing. It is the first treatment given to people suffering from kidney failure and various chronic nerve diseases. The native peoples of the northern regions of Russia and Afghanistan collect and use a similar rock secretion (mumiyo) from their mountains.
• The Indian Central Council for Research on Ayurveda and Siddha cited a series of experiments showing significant anti-inflammatory activity as well as cardiotonic action (Pandley et al., eds, 1996, Frotan & Acharya, 1984).
•Laboratory experiments have shown that shilajatu is anti-ulcerogenic, stabilizes mast cells, and has protective effects on the liver and pancreas (Tiwari et al., 1973; Ghosal et al., 1989; Acharya, 1988; Vaishwanar et al., 1976; Mitra et al., 1996).
• A clinical study done in Russia on 38 patients with swollen prostrate (BPH) showed a reduction in subjective and objective symptoms (reported by Sodhi, 2000).