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  • All About Shilajit: What It Is, Where It’s Found, What It Looks Like, Types of Shilajit, Pure Shilajit, How To Take Shilajit

    All About Shilajit: What It Is, Where It’s Found, What It Looks Like, Types of Shilajit, Pure Shilajit, How To Take Shilajit

    The word Shilajit is composed of two parts. “Shila” means rock and ”jit” means having won. So it literally means ‘conqueror of the mountains’. It is a blackish-brown material of variable consistency that exudes from layers of rocks. It surfaces in the summer season emerging through cracks or cervices in the rocks, as if it has ‘conquered the rocks’ and has torn them apart.

    Some Ayurvedic practitioners attribute this name to its believed property of disintegrating urinary stones if taken internally. It is now clear through research that it is not a mineral pitch but a humic substance formed due to the interaction of plants, algae, mosses, and microorganisms that may contain minerals. It is found to be a rich source of humic acid and fulvic acid which are the main substances of interest to researchers for its therapeutic effects. Shilajit is believed to slow the aging process and rejuvenate the body and mind.

    Read about the benefits of Shilajit.

    Where Shilajit Is Found

    Shilajit (Asphaltum punjabianum) is found in many mountain ranges of the world, at altitudes between 1000-5000 meters, namely in the Himalayas and Hindukush ranges of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibet mountains, Altai mountains and Caucasus mountains.

    What Shilajit Looks Like

    Shilajit’s consistency depends upon its maturity and exposure to alternating heat and cold. It ranges from being a rock-like brittle substance and free flowing to viscous like a resin. Its color range varies from a yellowish brown to pitch-black, depending on the composition. Depending upon its color and properties, Ayurveda classifies it into four types.

    1. ‘Swarna’ Shilajit of yellowish red color
    2. Rajat Shilajit of whitish silver color
    3. Tamra Shilajit of peacock blue color
    4. Lauha Shilajit of black color

    Of all four types, black shilajit is most often found and is considered the best. It is to be used only after it has undergone traditional purification methods.

    Read about the benefits of Shilajit.

    Pure Shilajit: How It’s Purified

    Since it’s a humic material it is bound to be contaminated with soil, rock particles and plant debris at the time of collection. So it needs to be purified before consumption. Classically it is purified through a time consuming method which yields pure shilajit. Pure shilajit is known as Surya Tapi Shilajit. Surya Tapi means ‘that which is subjected to sun rays’.

    In this method the rock particles, soil and other impurities are first removed through sedimentation by dissolving it in hot water and letting the the solids settle at the bottom. The humic component is dissolved in the water, which is then decanted and sieved into an iron vessel and kept under the sun. This way a creamy layer of material gathers on the surface and is then separated out. Again the remaining solution is decanted into another vessel and kept under the sun to collect the next batch of supernatant material. This process is repeated until it yields the creamy material that emerges on the surface.

    This material that is painstakingly collected is the purest form. The texts clearly say that boiling the solution to get the supernatant material faster may destroy the ingredients of Shilajit and degrade its quality and is thus contraindicated.

    Classical Methods To Check The Purity Of Shilajit

    Today there are labs which can check and standardize the different compositions from batch to batch. It is often found through research though that the chemical composition of shilajit collected from different mountain ranges yields certain similar low molecular weight organic compounds. The exact composition depends on the flora found in and around the Shilajit bearing mountain ranges.1  The composition of the beneficial humic material that Shilajit is will depend on that. However, the presence of humic acid and fulvic acid among other bio-molecules is a common finding and can be standardized.

    Classically there are certain methods described in Ayurvedic literature to check the purity.

    1. A little pure Shilajit, if put on a charcoal ember, takes the shape of a linga or an elongated oval shape.
    2. Pure shilajit will not smoke if put on a charcoal ember.
    3. A grain of shilajit if put in water will disintegrate completely and settle down at bottom.
    4. Pure Shilajit has a peculiar smell similar to cow’s urine. It is resin-like or can be hard but softens if a small portion is rubbed between the finger tips. It is light weight and smooth to touch.

    Read about the benefits of Shilajit.

    Properties of Shilajit

    According to the Ayurvedic materia medica, Shilajit has the following properties.

    Taste: Not very sour, bitter, astringent taste
    Effect after being metabolized: Bitter
    Property: Neither too hot, nor too cold
    Dosha effect: It can pacify all three dosha
    Overall effect: If administered with proper procedure, it produces rejuvenating and aphrodisiac effects and helps in many  disorders.

    Its potency increases after undergoing ‘bhawna’, an Ayurvedic process of preparing herbal medication with a specified or specified liquids. 

    Who should take Shilajit

    Shilajit can be taken by both men and women at any age. For children it is not generally required, but there is no contraindication for using it provided the dose is adjusted as per the age on the advice of an Ayurvedic practitioner or health care provider.

    Shilajit Dosage + How to take Shilajit

    It is more beneficial to take Shilajit after Panchakarma or Ayurvedic detox. However it may be taken as is also. It is best taken after sunrise with milk or honey. Another way of taking it is to dissolve it in warm water and drink. It is useful to have milk and rice, or barley bread or any other barley dish a few hours after taking it.

    Today shilajit dosage is about 125 mg to 500 mg. This is the size of a green moong bean up to the size of a pea, which is much lesser than that prescribed in classical texts. But this dose is practical and effective. In disorders like diabetes the recommended shilajit dosage is about 1 gm taken in divided doses.

    Things to avoid while taking shilajit.

    • Heavy to digest food
    • Too sour, spicy or Pitta aggravating foods in general
    • Horse gram lentil

    Things which can be taken along with shilajit as a “vehicle” or carrier.

    • Milk
    • Buttermilk
    • Meat soup
    • Vegetable or lentil soup
    • Water
    • Cow’s urine
    • Decoction of different types of herbs as per the need


    1 Pure & Appl. Chern., Vol. 62, No. 7, pp. 1285-1288, 1990. Printed in Great Britain. @ 1990 IUPAC Chemistry of shilajit, an immunomodulatory Ayurvedic rasayan By Shibnath Ghosal Department of Pharmaceutics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi-5, India


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