7 Benefits of Shilajit for Men’s Health, Kidney Function, Blood Sugar, & More

Published on March 12, 2024

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

Shilajit is a nutrient-dense substance used in the Ayurvedic tradition for millennia, but it’s not an herb or a plant.

Translated from Sanskrit, Shilajit means “Conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness.”REF#3747

Technically considered an “herbomineral” in Ayurveda (the traditional wellness practice of India), Shilajit’s long history of traditional use has inspired researchers to investigate its possible mechanisms, functions, and health benefits.

This article will discuss what Shilajit is, its origins and traditional uses, how it may work, its modern benefit potential, and side effects.

What is Shilajit?

Traditional wellness systems have always relied on herbs and plants to support various aspects of health.

However, they have also relied on substances beyond the plant kingdom. 

Shilajit, a blackish-brown tar-like material that exudes from high-altitude mountain rocks such as the Himalayas in the warmer months, is one of them. 

There are many hypotheses about how Shilajit is formed. 

The most popular one is that it’s made from the decomposition of plant material by Euphorbia royleana (Sullu Spurge) and Trifolium repens (white clover) over centuries at high elevations.

However, its exact origins remain somewhat mysterious.

Historical and Traditional Uses of Shilajit

In Ayurvedic tradition (the traditional wellness practice of India), Shilajit falls under the Sanskrit classification of Rasayana. 

Rasayanas are herbs and other health-supportive substances used to “improve the quality of ‘Rasa’ (plasma) and thus strengthen or promote the health of all tissues of the body.” REF#3748

The “Rasa” refers to the plasma, or non-cellular portion of the blood consisting of the lymph and interstitial fluids.

In other words, Rasayanas are adaptogenic (stress-supportive) tonic-like substances that promote various aspects of health and well-being.

Other Examples of Rasayanas in Ayurveda Include:REF#3749

Since Shilajit was originally found in the Himalayas, the people of Nepal and Northern India consume it regularly. 

The Sherpa people of the region, who have the reputation of being strong and long-living, coincidentally regularly consume Shilajit as a part of their diet.

Other Common Uses of Shilajit in Ayurveda Include:REF#3750 REF#3751

  • General tonic/physical strengthener
  • Support urinary function
  • Support kidney function
  • Promote digestive health
  • Nervous system support
  • Promote normal lung function
  • Nourish the blood
  • For immune support

It is also used as a yogavaha, a synergistic enhancer of other Ayurvedic herbs in multicomponent formulas.

How Shilajit May Benefit Women & Men

Scientific analyses have revealed many active compounds in Shilajit that give evidence of how it may work.

According to studies, the primary metabolites attributed to its traditional uses and potential benefits are:REF#3752

  • Humic substances, particularly Fulvic Acid, ranging between 60% to 80% of the total nutrient profile. Fulvic Acid is a component of humus in the soil. It has become a popular supplement due to its naturally occurring trace minerals and other nutrients.
  • Selenium
  • Eldagic acid
  • Fatty acids
  • Resins, latex, gums
  • Albumins 
  • Triterpenes
  • Sterols
  • Aromatic carboxylic acids
  • 3,4-benzocoumarins
  • Amino acids
  • Polyphenols and Phenolic lipids

The body of evidence suggests fulvic acid (accounting for 60% to 80 % of all nutrient compounds) being primary, but this and other compounds act in different ways. Many preclinical investigations suggest various potential uses for Shilajit, but further investigation is needed.

Research suggests Shilajit may benefit:REF#3753

  • Digestion
  • Cognition and memory
  • Emotional well-being
  • Blood sugar balance
  • Histamine response
  • Minor pain and inflammation
  • Altitude sickness

We discuss a few of these in more detail below.

7 Benefits of Shilajit

As you’ve just learned, Shilajit is an ancient Ayurvedic Rasayana traditionally used for many purposes.

Since fulvic acid is the primary compound in Shilajit, much of the research focuses on this compound.

Here, we’ll look deeper into the scientific studies surrounding this unique herbomineral.

1: Shilajit May Promote Cognitive Function

One of the Shilajit’s traditional uses is to support graceful and healthy aging of body and mind.

Emerging research suggests this use may be valid. 

A 2011 study showed that fulvic acid may play a role in preventing the tangles of specific proteins that relate to neurological function.REF#3754

As previously mentioned, Shilajit’s total nutrient compounds comprise anywhere from 60 to 80% fulvic acid, making this component a center of interest for the scientific community.

2: Shilajit May Benefit Men’s Hormones & Sperm Count

Shilajit was traditionally used to support energy and vitality in men. For this reason, it is still sought as a men’s health supplement.

Some high-quality research suggests it may support hormone function in men when taken at a dose of 250 mg twice a day for 90 consecutive days.

Researchers noted it may benefit total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) compared with placebo.REF#3755

Additional research suggests Shilajit may support sexual performance and sperm count.REF#3756

The results of these studies are promising, but more research is needed.

3: Shilajit May Support Digestive Function

Shilajit has long been used as a digestive tonic.

Although human studies are lacking, research done on rats suggests two primary naturally occurring compounds extracted from Shilajit, fulvic acid (FA) and 4′‐methoxy‐6‐carbomethoxybiphenyl (MCB, 1), may have a protective and strengthening effect on the gastrointestinal tract.REF#3757

Another study conducted on fish found fulvic acid may support normal production of digestive enzymes like lysozyme, proteases, and acid/alkaline phosphatase.REF#3758

The naturally occurring probiotics and prebiotics in Shilajit, coupled with the known ability of Fulvic Acid to improve soil nutrient composition, suggest it may play a role in supporting the gut microbiome and nutrient absorption.REF#3759

More research is needed to make a recommendation.

4: Shilajit May Support Normal Histamine and Mast Cell Response

Shilajit was traditionally used in Ayurveda to support normal histamine response, which affects how we respond to various substances and situations, such as pollens, foods, or insect bites.

Animal research suggests Shilajit may support normal histamine response by providing protection from antigen-induced spasms and supporting normal mast cell function.REF#3760

This is not a high-powered study, and more research is needed. However, the authors note it’s a first step in understanding why Shilajit was used in this way in traditional Ayurveda.

5: Shilajit May Support Kidney and Urinary Function

Shilajit has been used as a urinary and kidney tonic for centuries.

There is some evidence to support these traditional uses, as studies have shown Shilajit has a diuretic action, possibly due to the presence of fulvic & humic acid, which can benefit urinary and kidney function.REF#3761

More research is needed to make a recommendation.

6: Shilajit May Support Normal Blood Sugar and Pancreatic Function

Blood sugar is related to various aspects of human health, including metabolic function, heart and cardiovascular function, energy, hormonal balance, circadian rhythm, cognitive function, and more.

As a Rasayana, Shilajit was used traditionally to support various aspects of metabolic function, including optimal blood sugar. 

Although the research on how Shilajit may promote normal blood sugar is in its infancy, an animal study showed it was effective in helping maintain normal blood sugar and pancreatic function via its supportive effects on Superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels in pancreatic cells. SOD levels are important as they provide a protective effect to pancreatic ß-cells.REF#3762

More research is needed to know if and how Shilajit may support blood sugar, metabolic, and pancreatic function in humans.

7. Shilajit May Help with High Altitude Sensitivity

Altitude sensitivity rarely crosses the mind until you’ve experienced it.

This phenomenon occurs when an individual rapidly changes altitude, going to a higher place with a lower oxygen environment.

In modern times, it’s most common when people fly to a mountainous region or hike a tall mountain without stopping to adjust to the thinner air.

Altitude sensitivity can result in hypoxia, headaches, lethargy, tiredness, insomnia, loss of appetite, breathlessness, or depressive symptoms.REF#3763 Fortunately, it’s typically short-lived, and symptoms diminish as the body adjusts.

However, it’s still an unpleasant and even debilitating experience.

Many traditional herbs are used to reduce altitude sensitivity in folklore, the most well-known being coco leaves in South America and Ginger to reduce nausea.

The Sherpa of the Himalayas live at high elevations and consume Shilajit regularly. This and its traditional use for altitude sensitivity sparked interest from the scientific community.

A paper entitled: “Shilajit: A Panacea for High-Altitude Problems,” published by the International Journal of Ayurveda Research, investigated the many ways Shilajit may be helpful for altitude sensitivity. 

It details and suggests Shilajit may be helpful for these symptoms:REF#3764

  • Hypoxia and muscular weakness
  • Acute Mountain Sickness
  • Lung discomfort
  • Digestive function
  • Dehydration
  • Acclimatization 
  • Immune support

Further research is necessary to corroborate the findings and opinions in this paper.

Side Effects & Possible Contraindications of Shilajit

Shilajit has been used for millennia and is generally considered safe, with no significant side effects reported in clinical studies.

Shilajit was first found and used from the mountains of the Himalayas, but it's not unique to this region.

It can be found in different regions, including Russia, Tibet, Afghanistan, and now in the Andes mountains of northern Chile, named Andean Shilajit.REF#3765

It is worth being aware that Shilajit from different regions may have a different combination of active compounds and nutrients.

In clinical trials, Shilajit dosing ranges from 200 to 6800 mg daily, although a common recommendation for maintenance is 300-500 mg/day.

Interested in Trying Shilajit?

Shilajit is available as a supplement from Ayurvedic supplement companies, a stand-alone product, and within multi-herbal formulas.

In Ayurveda, it is typically recommended supplements be taken as a powder. 

However, Shilajit’s consistency is such that it is often available (and more palatable) as a tablet or capsule.

You can also find various fulvic acid supplements, which are usually in liquid form.

Shilajit’s reputation as a Rasayana has increased its popularity, leading to issues with ethical harvesting.

For this reason, you should look for an ethically and sustainably harvested Shilajit.


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