Shilajit

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Shilajit, also called mineral pitch, is the result of a long process of breaking down plant matter and minerals. It is a sticky, black, tar-like substance that comes from rocks in high mountain ranges.

Shilajeet is a thick, sticky tar-like substance with a colour ranging from white to dark brown (the latter is more common), found predominantly in Himalaya, Karakuram, Tibet mountains, Caucasus mountains, Altai Mountains, and mountains of Gilgit Baltistan.

It is used in Ayurveda and Unani, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acids and fulvic acid.

Overview

What is Shilajit?

Known for thousands of years as a rejuvenator of the whole body, shilajit has garnered a fairly significant body of research for its impact on various body systems.

Shilajit is a sticky substance found primarily in the rocks of the Himalayas. It develops over centuries from the slow decomposition of plants.

Shilajit is commonly used in ayurvedic medicine. It’s an effective and safe supplement that can have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being. [R]

Shilajit was traditionally sourced in India and Tibet, though it is now found in many other countries.

Shilajit has been used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and the compounds in it appear to be beneficial for many conditions. In this article, learn about the benefits and possible side effects of this naturally-occurring substance.

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Benefits and Effects

Prevents and Slows Alzheimer’s Progression

The primary component of shilajit is an antioxidant known as fulvic acid. This powerful antioxidant contributes to cognitive health by preventing the accumulation of tau protein. Tau proteins are an important part of your nervous system, but a buildup can trigger brain cell damage.

Researchers think that the fulvic acid in shilajit may stop the abnormal buildup of tau protein and reduce inflammation, potentially improving Alzheimer’s symptoms. However, more research and clinical trials are needed.

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Enhances Cognitive Function

The numerous compounds found in shilajit may be helpful for brain function, and may even aid Alzheimer's therapy.

A study in the International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease noted that shilajit is traditionally used for longevity and to slow aging. The compounds in it may help control cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer's.

Researchers expect shilajit to have an impact in preventing cognitive disorders, but more research is needed to explore these possibilities.

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Where Do Shilajit's Benefits Come From?

Shilajit is a sticky, tar-like substance often appearing dark brown in color, which is highly regarded as a rejuvenating substance in Ayurveda. It is found primarily at high altitudes in the Himalayan and Tibetan mountain ranges, but has also been found in Russian and Chilean mountain ranges (Carrasco-Gallardo et al., 2012). During warm summer months, the intense heat of the sun causes shilajit to become soft, which makes it appear as if it is oozing out of rocks. However, the true origin of shilajit remains somewhat of a mystery even after decades of research. The primary theory is that shilajit is the humification product of various latex producing plants, mosses, and liverworts. This theory would explain why shilajit has such a complex chemical makeup that is similar to other humic substances such as peat. Shilajit contains over 85 individual components consisting of a mixture of minerals, humic acids, and amino acids that can potentially provide benefits to your physical and cognitive function. In order to simplify things a bit, we will only talk about the main components of shilajit which appear to have the highest biological activity. These are dibenzo-α-pyrone Chromaproteins (DBPs) and fulvic acids (FA) with DBP cores.

Fulvic acid (FA) is one of the main components of shilajit. It is a humic acid created as a result of millions of microbes breaking down decaying plant matter during a process called humification. Fulvic acid is a very complex molecule and contains a variety of functional groups, including carboxylic groups; this appears to allow Fulvic Acid to easily complex with cationic substances (Schepetkin et al., 2009). Fulvic Acid's complexing ability potentially explains quite a lot of shilajit's benefits. To begin with, fulvic acid demonstrates excellent bioavailability and blood brain barrier (BBB) permeation; this allows it to act as a very effective delivery mechanism for the compounds it complexes with (Mirza et al., 2011). In the case of shilajit derived fulvic acid, it appears to complex readily with DBPs, thus it acts as a delivery mechanism for them to various parts of the body including the brain. Furthermore, the carboxylic groups in Fulvic Acid appear to strongly support the complement immune system. This system is composed of various precursor zymogens, which circulate throughout our body and are completely inactive. However our innate and adaptive immune system can activate these precursor zymogens.

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