Shilajit is a herbomineral drug which is pale-brown to blackish brown found in the Himalayan rocks during summer. It is neither harvested from plants nor found in animals. This is a mineral wax which is exudated from rocks in the form of resin-like semisolid secretion, which is a result of the sunlight melting the layers of the mountains due to excess heat in high altitude.
‘Shilajit’ is a Sanskrit term which means ‘conqueror of mountains’ and ‘destroyer of weakness’. Charaka Samhita describes this as ‘Stones of metal like gold’. Shilajit is found in the lower range of Himalaya (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir) with an altitude between 1000 to 5000 meters from the sea-level. It is also found in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other names of Shilajit are Silajatu, Shilasweda, Asmaja, Moomiyo, Moomie, Adrija, Shiladhatuja, Shilamaya, Memiya, Girija and Gaireya.
Shilajit exudates from four types of mountain rocks – Suvarna Shilajit (rocks containing gold), Rajat Shilajit (rocks containing silver), Tamra Shilajit (rocks containing copper) and Loha Shilajit (rocks containing iron).
According to historical evidences, millions of years ago, Himalayan range was formed by the huge collision between Indian subcontinent with the Asian subcontinent, which crushed the tropical forests in between the massive boulders. With time, these crushed substances turned into tar like smooth and gummy mineral pitch out of compression. In summer, cracks get generated on the surface of the mountains due to excessive heat in high altitudes, and these blackish or brownish mineral pitch oozes out and settles itself on the rock, which is known as ‘Shilajit’ or ‘Shilaras’ in Ayurvedic terms.
Bio-components present in Shilajit
This herbomineral medicine is composed of 60-80% organic plant materials and humus which is bitter in taste and smells like cow’s urine, 20-40% mineral matter and 5% of trace elements.
Shilajit contains components like humic acid, uronic acids, benzoic acid, hippuric acid, some lipids, amino acids, phenolic glucosides and fulvic acid. In addition to that, it also contains 84 minerals including iron, zinc, copper, silver, manganese, silica, phosphorus and lead. Fulvic acid works as carrier molecule in human body in transporting the nutrients in all parts of the body and aids fine absorption of the nutrients into deep tissues, also helps in removing deep rooted toxins in the body. Shilajit mainly works as an energy enhancer by recovering the degradation of muscles and bones and nervous system.
Ayurvedic properties of Shilajit
Rasa: Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (Astringent)
Guna: Laghu (light) and Rukhsha (dry)
Virya: Shital (Cooling)
Vipaka: Katu (pungent)
A Panacea for mountain sickness
Major common issues associated with high altitude is mountain sickness with symptoms like nausea, breathlessness, dry nose, palpitation, dizziness, tiredness, dyspnoea, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal problems and edema. Scientific research has shown that Shilajit is extremely beneficial in treating Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema and Pain (HAPE) is another critical problem at high altitudes where person starts having chest pain, shortness of breath and cyanosis due to oxygen deficiency. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of Shilajit help to reduce these conditions.
Also, Shilajit works wonder in treating High-Altitude Cerebral Edema and Dementia (HACE) which develops due to swelling of brain tissues due to low atmospheric pressure. It usually occurs when one spends more than a week at high altitudes. Shilajit plays a potential role in effective treatment of other mountain sickness like dementia and hypoxia which occur due to intense solar radiation, high wind velocity, high fluctuation of day and night temperatures, severe cold and low atmospheric pressure.
Shilajit promotes energy production in the human body by improving the absorptive and detoxifying agents of the body which stimulates blood formation and strengthens immune system. The recommended dosage of Shilajit is 300-500 milligram per day. It enhances the therapeutic effects when consumed with milk twice a day. It reaches maximum level in the blood after 12 hours of consumption.
Other benefits of Shilajit
The active hypoglycaemic property of Shilajit helps in managing blood glucose level and regulates lipid profile to maintain healthy blood sugar range in the blood. When taken along with diabetic medications, Shilajit formulations work effectively by governing the process of starch breakdown into glucose in the blood.
The bio-active component named dibenzo-alpha-pyrones helps in enhancing memory, building alertness, improving focus and concentration and brings calmness. Research shows Shilajit is very useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
The powerful anti-inflammatory and purgative properties of this herbomineral drug helps in preventing the growth of the bacteria named Helicobacter in the gut. It saves the intestinal fluid from getting drying up in the colon and curbs abdominal pain and accumulation of gas. It actively prevents constipation and piles by clearing the intestinal tract.
Shilajit is beneficial in relaxing and strengthening the heart muscles, preventing heart blocks, blood clots and bad cholesterol with its antioxidant properties. It soothes the cardiac system, thus averts the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack.
The antidepressant and adaptogenic properties of this mineral pitch, it helps to balance vata and pitta doshas in the body, which in turn, helps to reduce mental stress, irritation, restlessness, palpitation, dementia and depression. This ayurvedic drug helps to elevate oxygen levels in the blood to increase energy and calms the nervous system which is necessary in case of mental ailments.
Shilajit has been found to be very effective in treating joint pain and inflammations in the body due to its powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, gout and osteoarthritis.
Treatment of ulcer
As per scientific study, Shilajit increases the protein and carbohydrate ratio and decreases the index of gastric ulcer. The bio-active components like fulvic acid, 4-methoxy 6-carbomethoxybiphenyl in Shilajit helps in decreasing the acid-pepsin secretion, shedding of cells and works as ulcer protective agent. It promotes regeneration of tissues and prevents peptic ulcer, ulcerative colitis, mouth ulcers etc.
Shilajit has been used as a traditional medicine to stimulate production of testosterone which helps in increasing fertility and libido in men. It plays an active role in boosting virility in men.
Apart of from these, Shilajit is highly effective in improving immune system due to its high apoptogenic and anti-allergic properties. According to Ashtanga Hridayam, Shilajit is known to be the best rejuvenator among all other Ayurvedic drugs. This mineral pitch is also useful in treating AIDS, jaundice, thyroid disorders, high fever, urinary disorder, sexual disorders, preventing tumour growth and parasitic infections due to its potent antiseptic, lithotripsic, anodyne and anti-asthmatic properties. Shilajit is being used as an excellent Ayurvedic wonder in traditional medicines for centuries in treatment of almost all human ailments.
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