Shilajit comes in a range of forms, but its most commonly known form is as a resin. Unpurified Shilajit resin in its raw form is harvested as a solid, rock shaped chunk.
It is high in nutrient density, but caution is needed when sourcing as it can be dangerous to consume when it is in its untreated state.
It is found in high-altitude areas across the world. The Himalayan Mountains provide most of the world’s current supply being harvested.
The surrounding mountain ranges, such as Karakoram, also contain deposits of Shilajit. Other locations it can also be found in include regions in Russia, Mongolia, Tibet, Afghanistan, and in northern Chile.
Shilajit is estimated to have first begun forming in nature over a million years ago. It is really only in recent history that humans have started to harvest this wonder of Nature in awe of the benefits it can provide.
It takes it’s natural shape over a very long time, generally needing a minimum of a century to begin forming.
Over the course of history, many different cultures have come to rely upon Shilajit. These reasons range from treating specific health ailments to improving overall health and quality of life.
In Ayurvedic medicine (also known as Ayurveda), it is a commonly used part in a range of different medical remedies. It often forms the core part of these remedies, ready to be combined with other useful ingredients.
It is through this complimentary approach that the efficacy of other herbs is amplified in the human body.
Discover Shilajit Resin
Table of Contents
1 – The History of Shilajit
2 – What other names is Shilajit known by
3 – What forms does it come in?
4 – Where is Shilajit grown?
5 – How do you purify Shilajit?
6 – How do I know which Shilajit is legit?
The History of Shilajit
The earliest recorded human use of Shilajit ranges from 1000 to 600 BCE, depending on sources. It is only fitting that these records originate from regions near modern-day India, and carry along the length of the Himalaya.
As trade from the West saw commodities such as wool, gold and silver travel to the East on the Silk Road, this resin was progressively introduced westward along with silk, and other rare offerings from the East.
Countries in Europe began to use and recognise the substance for its amazing healing properties. It was only available to the very wealthy in the West and the Middle East, due to its high price.
Sources vary, but indicate that it would sell for its equal weight in gold in some regions! And that still tends to seem pretty close to the truth today.
Other than in texts originating from the subcontinent, there are few key mentions of Shilajit being used around the ancient world. Some of these include:
The ancient book Charaka Samhita (or Caraka Samhita) covers the Ayurvedic medicine of the time. Although debated, it is believed to have been written somewhere between 200 to 100 BCE.
Shilajit is referred to as Silâjatu Rasâyana (शिलाजीत) in this text, where it is regarded as being the source of trusted rejuvenating powers.
Multiple references in this ancient text include the use of Silâjatu Rasâyana with other ingredients such as Silajatu-valaka, Jivaniya ghrla, and cyavanaprasa for a range of aliments, predominantly male fertility.
Thus, the mineral density of Shilajit in supporting organ function has resulted in the highly regarded traditional medicinal properties in Tibetan culture.
Dr. K. M. Nadkarni talks about various types of Shilajit in “The Indian Materia Medica” vol. 2 where is it referred to in Arabic culture as Hajar-Ul-Musa (سلاجیت) and speaks about how this was recorded as being used to treat diseases of the kidneys, intestines, and stomach.
Other examples of historic records indicate that it was used to treat tuberculosis, heart disease, leprosy, and various poisonings from plants and animals.
Dr. Nadkarni advises in this book that Shilajit is able to be tested for purity by burning it with a naked flame. The reaction you can expect to see in this experiment is a higher volume of ash compared to the original sample of the resin.
Lesser quality versions of the resin will hold a flame (like a candle might) and not turn to ash in the same way.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle (470 to 399 BCE) reportedly wrote about Shilajit in Aristotelis Opera. He described how it should be prepared for consumption. His works noted it should be mixed with grape juice, honey, and milk.
Although just rumours and legends, it is believed that certain emperors, kings, and great leaders consumed Shilajit, and that Alexander the Great said that he used to ingest it to increase his stamina, energy levels, and mental fortitude.
In more recent times
Research by numerous sports agencies have yielded interesting results. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition conducted a study over eight weeks on how Shilajit supported enhanced muscle performance.
It is understood that a budget of $6.5 Million was allocated to the National Sport Committee by the Soviet government to study the properties of this substance prior to the Olympic games held in Moscow in 1988.
Today, it is sought out as a health product. As the amazing benefits of Shilajit became more widely known, the production of this product increased.
This meant better technology, more efficient processes, and a cheaper purchase price. The great benefits remain the same but are much more accessible to the average person thanks to innovative production methods.
Take me back up to the Table of Contents.
What other names is Shilajit known by?
Shilajit has a wide variety of names used over the millennia. These names vary depending on region and local languages. Other than what we looked at earlier, some variations can also include:
- Mineral pitch or mineral wax – The English language
- Moomiyo or Momia – The Russian region
- Chao-Tong or Wu Ling Zhi – The Chinese language
- Shargai, barahsjin, dorobi, or baragshun – The Mongolian language
- Baad–a-Ghee – The Afghanistan region
- Mumlai – The Iranian region
While it has many different names, they all refer to the same natural substance found in high is specific mountain ranges.
What forms does it come in?
Shilajit’s completely natural form is as a resin. This resin varies as it is harvested as a solid resin (looking a lot like a rock), but can be processed into a softer more tar-like substance.
The solid unprocessed form is generally harvested as a chunk that tends to look like a piece rock. This chunk is then gently heated up to melt it down into a more fluid form before purification begins. In the unprocessed state it is very possible to break off pieces of Shilajit from the chunk as it is quite brittle in this form.
It can also be processed into a much more fluid liquid form, and even into a powdered form. Although we do not recommend these forms as they are not as close to natural in our opinion.
During the process of making the liquid or powdered form it could reasonably be argued that some of the benefits may be diminished or possibly even completely lost.
When you consider the standard practices for the manufacture of many tablets and capsules, you could reasonably expect to see things other than Shilajit in the product. This is because powdered forms are well known for containing very little actual Shilajit and typically being packed with fillers.
Take me back up to the Table of Contents.
What does Shilajit look like?
Before it is harvested, Shilajit has a dark brown or black colour. It can sometimes also develop shades of red or yellow depending on the location and minerals the source contains.
Once it has been processed to remove impurities the resin is much easier to work with. It takes on a much more flexible form, but is still quite thick. It looks a lot like tar, which many people interpret to be the reason behind why it was considered to be a type of asphalt when scientifically classified in recent history.
It takes the form of a resin or waxy texture and is harvested in solid chunks where possible. Since Shilajit can sometimes form as stalactites inside caves, it can also be harvested in this manner.
Once the Shilajit is processed and purified, it will take on a dark black, tar-like substance. We will elaborate on this process below.
Where is Shilajit grown?
Shilajit is not technically grown, but rather formed. Human interaction cannot speed up the forming process of this substance, as it is formed completely by nature.
A better way to view how it is created is to look at how it is formed. It is a great example of what nature can produce without any human intervention!
To this day, science does not know exactly how Shilajit is formed. There have been a wide range of theories from scientists over the years, but none have been proven to be the exact process.
Theories also vary depending on location due to the slightly different makeup of it from region to region. Some of these theories include:
Breakdown of plants
It is believed that Shilajit is formed through a natural process where plants are broken down by micro-organisms. This process can take many years, often well over a century to be completed. Due to such a long decomposition process, Shilajit is considered to be a millenary product of nature.
Specifically, plants such as Euphorbia royleana and Trifolium repens, among others, are believed to become Shilajit. These plants are the type of vegetation you would expect to grow at a higher altitude.
Euphorbia royleana is a cactus-looking plant, and Trifolium repens is a type of flower in the clover family.
Theories suggest that what happens over time is the natural weather conditions will manipulate the broken down plants. Moisture from a range of forms such as atmospheric pressure, rain, or even melted snow will mix with the broken down plants.
From there, moisture will carry the broken down plants into cracks, crevices and even cavern structures. Eventually, these deposits of moisture and plant matter will evaporate, leaving behind raw Shilajit.
It is a blackish-brown colour and harvested by chipping away chunks at a time. These chunks are then harvested and either sold in its raw form, or purified for sale or use.
Leftover bees and honey
Another theory put forward that Himalayan Shilajit formed as a result of decomposed bees, honey, and venom. The theory was first put forward in 1963.
It was hypothesized that prior to the formation of the Himalayan mountain ranges, current-day Central Asia and India was a mix of islands and ocean.
As tectonic plates moved, eventually the Himalayan Mountains formed to create the mountain range we know today. The theory is that the islands were teeming with life, especially bee populations.
As the islands shifted and merged to make the Himalayan mountain range, these bees became trapped inside mountain ranges.
Due to the change in altitude, change in weather, or even just becoming trapped inside caverns, the bees died off. The belief is that the bees and their hives began to decompose, decaying into Shilajit over millions of years.
Interestingly, Shilajit actually shares a very rare trait with honey. Honey is often believed to be the only natural product which does not decompose. Shilajit also fits into this category, as it naturally does not decompose!
The Diagenesis hypothesis is the stage where sediment has settled but is yet to turn into rock. It is believed that Shilajit is the final product of the combination of uric acid, natural salts, and biostimulants.
The combination of these substances settle into the Earth’s crust, then form Shilajit, and finally, resurface as the Earth’s layers shift.
Take me back up to the Table of Contents.
How do you purify Shilajit?
Purifying Shilajit is a process that has not changed much over the millennia. We still widely use the same processes today as ancient cultures used. However, we have much better technology these days, which helps to improve the quality of the purified Shilajit.
Shilajit in its raw form contains impurities. During the formation process, the mineral deposits will pick contaminants as it settles into the cracks, crevices, and caves. These can include rubble, dirt, and non-broken down plant pieces.
Shilajit that has not been purified is not recommended for consumption due to the risks arising from the impurities.
The raw Shilajit is placed into clean water (spring or distilled water) at a ratio of one part Shilajit to four parts water. As Shilajit is quite a water-soluble substance, impurities will rise to the top and can be removed simply.
Ideally, this process will last for approximately twelve hours. The temperature of the mix should be kept somewhere between 40-50 degrees Celsius (104-122 Fahrenheit). Every two hours, the mix should be stirred for 15 minutes.
The last step of this stage is to use multiple mesh sieves to work out the last of the impurities. Beginning with larger sieves, the mix will enter finer and finer sieves until optimal quality is achieved.
As the moisture from the purifying step is still in the Shilajit mix, it needs to be “dried” out. There are a few ways to complete this drying out process. There is the incorrect way, the ancient method, and the modern way.
The incorrect way
The incorrect way is to boil down the Shilajit. This will create water vapor, leaving behind the tar-like Shilajit resin we know of as consumers.
The issue with this method is that it can also damage the resin, resulting in an inferior quality product. This results in poorer taste, less vital minerals, and reduces nutrient density.
If you are looking for quality resin, then you need to ensure it hasn’t been dried out using this method.
The ancient method
The ancient method is quite interesting as it requires a bit of an advanced process. A glass pane would be placed at an angle on top of a container with the Shilajit mix beneath.
One side of the container would have perforations to allow air in and out. The glass pane would heat up from the sun, and further heat the inside of the container. The water vapor evaporated from the mix would exit through the perforations, leaving tar-like resin behind.
The ancient method is not commonly used any more due to the time and labour required. It is more cost-efficient to either boil down the Shilajit or to use the modern way.
The modern way
The modern way uses technology to produce superior quality Shilajit. While it’s not “naturally produced” in a sense, it does create the purest quality product available in today’s times.
A factory with vacuum-evaporator capable machinery is required. It will take the raw Shilajit mix and evaporate out roughly 50% of the moisture content.
At this stage, the Shilajit can be bottled and sold as a liquid version. Alternatively, moisture content can be further lowered to produce soft resin.
The moisture content is further reduced through ovens. After the moisture is removed, the Shilajit resin can be packaged, or ground up and filtered into a powder.
Some producers are even experimenting with freeze-drying the resin before turning it into a powder. It seems to be a better method of producing Shilajit powder, as fewer nutrients are lost compared to heating the Shilajit.
Take me back up to the Table of Contents.
How do I know which Shilajit resin is legit?
Shilajit is rare in nature, meaning the supply is actually quite low due to its difficulty in sourcing. Of course, over time this has attracted many to produce fake Shilajit.
Thankfully, determining whether the Shilajit is real or fake is quite easy to test out. There are a few methods to use to determine the authenticity of your Shilajit:
- Solubility – The Shilajit will dissolve in warm water/milk
- Pliability – Authentic Shilajit will melt in your hands with heat, and become hard if placed in the fridge. When cold, it can be broken with force and will shatter in the same manner as glass.
- Fire – Shilajit will not catch on fire. It will not burn. Instead, it will bubble and produce ash that will exude from the sample. Don’t consume this test piece after however, as it will have very little mineral content, and it will taste like ash!