Introduction to Shilajit
Shilajit is a truly remarkable substance with a long history of human usage for healing. It exudes from layers of rocks in many mountain ranges of the world, especially the Himalayas and Hindukush ranges of the Indian subcontinent.
Analysis has shown it to consist of a complex mixture of organic humic substances and plant and microbial metabolites occurring in the rock rhizospheres of its natural habitat.
The biological effects of shilajit (also known as silajit, shilajeet, silajatu, mumiyo and asphaltum) have been ascribed to two distinct classes of compounds. The low molecular weight bioactive organic compounds, such as oxygenated dibenzo-α-pyrones, act as the active substances, and medium molecular weight fulvic and humic acids act as carrier molecules for in vivo transportation of these bioactive molecules (Agarwal, Aqil, & Anwer, 2007; Agarwal, Khanna, Karmarkar, Anwer, & Khar, 2007).
Fulvic acid (FA) and humic acid have a microporous structure. FA and humic acid are thus capable of forming complexes with nonpolar solutes and drug molecules with low bioavailability (Agarwal, Khanna, Karmarkar, Anwer, & Khar, in press). These drug molecules can be entrapped in the void so as to increase their solubility and dissolution rate, thereby enhancing their bioavailability (Ghosal, 2003; Khanna, 2006).
Traditional Uses of Shilajit
Pure Shilajit as a Panacea
The Caraka Samhita discusses shilajit in a chapter on rejuvenation therapy (rasayana). It has been proposed that the modern equivalent of a rasayana is an adaptogenic substance. (Ghosal 1998).
The Caraka Samhita states that there is no curable disease in the universe, which is not effectively cured by shilajit when it is administered at the appropriate time, in combination with suitable drugs and by adopting the prescribed method. When administered to a healthy person, with similar conditions it produces immense energy. In the Sushruta Samhita, it is noted that there is no bodily distemper, which does not yield to shilajit’s highly curative virtues. When gradually taken, (in adequate doses) it tends to improve the strength and complexion of the body. (Bhishagratna 1998). This echoed in the Astanga Hrdayam which also states that it is the best rejuvenator (Murthy 2001).
Shilajit for Increasing Longevity
The Caraka states that it enables the user to witness a hundred summers on earth, free from disease and decay. Each tulä weight (7.75 lbs. or 3.5 kilos) of shilajit taken successively, adds a century to the duration of the human life, while ten tulä weight (77.5 lbs. or 35 kilos) measures extend it to a thousand years (Sharma 2000). Additional quantities are said to extend lifetime in increments of a century up to one thousand years. (Bhishagratna 1998).
Shilajit Research Papers
There is a wealth of scientific evidence available for the efficacy of Shilajit:
Acharya SB, Frotan MH, Goel RK, Tripathi SK, Das PK. Pharmacological actions of Shilajit. Indian J Exp Biol. 1988 Oct; 26(10): 775-7.
Agarwal, S.P., Khanna, R., Karmarkar, R., Anwer, M.K., Khar, R.K., 2007. Shilajit: a review. Phytotherapy Research 21, 401–405.
Agarwal, S.P., Anwer, M.K., Aqil, M., 2008a. Complexation of furosemide with fulvic acid extracted from Shilajit: a novel approach. Drug Development and Industrial Pharmacy 34, 506–511.
Agarwal, S.P., Khanna, R., Karmarkar, R., Anwer, M.K., Khar, R.K., 2008b.
Physico-chemical, spectral and thermal characterization of Shilajit, a humic substance with medicinal properties. Asian Journal of Chemistry 20, 209–217.
Bhishagratna KK. Susruta Samhita Vol 2, Chapter XIII. Varanasi, India: Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varansi-1, 1998.
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Dittmar, T., Koch, B.P., Hertkorn, N., Kattner, G., 2008. A simple and efficient method for the solid-phase extraction of dissolved organic matter (SPE-DOM) from seawater. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 6, 230–235.
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Frotan, M.H., and Acharya, S.B. Pharmacological studies of shilajit. Indian Journal of Pharmacolgy 1984 16,45.
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Ghosal S, Lal J, Singh SK, Goel RK, Jaiswal AK, Bhattacharya SK. The need for formulation of Shilajit by its isolated active constituents. Phytotherapy Res 1991; 5: 211-6.
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Ghosal, S., 1992. Shilalit: its origin and significance. Indian Journal of
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Ghosal S, Singh SK, Kumar Y, Srivatsava R. Antiulcerogenic activity of fulvic acids and 4-metoxy-6-carbomethyl biphenyl isolated from shilajit. Phytother Res. 1988;2:187-91.
Ghosal, S., 1993. Shilajit: Its origin and vital significance. In: Mukherjee, B. (Ed.), Traditional Medicine. Oxford – IBH, New Delhi, pp. 308–319.
Ghosal, S., Reddy, J.P., Lal, V.K., 1976. Shilajit I: chemical constituents. Journal of Pharmaceutical Science 65, 772–773.
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