Shilajit is one of the most widely used medicines in Ayurveda due to its broad spectrum uses. Shilajit literally means ’sweat of rocks’ in Sanskrit, it is a mineral pitch which oozes out from the rocks of Himalayas. Shilajit is one of the very important drugs of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine which is extensively used until today. It is a wonderful medicine which alone cures many diseases. Shilajit is considered one of the wonder medicines of Ayurveda. Neither a plant nor animal substance, it is a mineral pitch that oozes from the rocks of the Himalayas, as they become warm in the summer months.Shilajit carries the healing power of these great mountains. Shilajit is an important drug of the ancient Hindu material medica and is to this day used extensively by the Ayurvedic physicians for a variety of diseases. Early Ayurvedic writings from the Caraka Samhita and Susruta Samhita describe Shilajit as a cure for all disease as well as a Rasayana (rejuvenative) able to increasing longevity from 100 to 1000 years of age.
Shilajit is a blackish-brown exudation, of variable consistency, obtained from steep rocks of different formations found in the Himalayas at altitudes between 1000 to 5000 meter, from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Kashmir in the West. It is also found in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, China, Tibet and U.S.S.R (Tien-Shan, Ural and Caucasus).
Some Himalayan tribal villagers, who were observing white monkeys migrating to the higher mountains in summer months, made the discovery of shilajit. The monkeys were observed to lick the semi-solid substance exuding out the rock crevices. Since observing the animal behaviors were an important part of healthcare research in ancient times, those villagers attributed the great strength, longevity and wisdom of those monkeys to this substance. Curious by the thought, they themselves started taking the substance and reported a broad spectrum of improvement in their health and stamina. It gave them more energy, relieve digestive problems, increase sex drive, improve to memory etc., with the passage of the time traditional health practitioners established the methods to purify the substance.
Until 1991 it was believed that shilajit contains only mineral contents oozed out from rocks of Himalaya. Researches conducted in 1991 showed that it contains humus and organic plant material that has been compressed by layers of rock mixed with microbial metabolites. This research proved the actual potency of shilajit. Ancient Indian medical scholar Sushruta stated that “A gelatinous substance is secreted from the side of the mountains when they are heated by the rays of the sun in the months of Jyaishta and Ashadha (May and June). This substance is what is known as Çilájatu and it cures all distempers of the body.”
The Charaka 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. This opinion of Charaka is true and Shilajit is being used for many ailments of different organ systems. Here are few of the disease cured by Shilajit:
1. Adoptogenic: It increases the resistance to stress, anxiety and rejuvenates the body.
2. Dermatological: Leprosy and parasitic infections of skin is effectively treated with Shilajit
3. Worms: It is a very good anthelminthic drug.
4. Diabetes: It is prescribed for diabetes mellitus, renal stones and urinary tract infections.
5. Obesity: scraping effect of Shilajit on fat helps in losing weight.
6. Reproduction: It is extensively used to treat male and female reproductive problems. It is beneficial in cases of premature ejaculation, impotency and spermaturia (loss of sperms in urine). It is effective in treating dysmenorrhea and infertility in females.
7. Anemia: It is beneficial in treating anemia as it increases the production of red blood cells.
8. Neurological: Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and loss of consciousness can be treated with Shilajit.
9. Immune: It is proved to improve the immune system.
10. Bodybuilding: It helps in muscle building and losing unnecessary fat.
Many researches has been conducted on rats to confirm the effectiveness of Shilajit, here are few of the proven results:
1. Analgesic activity: Analgesic activity of aqueous suspension of shilajit justified its use in different painful conditions.
2. Anti-ulcerogenic activity: It has shown anti ulcerative properties by creating a mucus barrier on the walls on stomach.
3. Anxiolytic activity: It has significant anxiolytic activity, comparable qualitatively with that induced by diazepam.
4. Anti-Alzheimer: Shilajit has shown positive results in treating Alzheimer’s disease which is apparently untreatable by modern day medicines.
Charaka has stated in his literature that Shilajit enables the user to witness a hundred summers on earth, free from disease and decay. This may sound as a line of exaggeration but the beneficial properties of Shilajit are a very big asset for medical field of all times.