It seems there’s a fair amount of back and forth controversy about Shilajit.

Do a quick web search, and you’ll be able to round up more than a dozen articles touting the preternatural health benefits of the compound, while simultaneously supplying a dozen more decrying its mortal dangers.

So, which is it?

Is this a natural substance with supernatural healing powers, or a quack doctors dream, propped up by unproven claims?

Let’s find out.

What is Shilajit?

Shilajit is a substance found primarily in the Himalayas. It’s thick, sticky, and has a composition and coloring very similar to tar.

It is also a primary component of Ayurveda traditional medicine, an amalgamation of (purportedly) more than 80 minerals that provide outstanding health benefits. It is believed that Shilajit forms via the decomposition of plants in the mountainous region, then exudes from the rocks.

Though highly acclaimed in the Ayurveda system from which it hails, the substance has little standing in the west, and there is only limited evidence supporting claims that it has any positive effects on the human body.

Compounding this issue is the fact that Shilajit is difficult to obtain, and the purity of the so-called “Shilajit” found online is dubious at best.

In many cases, what is peddled as GENUINE HIMALAYAN SHILAJIT (emphasis mine) is just a filler compound spiked with something else to try and provide some effect for users.

This is particularly true for Shilajit powders, capsules, and tablets. Shilajit resins are apparently less likely to be counterfeit.

Though banned for sale in some countries, you can currently obtain Shilajit in the United States through online retailers. It’s not approved by the FDA, though.

A word of caution, though: even in cases where the online sellers claim to source the Shilajit themselves, how would you know the difference?

In cases where the Shilajit is the real deal, supporters claim that it has the potential to “restore energetic balance” and control several diseases, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive degeneration.

Unfortunately, not much data backs these claims up, so anecdotal evidence is all we have to go on for now.

Other Names for Shilajit

Shilajit is known by several nicknames, including mineral pitch, black asphaltum, Ashphaltum Punjabianum, Shargai, Dorobi, Barahshin, Barahshun, Mumlai, Brag Zhun, Chao-Tong, Wu Ling Zhi, Baad-A-Ghee, Arkhar-Tash, and Mumiyo.

Editor’s Note

My skepticism meter was going through the roof on this one. I had heard a bit about Shilajit and didn