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Shilajit (Sanskrit: शिलाजतु, śilājatu)[1] is a thick, sticky tar-like substance with a colour ranging from white to dark brown (the latter is more common), found predominantly in Himalaya, Karakuram, Tibet mountains, Caucasus mountains, Altai Mountains, and mountains of Gilgit Baltistan .[2][3]

Shilajit is a blackish-brown exudation, of variable consistency, obtained from steep rocks of different formations found in the Altai Mountains

It is used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acids[4][5] and fulvic acid.


The English word shilajit is a phonetic adaptation of "śilājīt" (Hindi: शिलाजीत), which in turn goes back to Sanskrit (Sanskrit: शिलाजतु, śilājatu)[1]. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit compound is "mountain tar", the first element शिला (śilā) meaning "pertaining to, or having the properties of a rock, mountain", the second - जातु (jatu) denoting "gum, lac; any tarry substance"[6]


Close photo of 1 gram of purified Shilajit aka Mumio ready for consumption. This is an example of dry resin type that has 9% to 7% of moisture.

Shilajit comes from the Sanskrit compound word shilajatu meaning "rock-tar", which is the regular Ayurveda term. It is also spelled shilajeet (Hindi: शिलाजीत) and salajeet (Urdu: سلاجیت‎).

Shilajit is known universally by various other names,[7] such as mineral pitch or mineral wax in English, black asphaltum, Asphaltum punjabianum in Latin, also locally as shargai, dorobi, barahshin, baragshun (Mongolian: Барагшун), mummenayyee (Farsi مومنایی), tasmayi (Kazakh: тасмайы, lit. rock oil), [8] brag zhun (Tibetan: བྲག་ཞུན་), chao-tong, wu ling zhi (Chinese: 五灵脂, which generally refers to the excrement of flying squirrels), badha-naghay (Burushaski for "feces of a featherless flying squirrel), baad-a-ghee (Wakhi for "devil's feces"), and arkhar-tash (Kyrgyz: архар-таш).[7] The most widely used name in the former Soviet Union is mumiyo (Russian: мумиё, variably transliterated as mumijo, mumio, momia, and moomiyo), which is ultimately from Latin (mumia) body-preserving, a borrowing of the medieval Arabic mūmiya (مومياء) and from a Persian mūm (موم) or mūmiya (مومیا).


Euphorbia royleana, a possible botanical source of the Shilajit gum

Several researchers have noted that Shilajit is unlike mineral tar seeps and is most likely of vegetable origin. The cactus like plant Euphorbia royleana has been observed growing near collection sites and is suggested as a likely origin as its gum has a similar composition.[9]

One more recent hypothesis states that the species of Asterella, Dumortiera, Marchantia, Pellia, Plagiochasma and Stephenrencella-Anthoceros have been growing in shilajit neighborhood and it is these plants, mosses and liverworts that during centuries have been fueling the Shilajit deposits generation[10]

A thallose liverwort, one more potential "mother" for shilajit


According to ancient Indian sources Shilajatu was born from a friction of the celestial spheres during Samudra Manthana episode. The Devas and the Asuras agreed to churn the primal Ocean in order to obtain the beneficial Amrita substance.

"Divine Sweating" during Samudra Manthana process which is said to beget Shilajit

They wrapped the king snake Vasuki Naga around Mount Mandara, which was used as a churning rod, and mixed the primordial Milk Ocean The Gods and Demons had been sweating hugely during the elaborous churning process. And their sweat interacted with the divine nectar. So originated Shilajit deposits were distributed about the mountains of the world[11]


The first documented reference to Shilajit in the form of "Shilajatu" dates back to the sixth century BCE. Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit medicine treatise states: "A gelatinous substance that is secreted from the [12]side of the mountains when they have become heated by the rays of the sun in the months of Jyaishta and Ashadha. This substance is what is known as Šilájatu and it cures all distempers of the body.[13] During medieval era, Shilajit had been considered one of the rasa (nutritive fluid) to endow a person with magical power when taken with particular metals, bhasmas, herbs, ghee or honey. A famous alchemical Siddhanjana also known as the "ointment of Mags" included camphor, shilajatu, some psychoactive herbs, as well as metal oxides and minerals. It allegedly enabled the practitioner to see "all the seven worlds of Hell (Patala)". [14] Shilajit is found predominantly in Himalaya, Tibet mountains, Altai and Caucasus mountains. The color range varies from a yellowish brown to pitch-black, depending on composition. For use in Ayurvedic medicine the black variant is considered the most potent. Shilajit has been described as 'mineral oil', 'stone oil', 'Mountain Blood' or 'rock sweat', as it seeps from cracks in mountains due mostly to the warmth of the sun. There are many local legends and stories about its origin, use and properties, often wildly exaggerated. It should not be confused with ozokerite, also a humic substance, similar in appearance, but apparently without medicinal qualities.

Once cleaned of impurities and extracted, shilajit is a homogeneous brown-black paste-like substance, with a glossy surface, a peculiar smell and bitter taste. Dry shilajit density ranges from 1.1 to 1.8 g/cm3. It has a plastic-like behavior, at a temperature lower than 20°C (68°F) it will solidify and will soften when warmed. It easily dissolves in water without leaving any residue, and it will soften when worked between the fingers.

It is still unclear whether shilajit has a geological or biological origin as it has numerous traces of vitamins and amino acids. A shilajit-like substance from Antarctica was found to contain glycerol derivatives and was also believed to have medicinal properties.[15]

Health benefits[edit]

The proposed immuno-modulatory activity does not stand the test of critical assessment and is considered as unproven.[16]

Shilajit has been the subject of scientific research in Russia and India since the early 1950s. In the former USSR, medical preparations based on mumiyo/shilajit are still being sold,[17] further developed and investigated.


  1. ^ a b Rigpa Wiki
  2. ^ A. Hill, Carol; Forti, Paolo (1997). Cave minerals of the world, Volume 2. National Speleological Society. pp. 217–23. ISBN 978-1-879961-07-4.
  3. ^ David Winston & Steven Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, Healing Arts Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-59477-158-3
  4. ^ Ahmed R. Al-Himaidi, Mohammed Umar (2013). "Safe Use of Salajeet During the Pregnancy of Female Mice". Journal of Biological Sciences. 3 (8): 681–684. doi:10.3923/jbs.2003.681.684.
  5. ^ Shibnath Ghosal (January 2009). "Chemistry of shilajit, an immunomodulatory Ayurvedic rasayan". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 62 (7): 1285–1288. doi:10.1351/pac199062071285.
  6. ^ Chicago, The University of; (CRL), Center for Research Libraries. "Digital South Asia Library". Retrieved 2017-12-23.
  7. ^ a b Winston, David; Maimes, Steven (2007). "Shilajit". Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company. pp. 201–204. ISBN 978-1-59477-969-5. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
  8. ^ Kizaibek, Murat (2013). "Research advances of Tasmayi". Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 38 (3): 443–448. doi:10.4268/cjcmm20130331.
  9. ^ Lal, VK; Panday, KK; Kapoor, ML (1988). "LITERARY SUPPORT TO THE VEGETABLE ORIGIN OF SHILAJIT" (PDF). Ancient Science of Life. 7 (3–4): 145–8. PMC 3336633. PMID 22557605.
  10. ^ "The origin of shilajit" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Bagavata Purana" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Bhagavata Purana" (PDF).
  13. ^ Suśruta; Kunjalal Bhishagratna (1998). Suśruta Saṁhitā: Nidānasthāna-cikitsā sthāna. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office. ISBN 978-81-7080-011-8.
  14. ^ Rigveda Samhita Siddhanjana Part 1 Kapali Sastry T. V. on the Internet Archive
  15. ^ Anna Aiello, Ernesto Fattorusso, Marialuisa Menna, Rocco Vitalone, Heinz C. Schröder, Werner E. G. Müller (September 2010). "Mumijo Traditional Medicine: Fossil Deposits from Antarctica (Chemical Composition and Beneficial Bioactivity)". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011: 738131. doi:10.1093/ecam/nen072. PMC 3139983. PMID 18996940.
  16. ^ Wilson, Eugene; Rajamanickam, G. Victor; Dubey, G. Prasad; Klose, Petra; Musial, Frauke; Saha, F. Joyonto; Rampp, Thomas; Michalsen, Andreas; Dobos, Gustav J. (June 2011). "Review on shilajit used in traditional Indian medicine". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 136 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.033. PMID 21530631.
  17. ^ Schepetkin, Igor; Khlebnikov, Andrei; Kwon, Byoung Se (2002). "Medical drugs from humus matter: Focus on mumie". Drug Development Research. 57 (3): 140–159. doi:10.1002/ddr.10058.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bucci, Luke R (2000). "Selected herbals and human exercise performance". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 72 (2 Suppl): 624S–36S. PMID 10919969.
  • Hill, Carol A.; Forti, Paolo (1997). Cave minerals of the world. 2 (2nd ed.). National Speleological Society. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-879961-07-4.
  • Schepetkin, Igor; Khlebnikov, Andrei; Kwon, Byoung Se (2002). "Medical drugs from humus matter: Focus on mumie". Drug Development Research. 57 (3): 140–159. doi:10.1002/ddr.10058.
  • Frolova, L. N.; Kiseleva, T. L. (1996). "Chemical composition of mumijo and methods for determining its authenticity and quality (a review)". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 30 (8): 543–547. doi:10.1007/BF02334644.
  • Kiseleva, T. L.; Frolova, L. N.; Baratova, L. A.; Yus'Kovich, A. K. (1996). "HPLC study of fatty-acid components of dry mumijo extract". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 30 (6): 421–423. doi:10.1007/BF02219332.
  • Frolova, L. N.; Kiseleva, T. L.; Kolkhir, V. K.; Baginskaya, A. I.; Trumpe, T. E. (1998). "Antitoxic properties of standard dry mumijo extract". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 32 (4): 197–199. doi:10.1007/BF02464208.
  • Kiseleva, T. L.; Frolova, L. N.; Baratova, L. A.; Baibakova, G. V.; Ksenofontov, A. L. (1998). "Study of the amino acid fraction of dry mumijo extract". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 32 (2): 103–108. doi:10.1007/BF02464176.
  • Kiseleva, T. L.; Frolova, L. N.; Baratova, L. A.; Ivanova, O. Yu.; Domnina, L. V.; Fetisova, E. K.; Pletyushkina, O. Yu. (1996). "Effect of mumijo on the morphology and directional migration of fibroblastoid and epithelial cellsin vitro". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 30 (5): 337–338. doi:10.1007/BF02333977.
  • Joshi, G. C., K. C. Tiwari, N. K. Pande and G. Pande. 1994. Bryophytes, the source of the origin of Shilajit – a new hypothesis. B.M.E.B.R. 15(1–4): 106–111.
  • Ghosal, S., B. Mukherjee and S. K. Bhattacharya. 1995. Ind. Journal of Indg. Med. 17(1): 1–11.
  • Ghosal, S.; Reddy, J. P.; Lal, V. K. (1976). "Shilajit I: Chemical constituents". Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 65 (5): 772–3. doi:10.1002/jps.2600650545. PMID 932958.
  • Faruqi, S.H. 1997, Nature and Origin of Salajit, Hamdard Medicus, Vol XL, April–June, pages 21–30
  • Zahler, P; Karin, A (1998). "Origin of the floristic components of Salajit". Hamdard Medicus. 41 (2): 6–8.
  • Shafiq, Muhammad Imtiaz; Nagra, Saeed Ahmad; Batool, Nayab (2006). "Biochemical and Trace Mineral Analysis of Silajit Samples From Pakistan". Nutritional Sciences. 9 (3): 190–4.