Shilajit is a resin from mountainous regions which has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries. It’s typically produced from rocks in the form of a tar-like substance, and it can be found on top of shales or coal seams that are rich in organic materials.
In Sanskrit, Shilajit means conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness. The name is apt because this plant extract contains more than 85 minerals including copper, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.
It has recently gained popularity because of its reported benefits such as increasing testosterone levels, improving sexual performance, and decreasing fatigue.
However, Shilajit isn’t just good for humans; it also works wonders on the skin! Shilajit can be found in face masks to help rejuvenate your complexion.
The two major types of Shilajit are Himalaya and Altai which are based on the region in which they are extracted from, and can be purchased in a variety of forms such as resin, powder, liquid, capsules, tablets and drops.
Shilajit is often referred to as Mineral Pitch, Black Bitumen, or Asphaltum. Continue reading as I share more about this fascinating and valuable compound: the different types, where they come from, their benefits, what form they come in, and more!
Shilajit is a tar-like resin substance that most popularly originates from the Himalayan and Altai Mountains. Shilajit is rich in minerals, and has been shown to provide a number of positive benefits to human health, from male fertility to fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
The purest and most common forms to order Shilajit in are resin and liquid, which are regarded as the least natural and most refined. Shilajit has a rich history in a number of Asian cultures, and continues to be an important medical remedy across the world today.
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Different Types Of Shilajit
Shilajit can be broken down into two main types, based on the region that it originates. The two are Altai Shilajit and Himalaya Shilajit – which also contain their own specific differentiators.
Altai Shilajit, as the name suggests, comes from the Altai Mountains. These mountains range from the Gobi Desert below Mongolia to the West Siberian Plain.
Given the unique location of these mountains, they are known for intersecting both China and Kazakhstan, while also bordering Russia and Mongolia.
The Altai Shilajit can be extracted from a number of locations on this mountainous region – typically between 10,000-14,000 feet of elevation.
The formation of Shilajit in this region follows a very organic process. During the warmer months of the year, water flows through the Altai mountains and causes mineral to dissolve and flow from rock into the water.
These minerals interact with a number of other substances in the water on their way to cracks and crevices in the rock beds of the mountains. When the time comes for evaporation of the water that had once flowed, raw Shilajit deposits and crusts are left behind.
Historically, these deposits would be extracted from the mountain, and further purified using the fresh water sources within the elevated region. The purification process was elaborate, and required tedious effort to complete.
Nowadays, this process is conducted by modern technology to cultivate the substance into its final form.
Himalayan Shilajit, as can also be deduced from its name, comes from the Himalayan Mountains. This Shilajit is often nicknamed Silajeet, Shilajeet, and more by those native to the area. Collection of this type of Shilajit is nearly identical to that of the Altai Shilajit described above.
As many know, the Himalayan Mountains border a number of countries, including Pakistan, India, China, Bhutan, and Nepal. Perhaps the most famous of the range is Mount Everest, which sits higher than 29,000 feet of elevation at its peak.
The Altai Mountains are directly north of the Himalayas, and do not reach a comparable altitude. Himalayan Shilajit is often collected between 16,000-19,000 feet of elevation.
One of the most interesting pieces of information I gathered was the connection between Hindu mythology and Himalayan Shilajit. The substance plays a significant role in many Ayurveda and Indian medical practices that exist to this day.
Collection of the Himalayan Shilajit is also quite similar to that of the Altai – exudate from the summer months allowing for the eventual extraction of the substance. The variation between the two is best broken down into their mineral composition, altitude, and purification methods – which we will touch on next.
Himalyan vs. Altai Shilajit
First and foremost, Altai and Himalayan Shilajit differ most in the region which they originate. Not only are the geographical differences significant, but also the altitude that they come from.
The Himalayas sit at a significantly higher altitude than the Altai, and thus the Shilajit from these regions are composed of different minerals based on these location/height differences.
Furthermore, the culture around these regions plays a big role in the way these two types are purified. As was mentioned, Himalayan Shilajit holds a religious and medical role in Hindu culture.
Typically, Shilajit from the Himalaya’s is considered to be the more potent and quality of the two. Because of the altitude difference during collection, Altai tends to be classified as a lower grade – mainly due to potency.
That said, both these types of Shilajit are considered to be of the highest quality in the world.
Types Of Forms
Beyond the types of Shilajit we described above, there are also a number of forms that the substance is crafted into for distribution and consumption. Each form has its own pros and cons that are important considerations when looking to purchase and consume Shilajit.
The first is a resin from, which is the one of the most popular and natural forms. It is described as a smooth, but waxy paste that people typically dissolve into a warm beverage. Due to it being close to its natural form, it is considered one of the purest.
The resin form undergoes less refinement, and has a long shelf life when stored properly. One downside is the strong flavor that comes with such a potent form.
Shilajit also comes in liquid form, and is enjoyed due to its simplicity. Most people normally pour the substance directly into a warm or cool beverage.
This form is considered one of the freshest, and also very natural – similar to the resin. Most of the nutrients and minerals remain in the Shilajit due to its minimal refinement.
It is often regarded as the purest and most recommended form to purchase. The cons of this form are also its strong flavor, as well as its expensive nature.
Capsules are quite a bit more concentrated. The benefits of this form are its convenience during travel, storage, and consumption.
Negative considerations include it being a bit more processed, since it is a dried form that takes longer to reach a final state.
The powder form of Shilajit typically appears a bit lighter – usually brown or amber. This form is simply dissolved into water, and the high quality sources have no buffers or fillers added in.
On the downside, it can be very difficult to find a trustworthy source in the powder form – most are questionable in purity and authenticity.
Shilajit can also be purchased in tablet/drop form, which capitalizes on the forms above to provide a more convenient packaging and consumption method.
Types Of Benefits
Since both of the types discussed are considered high quality, they are thought to have fairly similar benefits to the human body.
Although the potencies differ, both contain a high concentration of quite a few minerals, as well as fluvic and humic acids.
The health benefits of Shilajit are quite extensive, but still remain as potential benefits. This is mainly due to the fact that there is still a lot of room for well-designed studies around the advertised benefits.
- Obesity – Studies show a better response to exercise after consuming Shilajit, which activates genes in the body to assist skeletal muscles in adapting to certain exercise.
- Fertility/Testosterone – Studies also indicate that taking Shilajit can lead to increased male fertility through increased sperm count and motility.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – Promising results have been concluded in the realm of this disease – the fluvic acid in Shilajit may aid in blocking a harmful protein that serves as a key indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cholesterol – Improvements in cholesterol were seen across a small study of teenage to middle aged individuals after consuming Shilajit over a 1.5 month period.
The studied benefits of Shilajit go on well beyond the examples provided – from diabetes, to chronic pain, eczema, digestive issues, aging, brain function, and more.
As more studies are conducted on the positive ramifications of Shilajit consumption, we can only hope that they continue to validate the many benefits that have already been discussed.
Shilajit is a substance that carries a fascinating level of history and complexity with it. The diverse benefits it provides to the human body are difficult to find in a single other substance.
The major types of Shilajit – Himalaya and Altai – are based on the region in which they are extracted from, and can be purchased in a variety of forms.
This guide is intended to serve as an overview and useful resource in understanding the origins and modern applications of the versatile substance Shilajit.