Shilajit and Testosterone: Himalayan Rock-Tar Extract
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Gerardo Sison, PharmD
Shilajit is a dark tar-like rocky substance collected from the deep rocks of Himalaya. It’s considered to be one of the cornerstones of Ayurveda (Indian medicine) and its use dates back thousands of years.
Even in the western medicine (where Shilajit is rather a new thing), it’s considered to be a healing substance, mainly due to the fact that it’s claimed to contain more than 85 different minerals in their ionic form (bound to fulvic acid).
Shilajit can also apparently increase testosterone levels, promote healthy semen production, and slightly boost hemoglobin levels.
Shilajit, Fulvic Acid, and Testosterone
Not much research has been done to determine what shilajit actually is, but the most accepted theory seems to be that its millions of years worth of composed plant matter that has developed into this extremely nutrient-rich rocky-tar in between the Himalayan deep rocks.
Several studies and patent applications have reported shilajit to contain 70-85 minerals in their ionic form, with other organic compounds such as resins, humic acid, fulvic acids, fatty-acids, amino-acids, triterpenes, benzoic acid, multiple enzymes, and steroidal saponins.
Perhaps the most interesting benefit of shilajit is its high fulvic acid content (10-20%). Fulvic acid is considered to be one of our nature’s most powerful electrolytes which are created by soil-based micro-organisms to make vitamins and minerals assimilate better inside plants. The electron-donor benefits of fulvic acid might be one of the reasons why shilajit has been found to increase testosterone (more about that in a bit).
When it comes to scientific studies on the uses and benefits of shilajit supplements, there aren’t many, but the effects are – more or less – impressive.
In 2010, Indian researchers gave their 35 infertile test-subjects 200mg/day of shilajit extract for 90 consecutive days. When the hormone and sperm parameters were compared from day 1 to day 90, the researchers noted the following improvements;
- Total sperm count rose by 61%.
- Sperm quality increased by 37%.
- Serum testosterone levels increased by 23%, and FSH rose by 9%.
- Markers of oxidative damage also went down, whereas hemoglobin slightly increased.
One more recent study from 2015 (sponsored by shilajit manufacturer PrimaVie) showed that in healthy volunteers aged between 45-55 years, 250mg/day of shilajit extract for 90 days was able to;
- Increase total-testosterone levels by 20%
- Increase free-testosterone levels by 19%
- Boost DHEA levels by 31% while maintaining normal LH and FSH levels.
Shilajit also has a potential nootropic effect, on smaller animal studies it has been noted that shilajit can activate the hypothalamic glycine and GABA-receptors of rodents, this should have a “calm and relaxing” effect on the brain, reduce anxiety, and promote sleep quality. One rat study actually tested shilajit as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and found significant improvements. Two other studies have theorized that shilajit could be effective for protection against Alzheimer’s disease (study, study).
There’s plenty of snake oil salesmen in the shilajit market trying to sell anything black as shilajit. To get the real deal you should always use the actual resin form of shilajit supplements from trusted and tested brands with years of experience in manufacturing, instead of jumping on the claims of some smaller supplement companies with their shady low-priced products.
Shilajit is a nutritional powerhouse of fulvic acid, ionic minerals, enzymes, and a massive amount of various phytonutrients.
The research on shilajit is still in baby-steps (only 61 scientific publications available as of May 2016), but the evidence so far is impressive and I’m positive there will be more research either proving shilajit to be a useful Ayurvedic supplement or just another supplemental non-starter. Time will tell…