Energy, Clarity, and Increased Endurance—Is Shilajit Too Good to Be true?
Here’s my experience after three years of regular consumption.
I’m wary of “panacea culture,” a phenomenon in which one product, one practice, or one “secret” is promised to be the answer to everyone’s woes.
I remember the ketone craze in the early 2000's, in which alternative supplement companies began bottling and selling what they claimed were ketones, but after chemical analysis by a few suspicious consumers was later discovered to be—wait for it—mineral water. The promise was that the little tiny dropper bottles, along with a diet of only 500 calories a day, would cause rapid and lasting weight loss.
Back then, I pored over online message boards reading reviews and comments from people who absolutely swore by the “ketogenic” substance (before any of us knew that it was a scam) and remember promising myself that once I could afford one of those little bottles, I too would join the ranks of those extra lean and happy folks. It was just a few months later that everyone in those online ketone circles realized the bottles were full of false promises, and that those seeing results were merely starved, not gaining anything from the “magical product.”
Needless to say, I’ve been burned by our culture’s obsession for “the magic pill” before. As a result, I’m constantly on my guard for false advertisement—and even more wary of high levels of enthusiasm around any practice or product. But hype isn’t how I found shilajit in 2018.
I was looking for chyawanprash.
In 2018, I was training to become a meditation teacher. Part of the rigorous curriculum involved reading myriad books on yoga, and I found myself deep in a book by a yogi who recommended chyawanprash as a supplement for energy and youth (who doesn’t want energy and youth?!). I had already begun exploring Ayurvedic medicine and traditional yogic remedies with great success, so I set out to find high quality chyawanprash.
The best quality chyawanprash I was able to find online was sold with only one other product—something call shilajit.
I was intrigued by the description of shilajit, and I must admit, drawn in by the reviews on the website, which seemed geniuine and heartfelt. The company seemed to be extremely small and relatively unknown online (no cult following, which I deemed a good thing). Having never heard of the substance, I dove into research-mode.
It checked out—legitimate, double-blind studies supported its potency and effectiveness when contrasted with a placebo. I took a chance and splurged.
What is shilajit?
Shilajit is a resinous substance that oozes from the Himalayan mountains (and a select few other mountain ranges). If you’ve ever heard of the Pangea theory, it’s supported by the existence of shilajit: the idea that there was once a supercontinent on earth that broke up due to significant flooding, temperature changes, and underground volcanic activity, resulting in the separated continents we have now.
The theory of Pangea states that when the land mass broke up, several land fragments essentially “crashed” into one another; one of them crashing into what we now know as South Asia. Thus, the Himalayas were born from the force and impact of this crash (much like a totaled car becoming horizontally condensed but taller in vertical height and mass).
All of the organic matter that was on the land mass prior to the crash—ancient trees, animals, minerals, and more—was submerged beneath the stacked layers of earth (i.e., the oldest mountain ranges), and now ooze to the surface periodically in the form of a thick, resinous material. This material is thought to be millions of years old, and once again, the science checks out: only 80% of the chemical composition has been successfully identified by researchers—the remaining 20% doesn’t match any presently categorized organic substances, making it both a mystery and a puzzle.
Personally, I can’t think of anything more exciting that consuming a mysterious tar-like substance made from millions-year old organic material (it excites the anthropologist in me), so I had no problem beginning a daily regimen of ingestion.
Per the yogi who recommended the chyawanprash, I consumed the shilajit in my morning tea. Word on the yogic-street is that hot tea (particularly with honey) “carries” the supplement more effectively, causing the body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients possible in any given serving. I don’t know about the science behind those instructions, but I enjoyed cultivating a morning ritual around tea. My tea was not new to me, and any effects of the chamomile or peppermint teabags that I alternate between were already familiar and did not interfere with my evaluation of shilajit’s effects.
Using the metal spatula provided from the supplier I chose, I eyeballed a quarter-of-a-pea sized drop of the thick, resinous material and stirred it into my tea, where it quickly dissolved. I then consumed my tea over the course of 10–20 minutes, noting the slightly dirt-like flavor added by the shilajit.
I carried out my days as normal. Here’s what I noticed.
I’m extremely caffeine sensitive, which doesn’t stop me from enjoying the occasional cup of coffee, but prevents me from developing a coffee habit.
Generally, I have a high level of energy throughout the day (thanks in large part to daily Wim Hof breathing), but I noticed that my energy baseline was higher than usual when I drank shilajit.
The days also seemed to pass more quickly. On a regular shilajit consumption regimen, I am more productive, but without added effort.
In addition to having a higher energy baseline than usual, I also found my cognition to be crystal-clear.
When I began taking shilajit, I was a college student taking an average of 16–20 units a semester in an honors program (in addition to a meditation teacher training curriculum). Within a year of regular shilajit consumption, I found myself taking on a physically demanding job as well.
While I’m no stranger to “the hustle”—I’d been working my ass off for most of my young adulthood—I didn’t feel like I was hustling that year, nor any year since. Of course, I can’t attribute it all to the shilajit, but I feel my efforts were absolutely supported by the supplement in subtle (yet noticeable) ways.
Significantly increased endurance.
Endurance increase is not something I noticed right away taking shilajit—but it’s something that I quickly developed, likely due to increased energy.
Kettlebell training is a fundamental part of my workout, with kettlebell swings making up the majority of my conditioning. After introducing shilajit, I quickly noticed that my sets of 20 swings were becoming significantly easier (an ease that could not be accounted for by time—they were already a regular part of my routine). Within months of incorporating shilajit, I was able to begin increasing my swings within a set, swining as high as 35 swings on a good day. This increase is probably best appreciated by someone who has experienced the precision and effort required to swing properly, but allow me to say it’s great progress, and wouldn’t have been possible for me without some kind of extra boost.
Along this vein, I notice in the occasional weeks where I am waiting on a new shilajit shipment, my endurance declines noticeably. Not enough to undermine my performance, but it’s noticeable to me—and I feel like an edge is missing.
Calmer meditation sessions.
This is not directly related to physical performance, but I consider meditation an important part of “life performance.”
As a daily meditator, I notice that increases in the speed of my thought patterns tends to correlate with higher levels of anxiety throughout the days. The calmer my meditation sessions, the calmer my days—and vice versa. This bidirectional relationship has been enhanced by shilajit: my thoughts are noticeably calmer in meditation, and my nervous system is noticeably calmer throughout the day.
I suspect that shilajit plays a role in regulating the nervous system—perhaps because of its high fulvic acid content.
The Role of Fulvic Acid
Fulvic acid is a compound rich in antioxidants, created when organic matter breaks down. No surprise there—shilajit is practically the fossilized, broken-down organic matter of millions of years past—so it’s high fulvic acid content only makes sense.
Fulvic acid doesn’t presently have the rich body of research that it deserves, but some it’s starting to—and new research is showing that it holds potent anti-inflammatory properties that could combat brain disease, inflammation throughout the body, and diabetes.
Fulvic acid is also something that’s commonly depleted from the soil in which our vegetables and plants are grown (a sad side effect of mono-cropping), making crops less therapeutic than they might have been at other times in history. By supplementing fulvic acid, it doesn’t just boost your own body’s performance—it boosts the performance of nearly every whole food that you eat.
In my entire shilajit-consuming career, I’ve only purchased from one seller, which is important to note. I can’t promise results from any product I haven’t personally tried, and I have heard that there are shilajit-imposter products on the market which consumers should be mindful of avoiding.
The shilajit from Lotus Blooming Herbs costs $59.99, and in my opinion, is worth every penny. In addition to enjoying it myself nearly every day for three years (each tin lasts me about two months), I’ve also given it to my 15-year-old maltese-terrier mix when he seems to be having a low day. The amount of energy that he produces for a week following one administration of a rice-sized amount is ridiculous—even comical—and I would love to give him more if he wasn’t such a picky eater. I have no doubt it would extend his lifespan significantly.
Additionally, there are other researched benefits to shilajit which haven’t been relevant to my needs, but others might find extremely intriguing: increases in virility and sperm count, increased respiration of the liver, increased absorption of other supplements and minerals, and increased muscle mass and fat loss, to name a few.
In sanskrit, the word “shilajit” translates to “conquerer of mountains” and “destroyer of weakness.” I’m not promising you a panacea to all of your problems—as you know, I’m obstinately against getting people’s hopes up falsely—but I am relatively certain that a physical and mental performance increase is inevitable with regular consumption of this substance.
I recommend that you get your hands on some high-quality shilajit and bullet journal your experiences over the weeks to follow, just for your own reference. In my experience, sometimes improvement is so subtle and rapid that we don’t even notice it—until the thing providing it is gone.
Only you can determine whether the benefits you experience justify keeping the supplement in your supply, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you will.
I know I certainly have, and am pleased to consider shilajit a non-negotiable part of my daily routine.
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