Shilajit: Nootropic Benefits, Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

Overview of Shilajit's nootropic benefits, including its uses, dosage, and side effects

Shilajit, a natural mineral pitch found in the Himalayas, has been used for centuries to promote brain health, improve memory, and boost mental energy.

Research suggests it protects brain cells, supports neurotransmitter production, and improves mitochondrial function. These mechanisms help enhance focus and overall brain performance.

While generally safe, shilajit should be used cautiously and under professional guidance, especially for those with certain health conditions or taking medications.

What Is Shilajit?

Shilajit (also known as mumijo, mumie, mumiyo, salajeet, shilajitu, and shilajatu) is a natural mineral pitch found in the Himalayan regions.

It is formed over centuries by the decomposition of plants and minerals, and is harvested from rock crevices.

Shilajit has distinct characteristics, including a blackish-brown color, sticky texture, and earthy odor, and is water soluble.

What Is the Origin and Source of Shilajit?

raw shilajit

Shilajit is found primarily in the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, and Tibet.

It is formed over centuries by the gradual decomposition of plant matter and minerals, which are compressed between layers of rock. The substance slowly oozes out of cracks and crevices in the rocks, where it is harvested for use in traditional medicine.

What Are the Key Characteristics of Shilajit?

Shilajit is typically blackish-brown or dark brown in color, with a sticky, gummy, or resinous texture. It has a characteristic earthy or musky odor that is often described as strong and distinctive.

Shilajit also happens to be easily dissolvable in water or other liquids for consumption. This property makes it convenient to incorporate into various dietary supplements and traditional medicinal preparations.

ColorBlackish-brown or dark brown
TextureSticky, gummy, or resinous
OdorEarthy or musky

What Is the History and Traditional Use of Shilajit for Cognitive Function?

Shilajit has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a rejuvenating tonic for brain health and cognitive function.

It has been traditionally used to enhance memory, concentration, and overall brain function, and is often consumed as a dietary supplement.

What Is the Role of Shilajit in Medicine?

Shilajit has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as a rasayana, or rejuvenating tonic, to promote overall health and longevity.

In the context of brain health, shilajit is believed to enhance cognitive function, improve memory, and increase mental clarity. Ayurvedic practitioners often recommend shilajit to support the nervous system and promote healthy aging of the brain.

What Is Shilajit Generally Used For?

Traditionally, shilajit has been used in various forms to support various health aspects:

  • As a dietary supplement: Shilajit is available as capsules, or powders to promote mental and physical well being.
  • For enhancing mental acuity: Shilajit is a common ingredient in many herbal formulations designed to enhance memory, concentration, and overall brain function.
  • As a rejuvenating tonic: Shilajit is considered a rasayana in Ayurvedic medicine, meaning it is believed to promote rejuvenation, vitality, and longevity.

What Are the Key Components of Shilajit?

The key components of shilajit that contribute to its cognitive-enhancing properties include humic substances, fulvic acids, and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones.

These compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects, and help optimize neurotransmitter levels and promote brain cell growth and development.

Humic substancesAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, neuroprotective properties
Fulvic acidsPotent antioxidant, improves nutrient absorption and utilization
Dibenzo-alpha-pyronesNatural nootropics, modulate neurotransmitter levels, promote brain cell growth

What Are Humic Substances, and How Do They Benefit Cognition?

Humic substances are complex organic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may protect brain cells from damage and support healthy brain function.

According to a study, humic substances have been shown to exhibit neuroprotective properties and may have potential therapeutic applications for cognitive disorders.(1)

What Are Fulvic Acids, and How Do They Support Brain Function?

Fulvic acids are a specific type of humic substance found in high concentrations in shilajit. They have potent antioxidant properties: they help protect your brain cells from oxidative stress, which is a key factor in age-related cognitive decline.

Fulvic acids may also support brain health by improving the absorption and utilization of nutrients essential for proper brain function, such as vitamins and minerals.(2)

What Are Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones, and How Do They Enhance Cognitive Performance?

Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones are a class of compounds that have been studied for their potential cognitive-enhancing effects. These compounds act as natural nootropics, improving brain function by modulating neurotransmitter levels and promoting the growth and development of brain cells.

A study showed that dibenzo-alpha-pyrones isolated from shilajit improved memory and learning in animal models, suggesting their potential as cognitive enhancers.(3)

How Can Shilajit Boost Cognitive Function?

Shilajit may boost cognitive function by improving focus and concentration, enhancing memory and learning, increasing mental energy and alertness, and providing neuroprotective properties.

These effects are attributed to its ability to support neurotransmitter production, promote brain cell growth, optimize mitochondrial function, and protect brain cells from damage.

Cognitive BenefitMechanism of Action
Improved focus and concentrationSupports neurotransmitter production and balance
Enhanced memory and learningPromotes brain cell growth and development, protects brain cells from damage
Increased mental energy and alertnessSupports mitochondrial function in brain cells
Neuroprotective propertiesAntioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects protect brain cells from damage

How Can Shilajit Improve Focus and Concentration?

Shilajit may improve focus and concentration by supporting the production and balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and acetylcholine, play crucial roles in attention, motivation, and cognitive processing. The fulvic acids and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones in shilajit help optimize neurotransmitter levels, leading to enhanced focus and concentration.

How Can Shilajit Enhance Memory and Learning?

Shilajit may enhance memory and learning by promoting the growth and development of brain cells, particularly in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain primarily responsible for memory formation and consolidation.(4)

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of shilajit also protect brain cells from damage and support healthy brain function, thereby improving memory and learning capabilities.

How Can Shilajit Increase Mental Energy and Alertness?

Shilajit may increase mental energy and alertness by supporting mitochondrial function in brain cells.

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells responsible for producing energy in the form of ATP. Shilajit optimizes mitochondrial function, leading to increased energy production in brain cells and improved mental alertness and clarity.(5)

What Are the Neuroprotective Properties of Shilajit?

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of shilajit’s humic substances contribute to its neuroprotective properties.

By protecting brain cells from damage, shilajit may support healthy brain aging and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.(6)

How Is Shilajit Consumed for Cognitive Enhancement?

Shilajit is consumed for cognitive benefits, primarily in its purified form, which is free from impurities and standardized for active compound concentration.

The general recommended dosage for brain health is 300-500 mg/day, but effectiveness varies with its form and concentration.

How Is Shilajit Typically Consumed for Cognitive Benefits?

shilajit paste

Raw shilajit is quite rocky and contains impurities. It is purified by cleaning, moisture removal and removal of mineral impurities to increase the concentration of active compounds.

Purified shilajit extracts are standardized to contain a specific percentage of these compounds for use.

Shilajit is taken orally for cognitive benefits, either as a standalone supplement or as part of a formulation. It’s available for consumption in various forms, including:

  • Capsules or Tablets
  • Powder
  • Tinctures
  • Goo or Paste

The recommended dosage of shilajit for brain health varies depending on the form and concentration of the product, as well as individual factors such as age, weight, and health status.

Generally, the recommended daily dosage of shilajit extract for cognitive enhancement ranges from 300 to 500 mg per day.

However, it is essential to follow the specific dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer or consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement regimen.

FormTypical Dosage
Capsules or tablets1-2 capsules or tablets per day
Powder300-500 mg per day, mixed with water or other liquids
Tinctures1-2 droppers (0.5-1 mL) per day, taken directly or mixed with water

How Is the Quality and Authenticity of Shilajit Supplements Ensured?

To ensure the quality and authenticity of shilajit, reputable manufacturers and suppliers follow strict quality control measures, such as:

  • Sourcing shilajit from trusted, sustainable harvesting sites in the Himalayan regions.
  • Conducting thorough laboratory testing to verify the identity, purity, and potency of the shilajit.
  • Adhering to good manufacturing practices (GMP) to ensure consistent quality and safety of the final product.
  • Providing transparent information about the sourcing, processing, and testing of their shilajit products.

When purchasing shilajit supplements, it is essential to choose products from reputable brands that prioritize quality, purity, and transparency to ensure the best possible results and minimize the risk of contamination or adulteration.

Are There Any Precautions or Side Effects of Shilajit for Cognitive Function?

While shilajit is generally considered safe when consumed in recommended dosages, some people may experience side effects such as digestive discomfort or allergic reactions.

Certain individuals, including pregnant or breastfeeding women and those with chronic health conditions, should avoid or use caution with shilajit. It may also interact with cognitive-enhancing medications.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Shilajit for Brain Health?

While generally safe, some people may experience side effects, particularly when taking high doses or using low-quality or contaminated products. Potential side effects of shilajit may include:

  • Digestive discomfort: Some people may experience mild digestive issues, such as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach upset, when first starting to take shilajit supplements.
  • Allergic reactions: In rare cases, individuals may have an allergic reaction to shilajit, which can cause symptoms such as itching, rash, or difficulty breathing.
  • Increased uric acid levels: Shilajit contains high levels of purines, which can increase uric acid levels in the body. This may be a concern for individuals with gout or a history of kidney stones.

Who Should Avoid or Use Caution with Shilajit?

Certain individuals should avoid or use caution when considering shilajit:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: There is limited research on the safety of shilajit during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it is generally recommended to avoid use during these times.
  • Individuals with chronic health conditions: People with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, gout, or kidney disorders, should consult with a healthcare practitioner before taking shilajit supplements, as they may interact with certain medications or exacerbate underlying health issues.

Can Shilajit interact with other Medications?

Shilajit may interact with certain medications, including cognitive-enhancing drugs, such as:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors: Shilajit may enhance the effects of cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil, which are used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Stimulants: Shilajit may interact with stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate or amphetamines, which are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other cognitive issues.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare practitioner before combining shilajit with any cognitive-enhancing medications to avoid potential interactions and ensure safe and effective use.

What Is the Future Outlook and Research on Shilajit for Cognitive Enhancement?

Current research on shilajit for brain health focuses on its neuroprotective properties, cognitive performance enhancement, mechanisms of action, and synergistic effects with other substances.

Potential future applications include the prevention or treatment of age-related cognitive disorders, traumatic brain injury, and cognitive aging, as well as mental performance optimization.

However, challenges and limitations in research, such as standardization, long-term safety, clinical evidence, and understanding of mechanisms, need to be addressed to fully unlock its potential.

What Are the Current Areas of Research on Shilajit for Brain Health?

Current research on shilajit for brain health focuses on several key areas:

  • Neuroprotective properties: Researchers are investigating the potential of shilajit to protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, inflammation, and other harmful factors, which may contribute to age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Cognitive performance enhancement: Studies are exploring the effects of shilajit on various aspects of cognitive function, such as memory, learning, attention, and processing speed, in both healthy individuals and those with cognitive impairments.
  • Mechanisms of action: Scientists are working to better understand the specific mechanisms by which shilajit and its key components, such as fulvic acids and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones, exert their cognitive-enhancing effects on the brain.
  • Synergistic effects: Researchers are investigating the potential synergistic effects of shilajit when combined with other cognitive-enhancing substances, such as herbal extracts or nootropic compounds, to develop more effective formulations for brain health.

What Are the Potential Future Applications of Shilajit for Cognitive Performance?

As research on shilajit for cognitive performance continues to advance, several potential future applications are emerging:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: The neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing properties of shilajit may make it a promising candidate for the prevention or treatment of age-related cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • Traumatic brain injury: Shilajit’s potential to protect brain cells from damage and promote neuronal growth and development may make it useful in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and their cognitive consequences.
  • Cognitive aging: Shilajit may be used as a preventive or therapeutic intervention to support healthy cognitive aging and maintain optimal brain function throughout life.

As research on shilajit for cognitive enhancement continues to evolve, addressing the challenges and limitations will be crucial to unlocking its full potential as a natural nootropic and developing evidence-based applications for brain health and performance.

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Van Rensburg, Constance EJ. “The antiinflammatory properties of humic substances: a mini review.” Phytotherapy Research 29.6 (2015): 791-795.
  2. Swat, Monika, Iga Rybicka, and Anna Gliszczyńska-Świgło. “Characterization of fulvic acid beverages by mineral profile and antioxidant capacity.” Foods 8.12 (2019): 605.
  3. Trivedi, N. A., et al. “Effect of shilajit on blood glucose and lipid profile in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.” Indian journal of pharmacology 36.6 (2004): 373-376.
  4. Jaiswal, Arun Kumar, and S. K. Bhattacharya. “Effects of Shilajit on memory, anxiety and brain monoamines in rats.” Indian Journal of Pharmacology 24.1 (1992): 12-17.
  5. Bhattacharyya, Sauryya, et al. “Shilajit dibenzo-α-pyrones: mitochondria targeted antioxidants.” Pharmacologyonline 2 (2009): 690-698.
  6. Andrade, Víctor, et al. “Scaling the andean shilajit: a novel neuroprotective agent for alzheimer’s disease.” Pharmaceuticals 16.7 (2023): 960.

Jacob Kovacs is a cognitive neuroscientist and author at WholisticResearch, specializing in nootropics and neuroactive peptides. His expertise in neuroscience and psychopharmacology bridges cognitive science with drug development. Kovacs’ work focuses on enhancing cognitive functions and brain health through innovative, efficient neuroactive compounds that overcome traditional pharmacokinetic challenges. His contributions are pivotal in advancing the understanding and treatment of neurological diseases.