Does Shilajit brings health benefits, or more risks? Here is what science says

This article explores the various touted benefits of purified shilajit, with a focus on those that are proven in properly done scientific research, as well as any potential common side-effects and downsides. It is worth noting that most of the studies on benefits are based on animal models, with only a couple of human clinical trials.


Shilajit has been an essential part of folk and alternative medicine, including in Ayurvedic and Tibetan practice, and has been used as a remedy and cure-all for thousands of years. 

Shilajit is a natural-organic mineral product formed normally high in the mountains, often at altitudes of 15,000 ft and up. It looks like a blackish-brown powder or resin and is often found in places like the Himalayas, Pakistan, Bhutan, and even Peru. 

Assuming you are taking pure Himalayan Shilajit (than fake ones comprising of coal or ozokerite), there is no conclusive theory as to how Shilajit was actually formed, but some suggest that it is formed as a result of the decomposition of oil rocks by microorganisms. Other analyses suggest that it is of plant origin and, most likely, is the product of very slow decomposition of plant matter. 

Pure raw Shilajit is composed of humins, humic acid, and fulvic acid. Fulvic acid forms the major bioactive ingredient of Shilajit that accounts for 60 – 80% of its compounds. Other elements present in shilajit include fatty acids, resins, albumins, polyphenols, phenolic lipids, triterpenes, sterols, aromatic carboxylic acids, coumarins, latex, gums, and amino acids. 

Given that shilajit has become increasingly popular in a world hungry for natural solutions to boost vitality, libido, fertility, and improve wellness and lifestyle in general, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity for a deep-dive into this ancient remedy that has found renewed life in the modern world. 

Raw Shilajit vs Purified Shilajit: Which is better?

Raw shilajit and purified shilajit offer distinct variations in terms of processing and composition. Raw shilajit is the unprocessed, resin-like substance directly harvested from rocks in mountainous regions. While it contains a spectrum of minerals, organic compounds, and fulvic acid, its potency may vary, and it is very likely to contain dangerous contaminants like heavy metals, mycotoxins, and free radicals. 

Purified shilajit undergoes additional processing to eliminate contaminants, ensuring a more standardized composition. This purification is supposed to enhance consistency in quality, making it a preferred choice for those seeking a more controlled and refined supplement.

The purified form of shilajit is used in traditional medicine as a remedy for several diseases, particularly chronic ones. Traditional uses of shilajit primarily focus not only on diabetes and urinary tract diseases, but also for swelling, tumours, muscle degeneration, epilepsy and even mental health disorders. 

However, due to the largely unregulated nature of shilajit supplements and products, many commercial samples of supposedly purified shilajit supplements are, in fact, contaminated with heavy metals. There is also a real risk that most of these products are not even made with real shilajit but are instead produced from solvent extracted soil or coal mixed with fulvic acid used in fertilizer.

Benefits & Side Effects

Lets deep-dive into the health benefits of Shilajit and side effects to understand if there are tangible advantages or benefits vis-à-vis the downside risks.



In one clinical study, 60 men suffering from infertility were treated with 100mg of processed / purified shilajit (PS) twice daily for 90 days. 28 of the test subjects who completed the treatment showed significant (P < 0.001) improvement in spermia (+37.6%), total sperm count (+61.4%), motility (12.4-17.4% after different time intervals), normal sperm count (+18.9%).


In one clinical study of male volunteers between the ages of 45 and 55, half of the participants were given a placebo and half were given a 250mg dose of purified shilajit twice a day. After 90 consecutive days, the study found that participants receiving purified shilajit had a significantly higher testosterone level compared to the placebo group.


In an animal study from 2012, researchers gave rats shilajit in doses of 25mg to 100mg for 21 days, and then induced chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by making the rats to swim 15 minutes for 21 consecutive days. The results cited that shilajit helped reduce the effects of CFS. Those conducting the study postulate that this was the result of shilajit supporting the prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction.


An animal study divided 18 rats into three groups of six. The researchers induced anemia in the second and third group. Rats in the third group received a 5,000mg dose of shilajit after 11 days. They collected blood samples from all groups on the 21st day. The results revealed that rats in the shilajit test group had higher levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cells compared to rats in the second group.

Cardiac health

An animal study tested the cardiac performance of shilajit on two groups of lab rats. After receiving a pretreatment of shilajit, one test group of rats were injected with isoproterenol to induce heart injury. The study found that rats dosed with 250mg and 500mg of shilajit prior to cardiac injury had fewer cardiac lesions.

Other proposed benefits

As an antioxidant with high levels of fulvic acid and over 84 minerals, researchers postulate that shijalit could be useful for a number of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and high-altitude sickness. 

In terms of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers think that the high levels of fulvic acid in shilajit may inhibit the abnormal buildup of tau protein and reduce inflammation, potentially improving symptoms related to Alzheimer’s.

With high-altitude sickness, researchers suggest that the antioxidant nature of fulvic acid in shilajit could help counteract several of the negative symptoms associated with higher altitudes.

As for diabetes, some animal model studies involving rats show promising results in terms of reducing blood glucose levels.

Side Effects & Dangers

Heavy metal contamination 

Shilajit, whether raw or purified, has been evidenced to contain heavy metal ions, which can pose various short-term and long-term health issues related to heavy metal toxicity, including vomiting, stomach pains, nervous system, kidney and liver damage, and more. The consumption of products containing shilajit has been associated with lead, arsenic, and mercury poisoning in some cases

Fungal contaminants 

Shilajit can contain deadly fungal contaminants, like Aspergillus nigerAochraceous, and Trichothecium roseum, which when ingested turn into mycotoxins in the body. These can lead to various side-effects of varying severity including respiratory problems, skin irritation, gastrointestinal distress, and, in some serious cases, organ failure.


In an animal study from 2012, researchers gave rats shilajit in doses of 25mg to 100mg for 21 days, and then induced chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) by making the rats to swim 15 minutes for 21 consecutive days. The results cited that shilajit helped reduce the effects of CFS. Those conducting the study postulate that this was the result of shilajit supporting the prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction.

Free-radical contaminants 

Shilajit can become contaminated with external free radicals from the environment, processing, storage, and even packaging. Consuming shilajit that is contaminated with external free radicals can counteract its antioxidant properties, leading to increased oxidative stress and side effects like accelerated aging and increased risk of chronic diseases associated with inflammation.

Increased iron levels

Shilajit can increase iron levels in the blood significantly, as found in animal model studies. People with conditions such as hemochromatosis (a genetic condition that causes excess levels of iron in the blood) or chronic liver disease should avoid it.

Gastrointestinal issues

Shilajit can cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially when consumed in larger doses.

Interaction with medication

Shilajit can lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels and could be dangerous for those on medication for blood pressure or diabetes.

No clinically determined safe dosage

There is not enough scientific evidence to determine a standard or appropriate dose of shilajit. Studies investigating shilajit have used varying amounts, with the participants generally under medical supervision.


While there is promising data on the potential benefits associated with purified shilajit, due to scarcity, rarity, and difficulty harvesting, it is very hard and expensive to acquire genuine pure shilajit. Experts suggest that consumers intent on purchasing look out for a certificate of analysis and consider the whole testing and production process in general. But whether Himalayan pure shilajit is a miracle of the natural world or a toxic minefield still hinges on several factors, including industry regulations, the quality of the substance sourced, the purification process, further human clinical testing, as well as testing for dosage and its effect on humans. 

For now, we would warn users to be cautious when buying even purified shilajit due to the sheer rarity of the substance, as well as the fact that there is ample evidence that a large number of commercial shilajit products on the market contain unacceptable levels of heavy metals or are just plain fake; this has even led to the substance being banned in some popular US supermarket chains like Whole Foods Market. Until there is a level of standardization that meets pharmaceutical standards and stringent regulation on sourcing, the risk associated with consuming commercial shilajit products remains precariously high. 

FAQ: User Guide

Get more answers and insights on Shilajit before making your first purchase.

Is shijalit toxic and does it contain heavy metals?

There is ample evidence that both raw and purified commercial shilajit products on the market are contaminated with heavy metals and other contaminants. High iron content found in Shilajit may be toxic if consumed in high doses. There are limited human studies on the toxicity of Shilajit when used for long term, or at high doses. Currently the recommended dosage has not been established by any industry standards vis-à-vis the heavy metal content found in most commercial Shilajit products sold on Amazon.

Who should avoid taking shilajit?

We would caution against most people taking commercial shijalit until there is a better standardization for extracts and there is more regulation in terms of sourcing. 

Based on clinical evidence, users who are taking high blood pressure and diabetes medication should avoid Shilajit. Those with excess levels of iron in their blood, pregnant women, and minors should also avoid consuming shilajit. 

Can I take shilajit-Tongkat Ali supplements?

There are currently no studies on the safety of combining shilajit with Tongkat Ali in one supplement, so to be cautious we would recommend against taking both herbal supplements for testosterone or libido boost.

Is raw shilajit safe or better?

Raw shilajit should not be consumed in its unpurified and unprocessed form because it can be extremely toxic, with dangerous contaminants ranging from heavy metals to mycotoxins and free radicals. Purified Shilajit are deemed less toxic and safe by advocators, although there is lack of scientific evidence (or clinical studies) to back its toxicity and safety.

Can I take shilajit and Tongkat Ali together?

If you have purified shilajit from a reputable source, you can consider taking them both in small doses at separate times of the day, e.g. Tongkat Ali (morning) and purified shilajit (after lunch). There are no known adverse interactions for this combination. Standardized hot-water Tongkat Ali extract, in and of itself, is widely considered safe to take even at high doses (600mg per day) and suitable for long-term daily use, from 52 weeks to even 5 years.

How can I find genuine shilajit?

Experts suggest looking out for a certificate of analysis and to scrutinize the entire sourcing and production process. 

However, as there are no official regulatory standards on sourcing, production, or dosing, finding genuine purified shilajit will come down to luck as much as diligence.

What is the ideal dosage for shilajit?

There is not enough scientific data to determine an effective or ideal dose for Shilajit. Limited animal research studies have used doses ranging from 25mg, 50mg, 100mg, 250mg, 500mg, 2,500mg, and 5,000mg. Users should consult their nearest doctor or healthcare professional before consuming high doses of Shilajit more than 100mg per day.


Naressa Khan contributes regularly on AKARALI. As a researcher and investigative journalist, Naressa is all about creating, deconstructing, and reassembling meaningful content through words and facts. With this approach always in mind, she eagerly explores the nuances in life via the aspects of lifestyle, culture, travel, health, and wellness in Malaysia .

Our articles are third party reviewed by our panel of experts and medical advisors to ensure the facts are accurate and credible. These are validated against multiple source references which include but not limited to research studies, peer-reviewed journals, pre-clinical studies, clinical tests and other credible publications.

Our panel of medical advisors and experts are highly experienced in their individual fields. However, they do not provide any medical advice or recommendations arising from content published in this article.


The content published on this website is for educational purposes and should not be viewed, read, or seen as a prescription or constitute any form of medical advice. We recommend you consult your nearest GP or doctors before consuming Tongkat Ali or any products which contain Tongkat Ali. For further information, kindly refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information.

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