Online First

2021 : Volume 1, Issue 2

Review on Shilajit Used in Pakistani Traditional Medicine

Author(s) : Zahida Yaqoob 1 , Iqra Iqbal 1 and Mohsin Ali Raza 1

1 Faculty of Chemical and Material Engineering , University of the Punjab , Pakistan

Mod J Med Biol

Article Type : Review Article


Shilajit contains a blackish-brown exudation and mineral-rich complex organic compound. Its source can be obtained from mountainous ranges of the world, where the hilly tribes first identified its beneficial use such as Himalayan region from Gilgit to Skardu in Pakistan. This review article focuses on the potential applications of shilajit used in Pakistan’s traditional medicine. The major physiological action of shilajit has been attributed to the presence of bioactive dibenzo-α-pyrones (DBPs) along with fulvic acids (FA) and humic acid (HA), which act as carrier molecules for the active ingredients. For many years, shilajit is extensively used as a part of ayurvedic drug for the treatment of various ailments such as anemia, viral infection, diabetes, wound healing, liver disability and allergic disorders. Also, shilajit can settle the body’s immune system because it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Keywords: Shilajit; Herbomineral Drug; Fulvic Acid; Traditional Medicine


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 80% of the earth’s inhabitants rely on traditional medicine to prevent illnesses [1]. However, the emerging research is being conducted worldwide with respect to plant-based medicines neglecting the mineral and animal-based medicines [2]. This paper explains the unique properties of mineral, shilajit. It is widely used as a natural mineral and herbomineral drug which contains a large amount of fulvic acid (FA), and mineral constituents [3]. Shilajit is a main source of HA and fulvic acid which is extracted from various mountain ranges especially the Northern areas and Himalayas hills of Pakistan, which is widely used as a natural mineral and herbomineral drug [4]. It is used in traditional systems of medicine in many countries including Pakistan. Currently, shilajit is being considered as a ‘treasure of country’ and warned to be exported from the Soviet Union. Shilajit possesses the ability to resorb tumours and pimples reported in Avicenna in Canon Medicinae [5]. Shilajit derived from Sanskrit words meaning “Destroyer of weakness and conqueror of mountains” and ‘Winner of rocks. In other terms it is known as “Mountain sweat” “mountain blood”-rock juice” etc. [6]. Shilajit comes out of the mountains in the form of clean, sticky and smooth gum which is a pale-brown to blackish-brown exudate in the summer [7, 8]. Shilajit is not a rock, but a complex mixture of organic humic substances, humic nature, microbial metabolites and plants, which are found in the rock rhizosphere [9]. Shilajit prevents ailments, and enhances the quality of life. It plays a crucial role with rapidly increasing economic value in the medicine of the former Soviet Union, traditional Indian and Pakistani medicine and Tibetan pharmacology. 

Chemical Compositions
Shilajit is composed of organic plant materials and humus that have been compressed by layers of rocks [9]. It contains dibenzo α-pyrones (DBPs) and related metabolites, humus consists of 60-80% organic matter, humic acid, small peptides, some lipid, amino acids, uronic acids, phenolic glucosides, and fulvic acid. The fulvic acid in shilajit has evoked great interest. Fulvic acid is the type of humic acid. Humic substances are the major organic constituents of soil. Fulvic acids are poly-electrolytes, having the distinct property to diffuse easily through membrane. This property of fulvic acid is important as a nutrient because they easily penetrate through the thick cell wall and transport the nutrients [3,10]. The structure of shilajit is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Molecular structure of Shilajit.

Mechanism of Action

Shilajit holds active organic molecules such as fulvic acid along with minerals (in their ionic forms). Shilajit and its main components are illustrated in Figure 2. The fulvic acid assists in the transportation of these minerals into cell for resorting and maintaining their electrical potency, which prevents their decay or death. Shilajit helps in metabolism thus encourages energy production in the body. It sustains equilibrium of catabolism and anabolism, intensifies the absorptive and detoxifying capacity of the body, and stimulates the immune system and blood formation in the body [6].

Extraction of Humic Acids From Shilajit

First, to remove the oxygenated dibenzo-α-pyrones, finely powdered shilajit was extracted with 500 ml each of hot organic solvents of increasing polarity such as methanol, chloroform, and ethyl acetate. Second, the extracted shilajit was taken and dispersed in 0.10 M aqueous sodium hydroxide at room temperature for 24 h with intermittent shaking. Third, the suspension was filtered to remove humin (insoluble in water at all pH values) and the filtrate was acidified with dilute HCl to a pH of less than three. Fourth, the solution was kept at room temperature. Finally, the humic acid, which separated out as a solidify, was filtered, dried and pulverized [4].

Dose and Drug Delivery

hilajit is widely used as ayuverdic medicine [6]. Shilajit powder used with milk twice a day will ensure therapeutic efficacy and optimal bloods level. A shilajit dose of 300-500 mg/day is the recommended dose of shilajit for the maintenance of optimal health [11,12]. After 24 h of consumption of shilajit, it metabolized gradually and achieves maximum level in the blood.

Biomedical Applications of Shilajit

Shilajit has been used as traditional medicine to relieve many diseases and to improve the quality of life for long time [13]. It can have many biomedical applications as shown in Figure 3. In the human system, fulvic acid acts as carrier molecules, which removes deep-seated toxins from the body, and helps in transportations of nutrients into deep tissues. The fulvic acid stimulates energy production, blood formation, prevents hypoxia and cold exposure [14,15]. It also helps to overcome tiredness, chronic fatigue, and lethargy [14,16]. It also works as antistress agent, adaptogen, nervous systems, gastric, and a tonic for cardiac [17]. Fulvic acid helps in the absorption of iron into the body, making it available to bone morrow stems cells for blood formation. Shilajit is very helpful in improving the immunity of the body. It also helps in oxygen carrying capacity of blood because it improves blood circulation and diffusion into the tissues. In the human body, it can maintain the necessary oxygen levels during hypoxia [18].



Figure 2: Shilajit and its main components.



Figure 3: Shilajit and its potential application in medicine.

Antiviral Activity

Shilajit is enriched with both immunopotentiating [5,19] and viral load reducing properties [20,21]. The in vitro evaluation of antiviral activity of shilajit against a panel of viruses including human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), human rotavirus (HRV), and herpes simplex type 1 and 2 (HSV-1, and HSV-2) , as they encompass a range of viral characteristics, these viruses were selected including the presence or absence of a lipid envelope, different forms of genome (DNA or RNA), and different tissue/organ tropisms has been reported previously [21].

Immuno-Modulatory Activity

Shilajit extract increased the white blood cell. Shilajit as an immunomodulatory agent, acted as cell growth factors in both normal and tumor cell by maintaining the membrane activity. The observed activity increased as the dosage of shilajit extract and time of exposure was increased [5].

Antioxidant Activity

The antioxidant of shilajit can compare with unprocessed or raw shilajit and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Processed shilajit is purified form, which revealed sufficient antioxidant activity of itself, and had the ability to recycle ascorbic acid after it had neutralized free radicles. The dihydroxybenzo- α-pyrones in shilajit caused regeneration of ascorbic acid. However, the unprocessed shilajit did not frequently exhibit the antioxidant activity because it contains a sufficient amount of free radicals and has been found to be contaminated with different fungal organisms [22]. Processed shilajit was also observed for its ability to neutralize sulphite anion, nitric oxide, and hydroxy free radicals. Processed shilajit fastidiously trapped nitric oxide free radicles. Higher concentrations of processed shilajit provided greater free radical protection. Thus, the antioxidant effects were concentration dependent [22,23].

Antidiabetic Activity

Shilajit (50 & 100 mg/kg, p.o) had no discernible per effect on blood glucose levels in normal rats but reduced the hyperglycemic response of STZ [24]. The effect of shilajit and its main active constituents fulvic acid, 4-methoxy-6-carbomethoxybiphenyl and 3,8-dihydroxy-dibenzo-α-pyrone was studied in relation to the degranulation and disruption of mast cell against pernicious stimuli. Shilajit and its active constituents facilitated significant protection to antigen-induced degranulation of sensitized mast cells, markedly inhibited the antigen induced spasm of sensitized guinea-pig ileum and prevented mast cell disruption [25]. Hence, these findings are consistent with the therapeutic use of shilajit in the treatment of allergic disorders. Shilajit is an important drug in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that helps in the digestion and absorption of food. Shilajit inhibited lipid peroxidation induced by cumen hydroperoxide and PDP/Fe++ complex in a dose dependent reduced glutathione content and inhibited ongoing lipid peroxidation, induced by these agents immediately after addition to the incubation system [26]. Shilajit increased the carbohydrate/ protein ratio and decreased gastric ulcer index, indicating an increased mucus barrier. In duodenal ulcers also, shilajit pretreatment significantly reduced the incidence of ulcers by crysteamine in rats and histamine in guinea pigs [27]. The processed shilajit and its active constituents (total ethyl acetate fraction and fulvic acids) significantly increased memory retention and learning acquisition in old albino rats [28].


Shilajit is a herbomineral drug with unique properties and is capable of treating all kinds of body ailments. Also, it has been used as traditional medicine by humans for treatment of human diabetes, immune, nervous, cardiac, performance enhancer, and digestive disorders [29]. Hence, shilajit is tagged as traditional Ayurvedic medicine that has attracted the common man at large in Pakistan.

Conflicts of Interests
 All authors declare no conflict

The authors would like to thanks the Advance Materials and Research (AMR) lab for providing research work.


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Corresponding Author: Dr. Zahida Begum, Institute of Metallurgy and Material Engineering, Faculty of Chemical and Material Engineering, University of the Punjab Lahore, Pakistan.

Copyright: © 2021 All copyrights are reserved by Zahida Begum, published by Coalesce Research Group. This This work is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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