If you are wondering which form of Shilajit is the best to take then you are not alone. Depending on who you ask, the answer is always going to be different, which is why we have created this complete guide on all forms of Shilajit. Educate yourself now on different forms of Shilajit, how they were influenced culturally and geographically, as well as the types you really want to avoid!
Shilajit can be an incredibly confusing subject, especially when it comes down to understanding which form of Shilajit is best. In actuality, there are multiple answers to this question depending on your unique needs, where you source it from, which culture's perspective you adopt and the methods that were used to process it from its raw form.
For the purpose of spreading accurate information on the topic, the differences between the best forms of Shilajit are discussed in detail below, from geographic origins to the form it comes in.
By Geographical Origin
Shilajit is typically found inside the cracks, crevices and caves of mountainous regions at high altitudes.
There are differences in trace mineral composition, purification methods, the way the substance formed and how it was classified, depending on where you source it from. In spite of these differences, all of these types have very similar properties in terms of delivering nutrients into your cells and bolstering your overall health and wellness.
The best quality Shilajit originates from the Altai and Himalayan ranges; both of which stand tall at impressive altitudes and are steeped in a rich cultural history that venerates this powerful supplement.
Altai Shilajit, Mumiyo
Altai Shilajit is locally called mumiyo, mumijo, mumie, myemu, momio or mummy, which means "to save or preserve the body".
It comes from the Altai Mountains, which span all the way from the West Siberian Plain to the Gobi Desert below Mongolia. The "Altai" Mountains translates to "Golden" Mountains in many of the languages spoken around the area. These mountains mostly border Siberia (Russia) and Mongolia, but also intersect with Kazakhstan and China.1
Some of the best Altai Shilajit is collected in Siberia where large portions of the mountain range on this side have been untouched by man. Mumiyo is usually collected at altitudes of between 10000 and 14000 ft. The highest point on the Altai lies at Belukha being 14783 ft.
When water flows through the mountains during the Summer months, mineral exudate from rocks dissolves into the water alongside many other organic substances and minerals. These enriched waters then seep into crevices or through the cracks of rock beds into mountainous caves. Eventually this evaporates, leaving behind raw Mumiyo in the form of crusts or deposits.
The composition of the mineral components of mumiyo spectral Analysis S. M. Katchenkova11:
|Elements %||North Ossetia||Zeravsanskin Range|
|Kurtat Gorge||Buron||Kislat sample 506||same sample, evaporated filtrate 506||Tangi-Kharsang gorge, sample 506,evaporated filtrate|
The local people of the Altai from all over caught on and started to use Mumijo as part of traditional medical practice. This raw form would be taken directly from the mountains and purified using the mountain streams. It is dissolved, kept at a low temperature and left to sit to allow the bigger particles to rise to the top before being drained off. It is then sieved through multiple sieves to remove any finer particles.
The last process is drying, which is nowadays usually done using modern technology to evaporate moisture from the Mumiyo at a controlled temperature. Depending on how much you evaporate or concentrate it, the end result is either a liquid, resin or powder.
Back in the day, a kind of glass structure would be used to seal the Mumie from air and left to sit in the sun till it was dried to the desirable consistency. These days that is very rare and time consuming, but is still carried out in villages where they don't have access to modern technologies.
Altai Shilajit or Mumiyo is slightly different than Himalayan Shilajit in terms of the altitude and mineral composition. It is considered a B grade Shilajit by some as it is collected at a slightly lower altitude. This may make it slightly less potent, requiring more for the same effects, however it is still regarded as one of the best Shilajit forms on the planet and in fact is far more commonly sold than Himalayan Shilajit. For the garden, pets, and those who require less this form of Shilajit is ideal.
Himalayan Shilajit, also known as Silajeet, Shilajeet, Silaras, or Shilajatu, is collected from the world famous Himalayan Mountains. The way Himalayan Shilajit is collected is virtually identical to the Altai way, with the differences being the altitude and the cultural perspective.
The Himalayan Mountain range lies directly south of the Altai mountains, bordering the Tibetan Plateau (China), Bhutan, Nepal, Northern India and Pakistan. The Himalayas are home to some of the highest mountains on the planet such as Mount Everest, which stands up to ±29000 ft at it's tallest point2. The Shilajit in the Himalayas is usually collected at between 16000 and 19000 ft.
Himalayan Shilajit has the strongest connection to Hindu mythology and the ancient Ayurvedic medical system. For more than 5000 years, this seemingly primordial substance has been venerated in various Indian, Vedic and Hindu texts, such as the Charaka Samhita and Sushrut Samhita; which formed the basis of Ayurveda and many Indian medical practices today. Shilajit was and still is one of the most important medicines in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani Tibetan medicine.
As in the Altai, Shilajit can be seen as a gummy exudate on the Himalayan mountains in the Summer months. The collection is much the same as there, except that Ayurvedic physicians would prepare the substance differently. It is also mixed with other medicines to enhance their efficacy.
There are many different methods for purifying Shilajit the Ayurvedic way3. The most common traditional methods involve the use of boiling the Shilajit, sometimes with other medicinal herbs such as Triphala or Moringa seeds4.
Boiling the Shilajit is not the best way to handle it as it cooks out a lot of the nutrients. Scientists looking at commercial Indian Shilajit preparations have confirmed this fact, stating that mostly calcium, potassium, magnesium and a few other minerals are all that remains left.
Nowadays, modern technology has largely replaced the old traditional methods and much of it is processed under carefully controlled conditions. There are a few good suppliers of Himalayan Shilajit who do not over heat it in the best attempt to maintain it's legendary potency. If not boiled, this is the best form of Shilajit to get as it is collected from the highest altitudes.
What About the Type of Shilajit?
Himalayan Shilajit is further divided into four more types according to Ayurveda, which some people have mistakenly confused for a Shilajit grading system. When you see gold/red Shilajit or black Shilajit anywhere, they are not referring to the color of the substance, but rather to the ores that the Shilajit was collected from. This "speciation" strictly only applies to Himalayan Shilajit.
There are four different categories: black (iron), gold (red), silver (white) and copper (blue). Shilajit that comes from one of these different ores contains an incredibly small amount extra of that ore's minerals. Gold and copper are supposed to be the rarest to find, with black being the most commonly available.
Ayurvedic doctors claim that different types of Shilajit help different areas of the body, however the research currently shows conflicting evidence over this debate5,6. Half will vouch that Gold and Copper7 are the best while the other half will say that black7 is. Either way, they all produce desirable health effects!
Ultimately, all pure Shilajit is mineral rich and good for your health.
The amounts imparted from these mountain ores seem too small to make much of a difference. If you feel they do make a difference, then the best way is to try out different kinds until you find one that works best for you, as the science remains unclear of which types work best for whom.
Other Regions with Shilajit
You might be surprised to know that you can obtain different varieties of Shilajit from nearly every part of the world that has very high mountains - even in Antarctica8!
There are also reports of types originating from Japan, South Africa/Lesotho, Europe, China, Australia9, Afghanistan, and various South American countries such as Chile10and Venezuela through the Andes Mountains.
Unfortunately, Antarctic mumiyo and the types from other regions of the world are not easily available to us and have only been used by traditional natives or studied by scientists.
To avoid counterfeits, it is best to choose Shilajit that is of either Altai or Himalayan origin as there is too little information on Shilajit from other areas of the world at this point.
Fake Shilajit "Types" That Still Confuse People Today
When it was first discovered, many people came up with different theories of what this amazing substance is and where it came from. Everything from fossilized honey to petroleum deposits were at one time believed to be the origin of Shilajit and some of these ideas still misinform society today, leading people to sell false Shilajit.
Here are two misconceptions in particular to be wary of:
#1 Ozokerite, Bitumen or Mineral wax
Shilajit is not a form of bitumen, mineral pitch, earth or mineral wax, neither is it the mineral rock known as ozokerite. Unlike all these natural products, Shilajit is not petroleum based or derived nor is the mineral composition the same in any way. Mumiyo also has many other compounds that are organic and plant derived, such as vitamins, plant polyphenols and more.
#2 Brakshun, White Altai Shilajit or Karpura Shilajit
When people first caught on to Shilajit, the term was adopted for a wide variety of substances that were and are still being used in folk remedies today - but not all of them are desirable!!
One of these instances is a substance made from fossilized animal dung which is called Brakshun12. The Indians also have a name for Brakshun, classifying it as another type of Shilajit known as Karpura Shilajit11. Brakshun is white or yellowish off white in color, only takes 50-75 years to mature and is commonly marketed as 'White Altai Shilajit.' Although this substance may have benefits, it is not the same thing as Shilajit or Mumijo and should never be mistaken for the real deal.
Shilajit By Form
Shilajit as a finished end product can come either as a liquid, resin, powder, tablets or capsules depending on how much moisture was removed during processing. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of each form as well as which one is best!
Shilajit resin looks like a smooth, waxy paste that is typically black or very dark brown in color. In the palm of your hand, it should get sticky; while if it was kept in the fridge, it should become brittle and be able to snap. People enjoy dissolving this form into warm water or a warm beverage.
shilajit resin is the most common shilajit type selling in USA and Europe
Shilajit resin benefits include being purer as it undergoes minimal processing and being easier to handle than say the powder form. It is more common to find Altai Shilajit resin than the Himalayan type, which is generally solid Shilajit marketed as a resin. Shilajit resin is slightly wetter and less concentrated than solid Shilajit.
- Has a strong flavor.
- There's a wait time while you dissolve it in warm water.
Liquid Shilajit resembles a darker, shinier version of hemp oil, having the consistency of a semi-thick fluid. If you store it correctly, a liquid Shilajit extract is easy to use and can be taken directly as is or added to your favorite drinks - hot or cold!
some people confuse liquid shilajit with shilajit resin however those forms are different because liquid shilajit is thinner and less processed
This is the freshest possible Shilajit that you can get, being packaged and sold directly after basic extraction and filtration. Only a little bit of gentile evaporation was used to get the concentration of this Shilajit extract to be around 50%. What this means is that most of the natural enzymes, minerals and vitalizing plant nutrients are still in tact compared to other forms.
- Has a strong flavor.
- Requires extra careful storage and refrigeration for best results.
- Not as easy to travel with as other forms.
- Is generally the most expensive.
Solid Shilajit looks very similar to Shilajit resin, but it is actually thicker, more concentrated and has less of a sheen when hard. As with Shilajit resin, it should harden in the fridge and soften in the palm of your hand. It is commonly dissolved in warm water or beverages, but many people also enjoy letting a small amount dissolve under the tongue.
ayurvedic solid shilajit. photo: pranav bhasin
This is the classic form of Shilajit as used in Ayurvedic tradition. It is slightly more processed than the resin form as it is dried out for longer or occasionally at undesirably high temperatures to get the end result. Nevertheless, this is a very stable form of Shilajit with some of the highest concentration of minerals, assuming it was not boiled up front.
- Has a strong flavor.
- There's a wait time while it dissolves.
Shilajit powder comes in many shades of brown, back or amber. This form of Shilajit has undergone another degree of refinement such as freeze drying to make it a powder. Some people prefer to use the powder form for dissolving in water or adding to their favorite cold drinks, like smoothies.
high quality shilajit powder has dark brown color
In reality, it's truly difficult to find a reliable source of Shilajit powder. 95% of all the powder available is either poorly made through being overly heated or it is actually a counterfeit product made by throwing together some humic substances, minerals and fulvic acid. This is another reason why Shilajit powder also tends to be a cheaper option, even though logically it should be more expensive as it takes more resources to produce.
In spite of this, a well made Shilajit powder is more concentrated than solid Shilajit and has other useful applications such as easily mixing it into yoghurt, smoothies, ointments, etc.
To test if your powder is authentic, take a small amount and leave it out, exposed to air. It should solidify within 1-3 days. Also, like all other forms of Shilajit, it should readily dissolve in water leaving no particles or sediment behind. Don't take it if the color of the water is too black, white or bright orange - it should always be a brown color if you use small amounts to assess.
- Has a strong flavor.
- Easier to make a mess with.
- Could be overheated during processing.
Shilajit Tablets / Drops
Shilajit tablets are essentially made from Shilajit powder where the powder is pressed into the form of a tablet. These should look black-brown in color and are easier for some people to swallow. The dosage is also pre-worked out with no measuring required.
Shilajit 'drops' are another type of tablet where solid Shilajit has been measured out and pressed into little pills ready for consumption. This is the best type of Shilajit tablet as it is a stable concentrate, just like solid Shilajit.
- May contain binders and fillers.
- Takes a longer time to digest if it contains binders and fillers.
- Could be overheated during processing.
Shilajit capsules generally use the powdered form inside a capsule that can be of any shape, size or color. This type of Shilajit is not the best, as it is once again difficult to find an authentic supplier that uses good grade powders without adding binders and filler agents. The capsule containing the powder itself detracts as well from the quality of the end product.
- Contains binders and fillers.
- Takes a longer time to digest.
- May have been overheated during processing.
Why Liquid Shilajit Wins
We believe Liquid Shilajit is the best form to get Shilajit in as it is the purest product with the least refinement. It's also easier to handle with the least wait time and possesses the highest absorbability in both the gut and sublingually to the brain. Depending on your needs however, the other forms may be a better suited choice.