The Dangers of Shilajit

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Doctor speaking with patient in office. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Shilajit is a natural herb most known for its uses in Ayurveda. Ayurveda has been practiced in India for centuries, and many of its herbs and herbal remedies are used in alternative medical treatments around the world. While shilajit is believed to increase strength and stamina, as well as relieve anxiety and stress, research the benefits and drawbacks of using any natural herb for treatment of a variety of conditions.

Talk to your doctor about shilajit before using it for any condition, especially if you're currently taking prescribed medications.

Unproven Claims

Consumers should be aware that shilajit has not been proven to be effective in the treatment of conditions such as high blood pressure or the central nervous system for anxiety or stress, according to Robert Talbert of the California College of Ayurveda, though Shilajit is often used to treat such conditions. Shilajit has not been proven effective in treating respiratory conditions such as asthma, another common belief. The adaptogenic components of shilajit have been known to benefit some, though you should understand that if you've taken the herb for two months and haven't noticed any change in your health, you probably won't see any. Always talk to you doctor about dangers, efficacy and contraindications of natural herbs before use.

Shilajit has been purported to be an aphrodisiac, but few studies have been performed to verify this according to Dr. Ray Sahelian, nutrition expert, author and board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in family practice. Shilajit has not been proven for efficacy in human research scenarios, so always take with caution.

Adverse Reactions

While shilajit may be safely used by individuals in many cases, the herb may lower blood pressure in some. Individuals with any type of suspected or diagnosed heart conditions should talk to their doctor about taking shilajit to prevent a drop in blood pressure that may cause fainting, dizziness or falls, suggests Dr. Michael Hartman of the Sabinsa Corporation in Bangalore, India. Shilajit may also adversely affect diabetics for the same reason. A diabetic with low blood sugar levels may feel faint, weak, or unbalanced due to the effects of shilajit in the system.

Purity

Be aware that shilajit may contain impurities, depending on the country of origin, standards of health and regulations in that country, and training and professionalism of those preparing the herbal remedies. Some Ayurvedic herbs have been found to contain high levels of heavy metals, according to Health Canada and Medical News Today, warning that shilajit capsules manufactured by Dabur India Ltd. contain high amounts of lead and mercury, and in some cases, arsenic.

Shilajit should not be taken in raw or unprocessed form, warns the "International Journal of Ayurveda Research," as it may contain fungus growth such as Aspergillus niger and Trichothecium roseum. Some forms of shilajit may also contain high levels of free radicals, which could damage cells and cellular structures in the body.

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