Daily supplements of purified Shilajit, an Ayurvedic ingredient, may boost testosterone levels in healthy men by 20%, says a new study.
Shilajit, a herbo-mineral exudate, is derived from mountainous regions across Asia. It is also called mumijo. Ninety days of supplementation with purified Shilajit were associated with a 20% increase in total testosterone and a 19% increase in free testosterone levels, according to findings published in Andrologia .
Safety and efficacy
Sidney Stohs, PhD, Dean Emeritus at the Creighton University Medical Center in Nebraska, reviewed the scientific literature around Shilajit in 2014 in Phytotherapy Research (Vol. 28, pp. 475-9), and noted that: “The physiological and pharmacological effects of shilajit are attributed to the [dibenzo-alpha-pyrones] DBPs, DBP chromoproteins (DBPs conjugated to proteins), fulvic acid, and various polymeric forms of fulvic acid.
“In spite of the use of shilajit (mumijo, mumie) for many years, relatively few peer-reviewed, human, controlled, and published research studies have been conducted,” noted Dr Stohs. “Studies in both animals and humans indicate that the use of shilajit is safe and generally free of adverse effects. Published human and animal studies have indicated that shilajit increases spermatogenesis in infertile males. A human study demonstrated that shilajit when given at high (2000 mg/day) doses has beneficial effects with respect to blood lipids.
“It should [also] be noted that a plethora of products exist on the market that do not conform to the chemical composition of ‘standard’ shilajit and may be either adulterated or counterfeit, which are both very common” wrote Dr Stohs. “As a consequence, caution must be taken with respect to shilajit acquisition, and only properly processed, authenticated and standardized products should be used. A need exists for further studies in animals and humans with processed and standardized shilajit preparations.”
The researchers recruited 75 healthy men aged between 45 and 55 to participate in their randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. The men were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 500 mg of Shilajit per day for 90 days. The Shilajit was standardised to contain not less than 60% w/w of total bioactives, which include not less than 50% w/w of fulvic acids, not less than 0.3% w/w of dibenzo-alpha pyrones (DBPs) and not less than 10% w/w of dibenzo-alpha pyrone chromoproteins (DCPs).
Results showed that supplementation with this Shilajit lead to a 20% increase in total testosterone levels and a 19% increase in free testosterone levels after 90 days.
“The significant betterment of DHEAs [the main precursor of testosterone] with the treatment of purified Shilajit signifies its role on testosterone synthesis,” they wrote. “Other two gonadotropic hormones, viz. luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)], were studied in this present work, to rationalize the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis, where both of these hormones were in maintained levels indicating their initial role of triggering of testosterone production. This was followed by downregulation of LH and FSH on one hand and maintenance of the hypothalamo-pituitary–testicular axis by means of elevated level of testosterone on 30, 60 and 90 days on the other hand.
“All these modus operandi of purified Shilajit on synthesis and stimulation of testosterone are found to be better than placebo-treated group in healthy male volunteers in age group of 45–55 years, who may undergo andropause in normal course.”
Sexual health category
Dr Kalidindi told us that the male sexual health supplement industry is growing as the baby boomer generation is now reaching retirement age. “More older adult males are turning to nutritional supplements to support and maintain their lifestyles. According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the natural supplement market for promoting sexual health products is poised to reach an estimated worth of $905 million by 2020.”
While the sexual health market has received a lot of attention from the regulators, it is not the only category to have suffered from criticism, said Dr Kalidindi.
“Solid science is critical in every category of the dietary supplement industry especially after what happened with the NYAG. Natreon, the company that supplied the Shilajit used in the study has achieved a reputation within the industry as a company that backs up every ingredient with multiple efficacy and safety studies.”
More details about Shilajit, its history, background and a comparison of 25 commercially available Shilajit resins (including authenticity, quality/safety control and active ingredients) can be found here.