Traditional Indian medicine is full of wonders. Plant-based healing agents and herbo-minerals are being used to heal a variety of diseases since ancient times. Shilajit is one of them, a unique herbo-mineral preparation used for millennia around Asia and Europe. It is extensively used in India, Tibet, and Nepal to this day. In India alone, shilajit was used as a laxative, diuretic, immune booster, anti-hypertensive, analgesic, bronchitis, and anemia. With milk, it was thought to help with diabetes, and with the Commiphora wightii herb, it helped accelerate wound and bone healing. It was also used as an aphrodisiac and was claimed to help with infertility for women.
Hypertension is a common condition affecting a considerable number of the US population. When not treated, it can lead to life-threatening events like heart attack and stroke. Shilajit is claimed to be useful against hypertension. In fact, some companies in Asia have proprietary drugs containing shilajit indicated for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and maintenance of heart health. One other herbo preparations showed to have hypolipidemic effects in rats. Unfortunately, no scientific or clinical study specifically on the subject of hypertension is available. Does shilajit lower blood pressure or would shilajit increase blood pressure? Are there any shilajit benefits for blood pressure? In this article, we will piece together the many studies closely related to the subject to see if indeed, it there is a shed of truth to the claim. But first, a review!
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Known as the silent killer, high blood pressure is one of the leading conditions that increase the risk of stroke and heart attacks. According to a 2012 study, 1 out of 3 US citizens already have hypertension or at risk of developing it. In 2014 data, hypertension is said to be responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the US alone. What makes this condition dangerous is the lack of any visible signs and symptoms. You will only know you have it when you get your blood pressure checked.
Lifestyle factors contribute the most to its development. Unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyle, vices, all contribute to the genesis of this disease. Hereditary factors also play a role.
When not known early on, it will slowly damage the heart and the blood vessels as more pressure is being exerted on the arterial walls. Atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, and excess blood sugar all contribute to increased blood pressure. Damage to kidneys, liver, and brain will likely result when not managed properly.
“Mountain Blood,” as the Burmese call, and “Mountain Sweat” for the Arabs, shilajit is a unique herbo-mineral exudate from high altitude rock crevices predominantly found in the Himalayan mountain ranges. It is made of decomposed plant materials and animal metabolites, taking centuries, even thousands of years form. It is revered for its many therapeutic qualities; its use spans many countries throughout Asia and Europe and has been used extensively by Ayurvedic healers to this day. It is mentioned in ancient pharmacology books like the Charaka Samhita, a testament to its importance towards traditional Indian healing. Fulvic acid, dibenzo alpha pyrones, humic substance, and over 80 nutrients and minerals make this healing compound unique and beneficial to the body.
Shilajit and High Blood Pressure
Only one study using Daphnias was made to understand how shilajit affects heart-rate and to serve as a preliminary look towards its effect in high blood pressure. In said study, Daphnia’s were used because they react well to cardioactive drugs and are transparent, so monitoring heart rate is relatively easy. Their results showed a lowering effect on heart rate in low shilajit concentrations, but higher concentrations increased heart rate considerably.. The specific action is not yet understood.
There are no clinical studies that help support the notion that shilajit can lower or increase high blood pressure. Although proprietary drugs like Abana which is well researched and is considered to have shilajit, indicated as a hypotensive supplement, it is uncertain how shilajit plays a role since it also contains a few other herbs all known to help lower blood pressure levels. There are no studies that support it as a blood thinner as well. However, a few studies with relevance to the condition have been carried out and prove instructive in understanding whether or not; shilajit proffer any benefits for high blood pressure. And, so this article will discuss those studies and attempt to piece together their results to get to a conclusion.
Can shilajit cause high blood pressure?
Researchers from the Department of Biochemistry, SMS Medical College, in Jaipur, India, in collaboration with the National Institute of Ayurveda studied the effects of shilajit on blood chemistry. Their research is instructive on the subject.
Thirty students participated in the study, with 20 given 2 grams shilajit per day for 45 days. The rest received a placebo pill. No discernible changes towards blood pressure, pulse rate, and body weight were observed. They also found that it did not alter hematological parameters even at a dose as high as 2 grams per day. However, they noted decreased lipid profiles, indicative of a hypolipidemic and cardio-protective effect which will be discussed later.
Shilajit and high Blood pressure: Is there a lowering effect?
A study comparing Simvastatin and shilajit to see how effective they were for hyperlipidemia is instructive. Albino rats were given hyperlipidemia inducing diets, with different groups receiving shilajit and Simvastatin. Both results showed a reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Simvastatin showed more efficacy in upping HDL levels and lowering LDL. It is unknown how these substances are lowered or the mechanism behind it. The researchers opined that it is possible shilajit’s humic acids may induce an antiatherogenic effect meaning it may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. We will discuss later how these things are correlated.
Obesity and Hyperlipidemia
Another study involving shilajit and its effects on the lipid profile was conducted, but this time, with obese rats. The researchers found that a dose-dependent intake helped decreased the weight of the rats and improved lipid profiles, consistent with other studies.
Diabetes and Hypertension
Diabetes was induced in rats to see how shilajit affected blood glucose levels. Diabetes or elevated blood sugar increases the risk of developing hypertension. In all three doses, used (50, 100, and 200mg per day), a reduction in glucose levels was observed and consistent with the other studies, an improvement in lipid profile was duly noted.
Benefits of Shilajit For Blood Pressure
In all of these studies, one thing is certainly consistent. Shilajit may not decrease high blood pressure or increase it, but it does improve lipid profiles. This is important since elevated blood lipids may be correlated to the development of hypertension. Dyslipidemia is characterized by the elevation cholesterol, triglyceride, and other lipid components in the blood. Cholesterol attaches to the walls and the arteries forming plaque that stiffens and narrows it, and elevates blood pressure, and strains the heart to work harder. With LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides lowered, the risks of developing hypertension may be reduced.
The antioxidant activity of fulvic acid was also found to help maintain vitamin C and E at healthy levels in the blood which can prevent lipid peroxidation. It even increased the levels in the blood. Note: Only processed and purified shilajit contains powerful antioxidative properties.
The study on blood chemistry showed that shilajit does not increase or lower blood pressure, heart rate, and does not alter any blood components. This may suggest that shilajit may not increase blood pressure, nor lower it as well.
Obesity is closely linked to hypertension, as well. A person’s weight can harm the heart and the arteries. The result of the study suggests that shilajit may help weight reduction. Excess weight may increase the risk of developing hypertension, and dyslipidemia is heavily correlated in obesity.
Is Shilajit good for high blood pressure?
Until we have clinical studies supporting the use of shilajit to counter elevated blood pressure or hypertension, we can only deduce, for now at least, that it does not affect it. It has no lowering or increasing impact, and likely it has no effect if levels are normal.
However, it may be able to prevent or even control it by helping the body normalize blood lipid levels. No direct effect to hypertension can be seen but, shilajit may promote a healthy heart and arterial health by lowering lipid levels and improving HDL cholesterol. If these factors are normalized, the likelihood of hypertension and ultimately, stroke and cardiac disease will be lowered.
For now, further research is needed for a complete picture regarding shilajit’s effect against hypertension. Human clinical data is needed for this. And so, In conclusion:
- No clinical study nor data suggest that shilajit may lower or increase high blood pressure.
- Animal study and limited blood chemistry studies suggest that shilajit may help improve lipid profile by lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and improving HDL levels.