Ayurveda history of shilajit
Shilajit is considered one of the wonder medicines of Ayurveda. Neither a plant nor animal substance, it is a mineral pitch that oozes from the rocks of the Altay mountains(and other mountain ranges), as they become warm in the summer months. Shilajit is an important drug of the ancient Hindu material medica and is to this day used extensively by the Hindu physicians for a variety of diseases. Early ayurvedic writings from the Caraka Samhita and Susruta Samhita describe shilajit as a cure for all disease as well as a rasayana (rejuvenative) able to increasing longevity from 100 to 1000 years of age. Traditional uses primarily focus on diabetes and diseases of the urinary tract, but also include edema, tumors, wasting, epilepsy and even insanity. Shilajit is a blackish-brown exudation, of variable consistency, obtained from steep rocks of different formations found in the mountains of Altay at altitudes between 1000 to 5000 meter as well as from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Kashmir in the West. It is also found in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, China, Tibet ,Tien-Shan, Ural and Caucasus
- The Charaka Samhita states that, “Stones of metal like gold etc., in the mountains get heated up by the sun and the exudates that comes out of them in the form of smooth and clean gum is called çiläjatu”. The Charaka Samhita states that there are four types based on stones of four types of metals from which it exudes: gold, silver, copper and black iron. The shilajit from the last type is the best. There are several varieties of the substance, of which the black color has the main therapeutic properties. The Caraka Samhita discusses shilajit in a chapter on rejuvenation therapy (rasayana), now known as an adaptogen. The Caraka Samhita states that there is no curable disease in the universe, which is not effectively cured by shilajit when it is administered at the appropriate time, in combination with suitable drugs and by adopting the prescribed method. When administered to a healthy person, with similar conditions it produces immense energy.
- The Sushruta Samhita states that “A gelatinous substance that is secreted from the side of the mountains when they have become heated by the rays of the sun in the months of Jyaishta and Ashadha. This substance is what is know as Çilájatu and it cures all distempers of the body.” The Sushruta Samhita states that there are six types based on their origins (shad-yoni). In addition to the four types listed above he added tin and lead. Each type has the same taste (rasa) and potency (virya) as the metal to whose essence it owes its origin. In the Sushruta Samhita, it is noted that there is no bodily distemper, which does not yield to shilajit’s highly curative virtues. When gradually taken, (in adequate doses) it tends to improve the strength and complexion of the body.
- Folk Tradition – Some tribal villagers, who were observing white monkeys migrating to the higher mountains in summer months, made the discovery of shilajit. The monkeys were observed to lick the semi-solid substance exuding out the rock crevices. Since observing the animal behaviors were an important part of healthcare research in ancient times, those villagers attributed the great strength, longevity and wisdom of those monkeys to this substance. Curious by the thought, they themselves started taking the substance and reported a broad spectrum of improvement in their health and stamina. It gave them more energy, relieve digestive problems, increase sex drive, improve to memory etc., with the passage of the time traditional health practitioners established the methods to purify the substance.