Men have a lot of options for treating erectile dysfunction (ED) – unfortunately, not all are well proven.
One option you may have heard of is Shilajit, an Ayurvedic herbal supplement. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical system that combines supplements, special diets, and lifestyle changes to achieve health. Ayurveda is a pseudoscience because many of its claims are not scientifically proven.
In this article we’ll learn about shilajit, how it’s used for ED and if it’s a good idea to try it.
What is shilajit?
Shilajit has been used in India and Nepal as a rasayana (rejuvenating) treatment. It’s a natural substance formed over centuries from plant decomposition in the Himalayan mountains.
The main ingredients are humic substances, including fulvic acid, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains minerals such as selenium and is well absorbed in the body.
There are several types of Shilajit that range from a black-brown resin to white and red varieties. The most common type- Gomuthira Shilajit– is classified by the type of metal ore it’s extracted from and include gold, silver, copper, and iron varieties.
Shilajit has been used for athletisicm, Alzheimer’s disease, Diabetes, and ED. Yet, there are only a few research studies looking at its benefits, and the results are far from conclusive.
Can shilajit cure ED?
No, shilajit cannot cure ED. Some small studies suggest shilajit boosts sperm counts in men with infertility and raise testosterone levels in healthy men. However, research looking directly at ED and shilajit are few and primarily rely on results in animals.
One study in rats showed that shilajit activates the parasympathetic nervous (or the “rest and digest”) system that is turned on during sex and increased function of the corpora cavernosa, the erectile tissue of the penis.
The combination of antioxidant effects, a possible boost in testosterone levels and parasympathetic nervous system activity are some reasons that shilajit is treated as an aphrodisiac.
How to use shilajit for erectile dysfunction?
Currently, shilajit is sold as a health supplement in the West. You may find it as a powder, pills, creams or a dark brown-black sticky substance that is mixed with water or milk.
Despite its many forms, there is no set rule on how to take shilajit, since it is not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Shilajit dosage for erectile dysfunction
Since its not approved to be used for ED, there isn’t a recommended dose. The dose is up to the local Ayurvedic practitioner or is based on small studies that have not been replicated for safety.
More research is needed to determine not only if shilajit works for ED, but also the best dose to take.
Do we know how long it is supposed to take shilajit to work for ED?
We also don’t know how long it takes for shilajit to work for ED. Traditionally, shilajit is taken daily, but it’s unclear if- or when- it may have any effect on sexual function.
Shilajit side effects
Shilajit cannot be taken raw since it is naturally formed with heavy metals, mycotoxins and free radicals. Even after processing, there may still be high levels of harmful contaminants including lead, arsenic and mercury.
Since Shilajit and other herbal supplements are unregulated by the FDA, it’s up to individual manufacturers to test for contaminants, leading to a wide variety in quality. You can check for certification by TruLabel Program or other organizations that monitor supplement safety.
Talk with your doctor or dietician before taking any supplements since they may have side effects and interact with other medicines you are taking.
How should I treat erectile dysfunction?
ED is a multifaceted issue with many causes. Men may have health problems, blood flow problems, performance anxiety or life stressors causing ED. That’s why it’s unlikely that a single approach will be effective for every man.
Treat ED with the root cause in mind.
For men with health problems, that may mean lifestyle changes like healthy eating, exercising and medicines for the underlying health issue.
For men with blood flow issues, ED pills like Viagra and Cialis may help.
Men should also have an open and honest dialogue with their sexual partners (or, if single, with themselves) to let go of any shame or sadness associated with ED.
Shilajit has been around for centuries, but that doesn’t mean it is your best option for dealing with ED. It’s not backed by science, and it can have significant side effects because of contaminants. A single supplement is unlikely to fix ED; rather it’s best to take a holistic approach and get to the underlying cause to break free from ED.