image representing pure himalayan shilajit source

Raw Shilajit Beckons Me to the Himalayas

Sep 05, 2013

In my last post about shilajit, I shared how I learned of shilajit and became intrigued, even obsessed, with finding the highest quality source in the high-altitude Himalayas of India. Here is more of my story on the journey.

A Return to India

Image representing raw shilajit found in the HimalaysI returned to India and spent nine months visiting the most famous Ayurvedic doctors in an attempt to locate this precious, but elusive mineral supplement. Every doctor told me virtually the same thing the yogi had told me. That authentic shilajit was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.

I then met Dr. Sanghvi in Gujarat (western India) who was extremely knowledgeable about shilajit and its uses. He explained to me that there are four different grades of shilajit and a fifth grade which is made from the feces of rodents who eat shilajit, but is considered useless. Only the highest grade (Gold Grade) was considered to have the potency and power that shilajit is so famous for. He also told me that the other lower grades may or may not have some nutritional value but that they needed to be formulated with specific herbs for specific imbalances. Gold grade shilajit can be used daily as a rasayana (rejuvenation substance).

Five Types of Shilajit

He warned me that when purified, all 5 types of shilajit will look virtually the same, a black gooey resin, and in order to be sure I was getting the highest grade I needed to see the type of rock it was in. The highest grade comes from a rock that is red and gold in color while the lower grades come from black, grey and brown rocks. I asked Dr. Sanghvi where I could buy some of this high grade shilajit and he told me that if I really wanted to obtain it I would have to travel high into the Himalayas and search the areas where it comes from. He echoed everything I had heard from others about shilajit’s scarcity and the difficulty in finding a pure and high quality source.

Raw Shilajit of a Single Quality

He also warned me not to buy from vendors or wholesalers in India as they were untrustworthy. He explained that many companies extract minerals from soil with solvents and then mix it with fulvic acid from fertilizer in order to create a “standardized extract” powder that they call shilajit, but in fact bears no resemblance to the real thing. Dr. Sanghvi pulled out a map to show me the areas that I should travel to in order to find people who collected gold grade shilajit. The only problem was that these were some of the highest altitudes and most remote, dangerous places on earth. They were dangerous not only because of unkept, sometimes non-existent roads, high drop-offs, and washouts that wipe out passages, but also because of political concerns. In some cases, these places were in sensitive border areas that were closed off to foreigners.

johann helf on motorcycle in search of shilajit in the himalayasMy obsession for finding this substance overruled any concern for my safety. I decided to buy a classic motorcycle and travel through these areas in search of shilajit! Have you ever had a passion that stopped you from even thinking about what you might be setting yourself up for? I hope not, because although a romantic notion, as you will see in future posts, the way is not paved and easy. Nor predictable.

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