Siberian shamans and India’s Ayurvedic healers long ago recognized the value of shilajit and mumie, as a supreme healing food, and gave it an important place in their traditional systems of materia medicas (listings of natural healing substances). This made the demand for high-quality shilajit in India and neighboring regions quite high.
As populations grew, so did the demand. As a result, the available supply within India was seriously depleted over the centuries – to the point where today, the richest remaining sources lie outside of India, to the north – in the Altai Mountains, Mongolia, Tibet, Bhutan, and other Asian countries, and most imitation products, unfortunately, originate in India and Pakistan.
Also in response to rising demand and declining supply, a number of adulterated and “imitation” shilajit products have appeared, offered by unscrupulous suppliers as “authentic and pure.”
For example, some sellers have been found selling products labeled “pure” shilajit, which are actually shilajit (sometimes of questionable quality) mixed with clays, gums or powders of various kinds. Some have even added cow’s urine to their false preparations, to mimic authentic shilajit’s distinctive odor. Such practices might also be partially due to the difficulties of collecting native shilajit from the steep rock outcroppings where it is often found, the relatively small quantities available in any given area, and the lack of any official, established standards of content or purity.
Fortunately, modern researchers have developed methods for identifying true, pure mineral pitch resins (shilajit, mumie, and salajeet) and differentiating it from low-quality products and fraudulent substitutes. Nothing beats a laboratory test for authenticity, but due to cost, it is impractical. But a few simple home tests can help you determine whether you’re getting the real thing or a fraud.
One of the reasons it is so important to ensure you purchase and use only standardized and pure shilajit is the potential for side effects that can result from toxic impurities sometimes present in improperly prepared shilajit.
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