Most fake products nowadays come from India and Pakistan. Ayurvedic practitioners pioneered the use of Shilajit and used it almost as a panacea with all the herbal formulations used in healing practices. Charaka Samhita is a foundational text in Ayurveda. It clearly identifies mineral pitch resin (Shilajit) as a supreme healing substance. The same text states that no health condition can be addressed without the use of Shilajit. The resin is viewed as an ultimate rasayana or rejuvenator.
Thousands of years of demand of highly populated India and Pakistan created a situation, where once most abundant reserves of mineral pitch in the Himalayas were exhausted. The manufacturing response to this situation was an introduction of imitation Shilajit to Indian and Pakistani markets. Eventually, fabrications found their way outside of India and Pakistan into the world markets and North America.
There are other countries which trail India and Pakistan in forgeries. Among those are all republics of former Soviet Union, Mongolia and other countries of Central Asia.
There are three types of imitation products currently actively sold in the US it is; powders, tinctures and resins. Powders are the most prevalent type of fabricated products, followed by tinctures and than resins. In this article we shall attempt to look into each type of counterfeits, and explain how they are made and the rationale of counterfeiters.
Powdered counterfeits are the easiest and most profitable to make. Raw material for these forgeries is as a rule a simple soil. It is cheap to obtain and process into powder, add excipients and chemical markers. On the marketing end, it can always be sold as “Shilajit” with high fulvic acid content. The rationale of counterfeiters is to manufacture something fairly harmless at the price of few dollars per kilo and sell it for hundreds of dollars per kilo. The other reason powders are so popular is because it is easy to either “hide” any chemical substances in them or “conceal” the powder in any supplement without accountability. Uneducated consumer readily accepts powders due to their convenience. Powders can be dissolved faster in water, unlike genuine Shilajit, one can hide the smell by encapsulation, and they are much cheaper then genuine mineral pitch (a.k.a. Shilajit, Mumie, Salajeet, etc.). Profit margins are the highest for powders, so a skillful marketer can always rely on a placebo effect to sell an imitation “Shilajit”.
We’ll talk discuss in detail how powdered imitations and made in following articles. Even though that it is only a highly qualified lab which can establish authenticity of Shilajit, we shall give our readers the basic tools of how to spot a forgery.
Forgeries-Herbal and Liquid formulations.
Liquid forgeries sold as tinctures are “extensions” of powdered or resin imitation products. As a rule and manufacturer of the extract will be “extracting” a powdered or resin imitation and will make it into a tincture. Such tincture similar to powdered imitations can be combined with various herbal extracts. The marketer of such product will usually market as a convenient option to resins and powders. In reality, the end consumer will never know without transparent documentation, which substance was used in such a tincture. It is easy to “hide” the true nature of an ingredient in a liquid extraction. The end consumer without access to a high end laboratory will never figure out if a genuine or fake Shilajit was used.
Tincturing genuine resin is possible. An ethical manufacturer if producing such a tincture, will provide a full disclosure of pertinent to the resin used. One will feature a detailed certificate of analysis for the resin used to make such a tincture.
Resin imitations are the most sophisticated forgeries on the market. They are made in the form of genuine mineral pitch resins therefore do not raise immediate “red flags” the way powdered, and tincture counterfeits do. They are harder to analyze chemically and take up highly resource intensive procedures in the lab.
Almost all counterfeited resins will have some authentic resin mixed in (Shilajit, Mumie or Salajeet), which makes it almost impossible to an inexperienced consumer to establish if the resin is genuine or fake.
Ironically, fabricated resins are the smallest part of the total counterfeit market because they resemble genuine resins so much. Counterfeited resins directly infringe on genuine ones and always fail organoleptic tests. Manufacturers of genuine resins usually can compare them one by one and educate why one resin is genuine and the other one is fake. In future articles we shall explain how fake resins are made and find their way into the market.
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