Ayurvedic shilajit supplement found to contain alarmingly high levels of LEAD and ARSENIC heavy metals
Recent tests in my internationally accredited science laboratory (ISO 17025 accreditation, the “gold standard” of analytical excellence) revealed a shilajit supplement to contain an astonishing 2,700+ ppb (parts per billion) of lead, a toxic heavy metal linked to cognitive damage.
This is the same toxic heavy metal found in the Flint, Michigan water supply which resulted in government scientists being charged with felony crimes. The EPA’s limit on lead in the water supply is 15 ppb. The shilajit product we tested was over 180 times higher.
The same shilajit supplement was also found to contain over 600 ppb of arsenic, another toxic heavy metal. Alarmingly, it was also found to contain these concentrations of yet more elements and metals that may be toxic at high concentrations:
Copper: 4,200+ ppb
Nickel: 4,900+ ppb
Aluminum: 1,380,747 ppb (or 1,380 parts per million)
According to the heavy metals grading scale I developed and published at Low Heavy Metals Verified, this concentration of lead would earn this shilajit supplement an “F” grade.
As a result of the metals composition found in shilajit, I am issuing a consumer alert to avoid shilajit supplements unless you know for certain that they are significantly clean of toxic heavy metals. (Grade “A” or better at LowHeavyMetalsVerified.org.)
Personally, not only would I never eat anything containing 2700+ ppb of lead, I would never sell such a supplement in the first place. In my opinion as a scientist, author and superfood formulator, it is highly unethical to sell supplements to the public when they contain such high levels of lead, copper, arsenic, nickel and aluminum.
What is shilajit?
Shilajit is a black, fulvic acid-rich mineral substance that’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It’s currently sold as an Ayurvedic dietary supplement, along with some rather dicey claims that it promotes sexual function, brain function, immune function and even detoxification. It is difficult to fathom how shilajit can be claimed to be so healing when it is contaminated with such high concentrations of heavy metals and toxic elements.
Lead, of course, damages cognitive function and harms neurodevelopment in children. It is exhaustively linked to lowered IQ in humans, making it very difficult to grasp how a product with such high concentrations of lead could claim to support “brain function.”
And here’s a link to the Healthforce Shilajit web page which describes this dietary supplement as a “thick, resinous material that oozed out of cracks in the … cliffs” and was eaten by monkeys. That same page explains that the metals and elements found in shilajit are “highly bioavailable minerals.” (Just what I wanted for Christmas… highly bioavailable lead, arsenic, nickel and aluminum!)
Other claims on the website seem to wildly contradict the known toxic effects of the heavy metals the product contains. For example, the product is claimed to “supports memory, learning, and healthy brain function” even though lead is known to damage memory, learning and healthy brain function.
Perhaps most shockingly, the Healthforce web page explains: “We test our shilajit for identity, pesticides, microbials, heavy metals, irradiation, GMOs, solvent residues, and fulvic acid content to assure the high level of purity and potency that our customers deserve.” This means, quite obviously, that the Healthforce company is aware of the lead, arsenic, aluminum and other potentially harmful elements found in their shilajit product, but they continue to sell it anyway.
That’s truly shocking to me. Healthforce is bluntly admitting that even though they test their products for heavy metals, they do not stop selling them when concerning high levels of those heavy metals are found in their products. So what, exactly, is the point of testing them in the first place? Do they test them just so they can say on their website that “we tested for heavy metals?”
For the record, shilajit supplements have been banned in Canada for the very reason you might suspect: The substance is so high in heavy metals that Health Canada has long since determined it is too dangerous for human consumption.
Canada’s ban on shilajit due to toxic levels of lead and other heavy metals
Via this Canadian government archive page:
Health Canada is warning consumers not to use certain Ayurvedic medicinal products because they contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and/or arsenic. Health Canada is taking action to remove these products from the market and to prevent further importation into Canada.
Ayurvedic medicinal products are used in traditional Indian healing and are often imported from India. According to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, heavy metals may be used because of their reputed therapeutic properties. However, improper manufacturing processes may result in dangerously high levels of heavy metals remaining in the final product.
Heavy metals pose a particular health risk because they may accumulate in vital organs. Children are most susceptible to the toxic effects of heavy metal poisoning. For example, arsenic poisoning can cause nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle cramps, heart abnormalities, liver damage, anaemia and reduced motor nerve function. Lead poisoning can cause weight loss, insomnia, dizziness, swelling of the brain and paralysis. Mercury poisoning can cause tremors, insomnia, memory loss, slowed sensory and motor nerve function, and reduced mental function.
As a precaution, Health Canada advises Canadians not to use any other Karela, Safi, Maha Sudarshan Churna, Yograj Guggul, Sudarshan or Shilajit products unless they have the required market authorization.
As you know if you’ve followed my work for very long, I am the founder and lab science director at CWC Labs. There, I’ve spent several years pioneering heavy metals research into foods and dietary supplements through ICP-MS instrumentation. (The U.S. Patent Office has just awarded me two ICP-MS-related patents, by the way, which have been pending for almost three years. They will be published by the government in just a few weeks.)
My laboratory has also been awarded this Certificate of Excellence for outstanding analytical work, achieving “100% acceptable data” while producing analysis data for water samples that was off by only 0.3 ppb (0.0003 ppm). I’m also the author of the widely acclaimed book Food Forensics, which achieved the Amazon.com #1 Best selling SCIENCE book ranking before it was even launched.
To test this shilajit supplement, I used our accredited in-house method, based on EPA 200.8, a published scientific method for elemental analysis. The internal standard I mapped to lead for this determination was Bismuth-209, widely known to be the heaviest stable nucleus in existence, with a half life that is more than a billion times longer than the age of our universe.
Today, I am routinely testing dietary supplements for many commercial customers. Since launching this commercial testing service at CWC Labs, I have only seen one health product with a more disturbing heavy metals profile than this shilajit dietary supplement: powdered zeolite (which is usually extremely high in lead and aluminum, beyond anything else in the entire industry).
How can it “detox” you when it’s so high in toxic elements?
Over the years of being involved in the raw food industry, veganism, nutrition and forensic laboratory science, I have come to reluctantly discover that many companies that manufacture and sell dietary supplements are run by people who are scientifically illiterate.
You’d be amazed to learn just how many so-called “detox supplements” are actually loaded with toxic heavy metals. It’s beyond belief, and if you ran a world-class laboratory like I do, you’d be shaking your head in amazement at the number of “detox” supplements that still exist in the marketplace today, often sold with what can only be called a degree of carnival hucksterism.
Shilajit is no exception. It’s been found to contain such high concentrations of toxic lead that Canada banned shilajit supplements, citing high lead content as a threat to public safety. Yet here in the United States, many of the very same people who wouldn’t dare eat GMOs or swallow pesticides are literally eating shilajit (or other similar substances) by the spoonful. (Yes, you can scratch your own head in wonderment at all this…)
My official shilajit health warnings
WARNING #1) Shilajit supplements may contain very high levels of toxic heavy metals. In fact, many medicinal herbs from India and China (both for Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine) are very heavily contaminated with lead and other toxic elements. See my recent coverage of the FDA’s recall on turmeric for another example.
WARNING #2) Some companies that sell shilajit have a long history of selling other dietary products containing very high levels of toxic heavy metals. As you’ve seen in this article, even when some companies are fully aware of the high heavy metals their products contain, they are willing to keep selling them anyway!
WARNING #3) Do not trust any shilajit product unless you have it tested by a competent, accredited laboratory. If you want my laboratory to test products for you, you may purchase these heavy metals test kits to have us test your dietary supplements, soils, water or even your own hair composition. (Our test is conducted via ICP-MS and analyzes your sample for 20 elements, including the toxic heavy metals.)
Finally, do not eat rocks or inorganic minerals that might ooze out from between rocks. I know it sounds almost stupid to say “don’t eat rocks,” but you’d be amazed how many products I’ve seen in the industry which are basically just ground up rocks. Nearly all cheap calcium supplements, for example, are just compressed, powdered oyster shells or cheap calcium sources often contaminated with lead. If you’re taking cheap, low-grade calcium supplements, you are actually causing yourself serious health damage (which is why cheap calcium pills are linked to serious health problems).
As I’ve warned people again and again, get your minerals from living plants wherever possible, not from rocks or rock derivatives. And do not believe the quack science of the fringe supplement pushers who claim things like “lead is a mineral, so it’s good for you!” There’s no such thing as healthy lead, by the way. For decades, they put it into gasoline to improve engine performance. What we got as a result is nationwide cognitive decline and a huge rise in mental retardation. Go figure…
And yes, for the record, there are great many people in the so-called “raw food” movement who are mentally deranged and seriously brain damaged from heavy metals, recreational drugs or a bizarre combination of the two. If they tell you to eat something because it’s amazing, awesome, ancient or popular, think twice about what you’re doing. If you consume shilajit, you’re basically licking nasty black crap out of the side of a cliff like a bunch of monkeys. You’d be better off growing sunflower sprouts in clean water enhanced with ocean minerals, quite frankly.
Health and Wellness Associates