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The Benefits of Shilajit: An Interview with Dr. Sanni Raju

The Benefits of Shilajit: An Interview with Dr. Sanni Raju

Written by
June 28, 2017
Updated January 23, 2019

Earlier this month, we posted THIS article as an introduction to fulvic acid, a nutrition-dense organic molecule found in the earth’s crust.

To recap, consuming fulvic acid has been shown to improve muscle endurance, nutrient absorption, and testosterone production.

Fulvic acid is derived from Shilajit, a resin present in rocks found in the Himalayas. Natreon Inc., an ayurvedic product developer, produces a Shilajit extract called PrimaVie that is now available commercially.

Onnit sat down with Natreon’s CEO and Chairman, Dr. Sanni Raju—an expert on Shilajit, fulvic minerals, and their origins—to get more details on a supplement that could be a game-changer for athletes and anti-aging science.

Onnit: Shilajit has been a part of ayurvedic tradition for centuries. What was the mystique surrounding it?

Dr. Raju: Shilajit has been used as an anti-aging and male performance product for well over 3,000 years. There’s physical evidence of its use in the Indus Valley civilization [Pakistan and northwest India between 2600 and 1600 B.C.], and it has been called “Divya Rasayan,” meaning “celestial super vitalizer.”

Shilajit’s origin goes back to ammonites—sea animals of the Cretaceous period—which became extinct millions of years ago. When the Indian subcontinent formed, the fossils of ammonites ended up in the Himalayan mountains and became humified [converted into humus, the organic matter in soil]. This led to the formation of dibenzo-alpha-pyrones [DBPs, metabolites derived from plants and animals], humic acids, and fulvic acids, along with many minerals, which are present in Shilajit today. Similar events occurred in other parts of the world, such as Russia, where Shilajit is known as “Moomiyo,” and the Russians are known to use it to enhance their athletic performance.

Since Shilajit dates back to ammonites, which are prehistoric, the implication is that these molecules must be essential for the existence of life—if they survived millions of years of evolution.

Does modern science still support the use of Shilajit?

Yes. We are discovering more and more uses for Shilajit all the time. We have done two clinical studies on male health and found that PrimaVie increased free and total testosterone and DHEAS in healthy subjects, and it increased total testosterone, among other markers.

In another clinical study on healthy subjects done at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC), PrimaVie was found to upregulate the genes responsible for the synthesis of collagen and several other related proteins—a total of 17. All of these were relevant to our body’s extracellular matrix (ECM) [molecules that provide structural and biochemical support to cells in the body] by several fold, and in some cases several hundred fold, improving muscle health as a result.

Based on this finding, a skin health study at OSUWMC and a sports nutrition pilot study at the Center for Applied Health Sciences (CAHS) in Ohio are in progress. Since collagen comprises 30% of bones, a bone health study is also planned, along with a joint health study, as collagen is a major component of cartilage in the joints. Of course, the results of these studies are not in yet.

Another sports nutrition clinical study—not yet published—done on young adults showed that PrimaVie increased metabolic equivalents.

What else can you say about what Shilajit can do for athletes?

The clinical study from OSUWMC proved that PrimaVie promoted skeletal muscle adaptation through upregulation of ECM-related genes that control muscle mechanotransduction properties, elasticity, repair, and regeneration.

Additionally, PrimaVie provides many microminerals that may not be readily available in the diet, but may be essential for good health.

My personal experience: I have taken PrimaVie capsules for a long time. I am 64 years old and I climbed the steps at the 66-floor Rockefeller Center in New York City last year. I can climb up and down a 15-floor building five times in a row. I think Shilajit has something to do with it.

Is there a practical way that people could obtain this nutrition without a supplement?

Fulvic acids, as present in PrimaVie, are not a standard part of people’s diets, as they can only be obtained through the humification of ammonites. Fulvic acids contain several microminerals—Natreon analyzes for many of these—and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones (DBPs), in free and conjugated form. Some of the microminerals present in PrimaVie may not be readily available in our diet.

What form should we take fulvic acid in? What should we look for in a Shilajit/fulvic acid product?

You can take it as a capsule, tablet, powder blend, or a liquid. In liquid form, it will have an earthy taste, but that can be masked by flavoring.

Find out more about Natreon and Dr. Raju at

Dr. Sanni Raju is the CEO & Chairman of Natreon, Inc., and a founding director. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Pharmacy from India and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics from the University of Maryland at Baltimore. Natreon’s mission is to bring near pharmaceutical quality to nutraceutical products. He is a Licensed Pharmacist in New York State. Dr. Raju is also the founder and owner of GlobePharma, Inc., a manufacturer of specialized pharmaceutical equipment and quality-assurance devices. He holds a number of U.S. patents in connection with the design and application of such equipment and devices as well as pharmaceutical and natural products.
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