“Back in 1985, I wondered that what effect this Shilajit (Salajeet) has, as people used it in small portions, and what if I drink one cup full of it. Anyhow, I gulped down one cup of Salajeet then suddenly I felt swooning. I instantly poured a bucket of water on myself and ran to a doctor. I just told him that I have taken one cup of Salajeet and I passed out. When, after four hours, I regained conscious doctor slapped me hard and warned me from doing this another time,” this is the story of Karimuddin, a resident of Aliabad in Hunza. He is working in business of Salajeet with his father since 1980.
What is Salajeet and how’s it made?
Salajeet is found in mountains of central Asia and it is found mostly in mountains of Gilgit and Baltistan. Karimuddin told BBC Urdu that it took Salajeet many years to come into being from compounds of different minerals and plants, after that it was reaped when the right time was reached.
“The process of searching for this is not a cake walk. People working in this field leave their houses before sun rises. Often it takes several days to the expedition to find Salajeet,” he said.
Salajeet is delivered to the markets after undergoing two phases:
- Its search in tall and high mountains
- Its filtration
Hunt for Salajeet
The way Salajeet is extracted from mountains will definitely give you goosebumps. The hunt for this special mineral is often done by a group of four to five people. They climb up high steep and terrainous mountains to reach the caves where they find it.
The hunters first look for Salajeet through binoculars and when they reach close to caves they could sense it through its smell.
After Salajeet is located, it is filled in sacks to carry to the city. The mountain climbing could prove fatal if rope or safety belt is not tied properly.
Process of filtration of Salajeet
Salajeet is found in the form of a compound in stones. The hunters sell it to shopkeepers in the city who clean and filter it to make Salajeet.
There are different methods of filtration. The most hygienic among them is crushing the stones in small pieces and stirring them with water in a bucket so that the Salajeet is dissolved in water. After few hours of stirring the stones, the waste which gathers on the surface of the water is removed. The stones are left in water for one week so that all the Salajeet gets mixed with water. Then, the remaining harmful particles are removed from water.
After that, it is kept in big glass jars which are left under the sun so that its water is reduced and it is turned into solid form.
Generally, impetuous and skinflint people do not wait for long and sift the water with a thin cloth and boil it for four to five hours to thicken it. Though this makes Salajeet, but it may be more harmful than beneficial.
Identification of real Salajeet
Karimuddin relayed that most of the shopkeepers identified Salajeet through its specific odour, which, according to him, could not differentiate between genuine and counterfeit.
He said people a lot of times added wheat flour in it to increase its quantity. He said if some quantity of real Salajeet was mixed in the counterfeit one, it would smell the same as real.
“The easy way to identify Salajeet is to ask the shopkeeper if it is tested in lab and through verification that it contained 86 kinds of minerals in it,” he said.
Does Salajeet work as Viagra?
Karimuddin said generally people had this wrong perception about Salajeet that it works as Viagra. He said though it expedited circulation of blood in vessels, as it fulfilled mineral needs of the body, but it did not work as Viagra.
An Islamabad-based doctor, Abdul Waheed Mairaj told BBC Urdu that Salajeet contained more than 85 minerals including iron, zinc and magnesium.
“Blood circulation in the body rises and immune system becomes stronger because of these minerals,” he said adding that it was beneficial for curing Alzheimers, depression, diabetes and pain of bones and joints.
The doctor has warned that improperly refined Salajeet could be detrimental and suggested to avoid its excessive use.
How to use Salajeet
Karimuddin said Salajeet equal to one dried gram could be consumed with a cup of lukewarm milk.
He has asked patients of cardiac and high blood pressure to strictly avoid it. Old people could use it daily continuously for three months, while the young should use it no more than twice a week.