Social media, Ayurvedic websites, or health stores may have brought your attention to fulvic acid, a health product that some people take as a supplement. Fulvic acid supplements and shilajit, a natural substance that’s rich in fulvic acid, are popular for a variety of reasons, including potential immune and brain health benefits.
This article explains everything you need to know about fulvic acid, including what it is, its health effects, and its safety. The article was written for the website Healthline by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on April 24, 2020 and medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D. Follow Healthline by clicking on the following link: https://www.healthline.com/
Fulvic acid is considered a humic substance, meaning it’s a naturally occurring compound found in soils, compost, marine sediments, and sewage (1). Fulvic acid is a product of decomposition and formed through geochemical and biological reactions, such as the breakdown of food in a compost heap. It can be extracted from compost, soil, and other substances to be processed into a supplement (1).
How does it differ from shilajit?
Shilajit, a substance secreted by rocks in certain mountain ranges around the world, including the Himalayas, is particularly high in fulvic acid. Its common names include mineral pitch, mumie, mumijo, and vegetable asphalt (2) Shilajit is blackish brown and comprises 15–20% fulvic acid. It also contains small amounts of minerals and metabolites derived from fungi (3, 4).
Shilajit has been used therapeutically for centuries in traditional healing practices, including Ayurvedic medicine, to treat conditions like diabetes, altitude sickness, asthma, heart ailments, and digestive and nervous disorders (3 5). It has also been used to stimulate the immune system and enhance performance (5.) Fulvic acid is believed to be responsible for many of shilajit’s medicinal properties.
Both fulvic acid and shilajit can be taken as supplements. While fulvic acid is typically produced in liquid or capsule form and combined with other minerals like magnesium and amino acids, shilajit is usually sold as a capsule or fine powder that can be added to beverages.
Fulvic acid and shilajit, a substance high in fulvic acid, have long been used in traditional medicine. Both are sold in supplement form and said to treat numerous ailments.
Research demonstrates that both fulvic acid and shilajit may boast various health-promoting properties.
May reduce inflammation and boost immunity
Fulvic acid has been well studied for its effects on immune health and inflammation. Research indicates that it may bolster your body’s defense against illnesses.
Test-tube and animal studies show that fulvic acid may improve disease resistance, increase your immune defences, fight inflammation, and enhance antioxidant activity — all of which may bolster immune health (4, 6, 7).
Fulvic acid may be especially useful for reducing inflammation, which negatively affects immune response and is linked to numerous chronic diseases.For example, test-tube studies demonstrate that it may limit the release of inflammatory substances like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (8, 9).
Plus, a study in 20 people with HIV found that taking shilajit at varying doses of up to 9,000 mg per day, combined with traditional antiretroviral medication, led to health improvements, compared with antiretroviral medication alone. Those who received shilajit experienced fewer symptoms of nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea. Furthermore, the treatment enhanced people’s response to the medication and seemed to protect the liver and kidneys from the medicine’s side effects (10).
However, it’s important to note that results are mixed, with some studies tying fulvic acid to inflammatory effects depending on the dose and type. More research is needed before these substances can be recommended as immune boosters (4). It’s also important to understand that one supplement will not prevent or cure disease. Keeping your immune system healthy with a nutritious diet and other lifestyle factors can help your body defend against viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and toxins.
May protect brain function
Animal studies note that shilajit can improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury by reducing swelling and pressure in the brain (12). Additionally, test-tube studies show that fulvic acid strongly interferes with the clumping of certain proteins that accelerate brain ailments like Alzheimer’s disease (13).
What’s more, a preliminary, 24-week study in people with Alzheimer’s determined that supplementing with shilajit and B vitamins led to stabilized brain function, compared with a placebo group (14).
Other potential benefits
Fulvic acid may offer several other health benefits.
- May lower cholesterol. Animal studies suggest that fulvic acid may decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol. According to a human study in 30 people, it may also raise HDL (good) cholesterol (17, 18).
- May improve muscle strength. In a 12-week study in 60 adults with obesity, 500 mg of shilajit daily helped improve muscle strength. Plus, an 8-week study in 63 active men showed similar results with the same amount of this compound (19, 20).
- May relieve altitude sickness. Shilajit has been used for centuries to treat altitude sickness. Fulvic acid may help treat this condition by enhancing immune response, stimulating energy production, and improving oxygen levels (5).
- May boost cellular function. Animal research demonstrates that shilajit may preserve the function of mitochondria, the energy-producing organelle of cells (21).
- May have anticancer properties. Some test-tube studies indicate that shilajit may induce cancer cell death and prevent the spread of certain cancer cells. However, more research is needed (22).
- May boost testosterone. A 3-month study in 96 men found that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day significantly increased testosterone levels, compared with a placebo group (23).
- May enhance gut health. Ayurvedic medicine has used shilajit for centuries to enhance gut health. Some research suggests that it may positively affect gut bacteria, enhance nutrient absorption, and improve digestive disorders (4).
Although fulvic acid and shilajit are associated with many potential health benefits, human studies are fairly limited.
Both fulvic acid and shilajit may offer numerous benefits, including reduced inflammation, stronger immunity, and improved brain function. Still, more human research is needed.
Moderate doses of fulvic acid and shilajit appear safe, though research is ongoing.
A study in 30 men concluded that a daily dose of 0.5 ounces (15 mL) can be used safely without the risk of side effects. Higher doses may induce mild side effects, such as diarrhea, headaches, and sore throat (1).
Additionally, a 3-month study in people with HIV found that prolonged use of shilajit at a dose of 6,000 mg per day was safe and did not cause any significant side effects (10). Other studies note that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day for up to 3 months doesn’t cause significant side effects in healthy adults (19, 23).
Although fulvic acid and Shilajit are considered relatively safe, insufficient research has been carried out to determine dosage recommendations. You’re generally advised not to exceed the dosage listed on supplement packaging. Furthermore, it’s important to pay special attention to the quality and form of fulvic acid and shilajit supplements. Studies show that raw, unpurified shilajit may contain arsenic, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and other harmful compounds (11).
Since some shilajit products may be contaminated with these toxins, it’s important to purchase supplements from trusted brands that are tested by third-party organizations, such as NSF International or United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (11).
Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid shilajit and fulvic acid due to a lack of safety information.
Finally, these substances may react with certain medications, so it’s important to consult your healthcare provider before adding either to your routine.
Shilajit and fulvic acid are considered relatively safe. However, some supplements may be contaminated with harmful substances, and more research is necessary to determine dosage guidelines.
Fulvic acid and shilajit, which is rich in this acid, are natural health products taken to treat numerous conditions.
Although research reveals that they may boost immune and brain health, as well as combat inflammation, more human studies are needed to fully determine their effectiveness, dosage, and long-term safety.
If you’re interested in trying fulvic acid or shilajit, first consult your healthcare provider. Furthermore, always purchase supplements from reputable sources to avoid exposure to toxins.