Cistanche Vs Shilajit

Cistanche Vs. Shilajit: The Comprehensive Comparison

Cistanche vs Shilajit are known for their numerous health benefits such as increasing testosterone levels, enhancing muscle strength, regulating stress, and protecting the nerves.

However, what are the differences between them? Which is better, Cistanche or Shilajit? The following article will clarify these questions.

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Cistanche Vs. Shilajit - Key Differences

Cistanche and Shilajit have some similarities in terms of health functions. Both compounds positively impact hormone production, naturally boosting testosterone, supporting workout efficiency, and enhancing the immune system.

Nevertheless, there are several differences between them:

Criteria

Cistanche

Shilajit

The Origin

North Africa, the Middle East, Northwestern China.

Himalayas and other mountain regions.

Key Benefits

Boost Testosterone

High Efficacy

High Efficacy

Increase Performance

Moderate Efficacy

High Efficacy

Aphrodisiac

High Efficacy

High Efficacy

Neuro-protective

High Efficacy

High Efficacy

Traditional Use

Improve sexual health, support hormones, enhance kidney function, and increase overall strength.

Improve cognitive function, support sperm production, and elevate testosterone levels in men.

Population

Been studied and gained attention for its potential health benefits.

Been studied and gained attention for its potential health benefits.

Scientific Studies

Neuroprotective, immune-modulating, antioxidative, anti-cancer, and liver protective functions

Muscle-strengthening, immune-boosting, overall energy-enhancing, testosterone production stimulating, and brain health supporting benefits.

The Active Compounds

Phenylethanoid glycosides, iridoids, lignans, and polysaccharides

Fulvic acid, ellagic acid, fatty acids, resins, gum, albumin, triterpenes, sterols

Side Effects 

High doses can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or skin problems like allergies and irritation

Heavy metal concentrations, posing a toxicity risk

Dosage

400mg - 800mg per day

250mg per day

The comparison table of Cistanche and Shilajit

The Origin of Cistanche Tubulosa and Shilajit

Cistanche Tubulosa is a parasitic herb, growing on the roots of various shrubs and thriving in the harsh climate conditions of deserts. Cistanche is mainly found in nutrient-poor arid regions like the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and northwestern China.

Shilajit, a natural compound, is predominantly found in the Himalayas and other mountain regions. It appears as a black, asphalt-like substance in the crevices of rocks on mountains.

This natural compound is formed over millions of years by decomposing microorganisms from plants and organic matter. Thus, it has a high concentration of minerals and nutrients.

Key Benefits of Cistanche vs Shilajit

Boost Testosterone

benefits of cistanche and shilajit for testosterone

Currently, there is no clear evidence comparing the effectiveness of these two compounds in increasing testosterone levels. However, both have been linked to boost both testosterone and progesterone hormones in men effectively.

A study on male mice [1] showed that using Cistanche increased sperm count, sperm motility, and testosterone levels in the serum after the test.

Research conducted similarly on humans and mice [2] showed that doses of 250mg/day of Shilajit (in humans) and 100 mg/day (in mice) both demonstrated a significant increase in testosterone levels.

Though Cistanche and Shilajit help increase hormone levels, they do so through different mechanisms.

Cistanche increases testosterone by synthesizing it, while Shilajit provides the minerals and nutrients necessary for building the required hormone mass.

Increase Performance

In terms of enhancing workout performance, Shilajit performs better than Cistanche. This is due to Shilajit containing many minerals, aiding in proper nutritional support for the body. Nevertheless, both still offer superior performance in this function.

Cistanche has been found effective in improving symptoms of chronic fatigue in adults, such as physical weakness and discomfort after exertion [3].

Shilajit enhances muscle strength and reduces the serum level of hydroxyproline appearing due to fatigue [4].

Shilajit also provides long-lasting energy, enhancing productivity and focus during workout routines.

Aphrodisiac

Cistanche Tubulosa contains alkaloids that shorten the resting time and prolong mating duration, indicating Cistanche's support in enhancing sexual function.

The sexual stimulation function is primarily carried out through the pituitary gland without affecting sex hormones [5].

Unlike Cistanche, Shilajit increases serum testosterone through direct effects on this hormone, thereby enormously stimulating sexual desire, and helping with fertility. [6].

Neuro-protective

Cistanche performs better than Shilajit in Neuro-protective

For neuroprotective and cognitive enhancement functions, Cistanche performs better than Shilajit, thanks to its superior antioxidant capability, something that cannot be found in Shilajit.

Another study also indicated that the component Echinacoside in Cistanche helps achieve neuroprotective effects by inhibiting inflammation processes in mice [7].

Both Cistanche and Shilajit perform well in reducing stress, enhancing memory, and supporting learning by increasing new and existing neural cells in the brain.

Additionally, supplementing with these two compounds helps increase the levels of steroid hormones (pregnanolone, progesterone, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone), helping to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain (such as dopamine), reduce anxiety, and bring a sense of calm.

Traditional Use

In traditional Chinese medicine, Cistanche is used to improve sexual health, support hormones, enhance kidney function, and increase overall strength.
Similarly, in traditional Indian medicine, Shilajit is utilized to improve cognitive function, support sperm production, and elevate testosterone levels in men.

The Population and Scientific Studies

Both Cistanche and Shilajit have been studied and gained attention for their potential health benefits.

Cistanche has been researched for its neuroprotective, immune-modulating, antioxidative, and liver-protective functions [8].

On the other hand, Shilajit has been studied for its muscle-strengthening, immune-boosting, overall energy-enhancing, testosterone production stimulating, and brain health-supporting benefits.

The Active Compounds

active compounds of cistanche and shilajit

The active compounds in Cistanche include phenylethanoid glycosides, iridoids, lignans, and polysaccharides, which are beneficial for blood lipid function, neuroprotection, liver protection, and blood sugar levels [8].

Shilajit primarily contains humic substances, including fulvic acid, ellagic acid, fatty acids, resins, gum, albumin, triterpenes, and sterols, where the fulvic acid content is notably effective in strong antioxidation [9].

Side Effects Need To Be Aware

Side effects need to be considered as both can lead to adverse reactions if not consumed properly.

Studies on Cistanche have shown that high doses can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or skin problems like allergies and irritation [10].

For Shilajit, it has been suggested that it could contain heavy metal concentrations, posing a toxicity risk [10]. However, another study indicates that Shilajit's side effects are negligible and do not increase iron levels after usage [11]. However, as these are natural compounds, drug reactions or allergies to impurities could occur.

Differences On Dosage

For healthy individuals, consuming 400 - 800 mg of Cistanche per day is relatively safe and effective in enhancing overall health, supporting the immune system, and protecting the nervous system.

A study on the effects of Shilajit on testosterone levels in healthy volunteers showed that a reasonable consumption dose for Shilajit is 250 mg/day, divided into two doses.

Cistanche Vs. Shilajit: Which One Should You Choose?

Cistanche and Shilajit possess numerous benefits for improving human health, such as stimulating hormone levels, protecting neural health, reducing stress, and enhancing workout effectiveness.

If you wish to naturally improve your hormone levels without relying on stimulants, Cistanche might be more suitable. Additionally, it helps in reducing stress.

On the other hand, if you're looking to boost minerals and nutrients in your body, support muscle health, and increase overall energy, Shilajit is the better choice.

Both herbs are beneficial for health, but to find out which one is the best fit for you, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. It would help if you also considered your health condition and lifestyle to make an informed decision.

Can You Combine Cistanche and Shilajit?

It is possible to combine Cistanche and Shilajit. There has been no research showing that this combination is harmful to users.

However, to ensure safety when using, you should consult a doctor before consumption or use each herb separately in appropriate doses to monitor the effects.

Conclusion

These are the origin, function, and dosage differences when comparing Cistanche vs Shilajit. While both herbs offer health benefits, it does not mean they suit everyone. You should seek advice from a specialist or conduct thorough research before use to ensure safety.

References

[1] Wang, Tian, et al. “Cistanche TubulosaEthanol Extract Mediates Rat Sex Hormone Levels by Induction of Testicular Steroidgenic Enzymes.” Pharmaceutical Biology, vol. 54, no. 3, 25 May 2015, pp. 481–487, https://doi.org/10.3109/13880209.2015.1050114.
[2] Pandit, S., et al. “Clinical Evaluation of Purified Shilajit on Testosterone Levels in Healthy Volunteers.” Andrologia, vol. 48, no. 5, 22 Sept. 2015, pp. 570–575, https://doi.org/10.1111/and.12482.
[3] Kan, Juntao, et al. “A Botanical Product Containing Cistanche and Ginkgo Extracts Potentially Improves Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Study.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 8, 26 Nov. 2021, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.658630. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.
[4] ---. “A Botanical Product Containing Cistanche and Ginkgo Extracts Potentially Improves Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Study.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 8, 26 Nov. 2021, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.658630. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.
[5] “Research on Medicinal Plants(Cistanche) with Tonifying Yang (Improve Sexual Function) Effects - News - Chengdu Wecistanche Bio-Tech Co., Ltd.” Www.xjcistanche.com, www.xjcistanche.com/news/research-on-medicinal-plants-cistanche-with-t-50939197.html. Accessed 3 Apr. 2024.
[6] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Muhammad-Zubair-27/publication/301551951_Spatula_DD_1_Effects_of_asphaltum_Shilajit_on_male_reproductive_system_mini_review_Asphaltum'un_Shijalit_erkek_ureme_sistemi_uzerine_etkisi_mini_derleme/links/5718f23308ae986b8b7b2cc6/Spatula-DD-1-Effects-of-asphaltum-Shilajit-on-male-reproductive-system-mini-review-Asphaltumun-Shijalit-erkek-uereme-sistemi-uezerine-etkisi-mini-derleme.pdf
[7] Cheng Wei Lu, et al. “Echinacoside, an Active Constituent of Cistanche Herba, Exerts a Neuroprotective Effect in a Kainic Acid Rat Model by Inhibiting Inflammatory Processes and Activating the Akt/GSK3β Pathway.” Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, vol. 41, no. 11, 1 Nov. 2018, pp. 1685–1693, https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.b18-00407. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.
[8] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2023.1101182/full?id_mc=316770838
[9] “Shilajit: A Natural Phytocomplex with Potential Procognitive Activity.” Www.hindawi.com, www.hindawi.com/journals/ijad/2012/674142/.
[10] https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/pharmacology/articles/10.3389/fphar.2016.00289/full [11] Velmurugan, C, et al. “Evaluation of Safety Profile of Black Shilajit after 91 Days Repeated Administration in Rats.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 2, no. 3, Mar. 2012, pp. 210–214, https://doi.org/10.1016/s2221-1691(12)60043-4. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.
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Author

Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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