Shilajit vs. Ginseng: Similarities & Differences Explained

Shilajit and ginseng are herbal compounds often compared due to their similar uses for energy enhancement, athletic performance, and sexual function. In this article, we’ll go over the similarities and …

Photo of author
Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
Published on:

Shilajit and ginseng are herbal compounds often compared due to their similar uses for energy enhancement, athletic performance, and sexual function.

In this article, we’ll go over the similarities and differences between ginseng and shilajit, and explain which is best for your health goals and desired benefits. 

shilajit vs. ginseng

Shilajit vs. Ginseng: Similarities & Differences Explained

Shilajit and ginseng have both been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, especially for energy and stamina, athletic performance, and sexual health. Both of these herbs are also still quite popular for these uses today.

However, there certainly are distinct features that separate shilajit from ginseng, so it can be helpful to understand what these differences are to determine which one is best for you.

The first main difference is in their categorization. Specifically, ginseng is a true herb because it is an actual plant. On the other hand, shilajit is an exudate formed from plant and other organic matter, though it still possesses herb-like qualities.

With that said, ginseng and shilajit are both high in valuable minerals, vitamins, and a variety of other compounds that can potentially improve various areas of the body. 

For example, shilajit and ginseng both have the potential to improve sexual function. Ginseng has more wide-reaching effects such as enhanced blood flow, improved hormone levels, and improved fertility for men and women), whereas shilajit appears to increase testosterone and enhance sperm health. 

Another shared benefit of shilajit and ginseng is improved brain function. Research has shown that these compounds exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in the brain which may have health benefits for memory and cognition.

Beyond this, shilajit and ginseng also have the potential to improve energy levels, although through slightly different mechanisms. They both enhance ATP production, but shilajit also provides a high level of energy nutrients, whereas ginseng is unique in its ability to increase certain energizing neurotransmitters.

Lastly, ginseng and shilajit have similarities and differences with regard to exercise performance. Both compounds may be able to enhance athletic performance. Yet, ginseng may also have benefits for power output.

Shilajit vs. Ginseng: Which One is Right for You?

Shilajit and ginseng both have intriguing potential benefits to improve sexual function, improve cognitive function, increase energy, and enhance physical performance.

Overall, ginseng is definitely more well-researched. This doesn’t mean that it’s definitely better than shilajit, especially since more studies on shilajit benefits are likely to come; but it is still something to consider, especially if one places a high importance on using evidence-based regimens.

For Sexual Function & Hormonal Health

For all-around improvements in sexual function and hormonal health, ginseng appears to be the better choice over shilajit. Not only is ginseng more well-researched, it also provides several different health benefits in this area. Research has shown that ginseng can improve erectile function, support healthy testosterone levels, and improve fertility and sperm health, while even aiding libido. 

Shilajit certainly has benefits here too though, such as increased testosterone levels and better sperm health. So, individuals looking for those benefits specifically could potentially combine shilajit with ginseng. 

For Cognition & Brain Health

Shilajit and ginseng are both effective for brain health due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in the brain, as well as their ability to increase neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine.

Ginseng appears to be a bit better all-around for cognition and brain health, mainly because it has much more clinical evidence. Specifically, ginseng has the potential to improve memory and other aspects of cognition, and it may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. 

With that said, shilajit also has neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects; these just need to be solidified by more clinical trials.

For Energy & Exercise Performance

In general, ginseng has much more clinical evidence behind it for exercise performance and energy improvement. If your goal is increasing endurance, it appears that both ginseng and shilajit are beneficial, due to their ability to increase ATP production and diminish the build-up of metabolic byproducts. 

However, for improved power, ginseng is the better choice. 

Given their similar benefits, combining ginseng and shilajit could also potentially work very well as an ergogenic aid. 

unique benefits of shilajit and ginseng

Can You Take Shilajit & Ginseng Together?

Yes. There are no documented interactions between ginseng and shilajit. In fact, combining shilajit with ginseng could lead to synergistic effects in areas where they share common benefits, especially for testosterone production, sperm health, memory, energy, and endurance. 

However, the total dosage is very important in order to actually receive these health benefits. Therefore, following evidence-based guidelines is helpful.

To this end, research shows that an effective dose of shilajit falls between 250-1,000mg per day. The dosage range for ginseng is much broader, although a general range supported by research is between 200 to 2,000mg per day. 

As always, start with a lower dosage and work your way up.

Shilajit Overview:

Shilajit is a black exudate found in the Himalayas and other mountain regions. It is formed over millennia from the decomposition of plant and other organic matter, resulting in a tar-like consistency. Due to its composition, shilajit is very rich in minerals, trace elements, and bioactive compounds such as humic acid and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones.

In areas where shilajit was available, it was used traditionally for improving energy, reducing symptoms of high altitude sickness, and enhancing overall vitality and wellness.

Modern research has highlighted several benefits of shilajit, including:

  • Improved Testosterone Levels: Limited clinical research shows that shilajit may increase free and total testosterone levels, as well as DHEA and other hormones.
  • Improved Fertility: Clinical research indicates that shilajit may be beneficial for male and female sexual health, specifically for sperm health and testicular function, although overall evidence is limited.
  • Increased Exercise Performance: Research shows shilajit may improve endurance, fight fatigue, and promote better recovery.
  • Combats High Altitude Sickness: Shilajit is nutrient-rich, promotes immune system support, decreases inflammation and oxidative stress, and promotes higher oxygen-carrying capacity, all of which may defend against high altitude sickness.
  • Memory Improvement: Shilajit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may improve memory and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

Ginseng Overview:

Ginseng is a plant that grows in a variety of areas in Asia and North America. There are several species of ginseng, including Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), and South China ginseng (Panax notoginseng), among others.

While all parts of the plant have been used, the roots of ginseng are the primary components for medicinal purposes. 

Traditionally, ginseng was used to boost energy and promote overall health and longevity. 

Today, ginseng has a wide variety of clinically-supported benefits, including:

  • Enhanced Sexual Function: Clinical research shows that ginseng may have sexual benefits for both men and women, including improved erectile function, increased testosterone, enhanced libido, and decreased menopausal symptoms.
  • Increased Energy Levels: Strong evidence indicates that ginseng has anti-fatigue properties and may promote greater physical and mental energy.
  • Improved Memory & Cognition: Clinical research shows that ginseng may improve cognitive function and memory, likely due to a combination of antioxidant, neuroprotective, and neurotransmitter-boosting effects. 
  • Enhanced Exercise Performance: Some studies reveal that ginseng can improve endurance and power, although not all studies have shown benefits.
the various health benefits of ginseng vs. shilajit

Shilajit vs. Ginseng: Safety & Side Effects

Ginseng and shilajit are both generally considered safe to consume with little to no risk when used at appropriate doses. However, as always, consult your doctor or other trusted healthcare professional before using any supplement. 

Below, we will go over more of the specific side effects and safety profiles for these compounds.

Shilajit Safety:

The overall evidence shows that shilajit is safe to consume and has little risk when used at the recommended dosage.

With that said, shilajit composition can vary widely. Additionally, unpurified shilajit may contain mycotoxins, heavy metals, or other harmful compounds that may be dangerous. As a result, it’s important to only use shilajit supplements from well-trusted brands, ideally those that are third-party tested with transparent Certificates of Analysis. 

Click here for a more detailed overview of our top recommended brands for both dietary and gummy supplements for shilajit.

Also, shilajit doesn’t have any definitive drug or medication interactions. However, given its various bioactive properties, it may interact with: 

  • Medications that slow blood clotting
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Hypoglycemics or other anti-diabetic medications

Ginseng Safety:

Recent evidence indicates that ginseng is safe and well-tolerated when used in appropriate amounts. However, there are still possible side effects, particularly at higher doses, which include: 

  • Manic episodes
  • Changes in heart rate
  • High blood pressure

Additionally, ginseng may interact with certain medications, especially blood thinners. And it is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women. 

Summary & Conclusion:

Shilajit and ginseng have many potential health benefits, especially in the areas of energy, exercise performance, sexual function, and cognition. 

Overall, ginseng has a lot more clinical research behind it, although the body of evidence for shilajit is certainly growing. 

At this time, it seems best to use ginseng for erectile function, libido, and enhanced power output during exercise. Whereas ginseng and shilajit have pretty similar benefits when it comes to testosterone and hormone support, energy production, and brain health/memory improvement.

Ultimately, either herb can be used, and it may be even more beneficial to combine these two to possibly get synergistic effects. 

Photo of author

About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.