Chemistry and formation

The formation of Humic substances is one of the least understood and the most intriguing aspects of humus chemistry (Stevenson, 1994), although the formation process of Humic substances has been studied in detail for a long time, their formation is still the subject of long standing and continued research.

Davies and Ghabbour (1999) have provided an excellent review of such theories,

but generally the accepted view is that Humic substances are produced by the condensation of various components present in the humification process such  as amino acids, lignins, quiones, pectins or carbohydrates through intermolecular forces(donor-acceptor, ionic, hydrophillic and hydrophobic), although the mechanisms may vary depending on geographical, climatic, physical and biological substances (Pena-Mendez et al., 2005).

In the broadest terms the structure can be described as assembles of covalently linked aromatic and aliphatic residues carrying carboxyl, phenolic and alkoxy groups linked mainly by Oxygen and nitrogen groups, although sulphate esters, alanine, sonquine, phosphate ester and hydroquinone groups have been proposed to exist in some humic isolates.
Described as a collection of diverse and relative low molecular weight components forming a dynamic association stabilized by hydrophobic interaction and hydrogen bonds and being capable of organizing into micellar structures in a suitable aqueous environment (Sutton and Sposito, 2005) crating a colloidal suspension with rigid uncharged colloidal particles, having the ability to pass the blood brain barrier and increase solubility of other nutrients up to 15x as well as bioavailability enhancement, high Ph and low electrolyte concentration, Humic and Fulvic acids exist as a flexible linear polyelectrolyte.
In the environment Humic acids can bind metal ions from dissolved rocks and minerals, can bind pollutants and biocides used for agricultural purposes (Livens, 1991).
Humic and Fulvic acid present in soil are known to increase nutrient uptake, drought tolerance and seed germination in plants increasing the availability of nutrients that are already in the soil and naturally aerate the soil from inside and interact with free radicals. Colloidal properties also make it an effective agent in transporting both organic and inorganic materials in the environment.

Traditional uses in Medicine ancient and modern

The use of Humic substances have been used traditionally as part of oriental and ancient indian  Ayurvedic medicine dating as far back as 1000 BC.

The texts of Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita described  Humic substances  from the Himalayan rocks, calling it a rasayana (rejuvenator) as well as a panacea (cure) for all disease and endowed with a capability of increasing  human longevity  and an adaptogen endowed with miraculous healing properties (Acharya, 1962: Sharma and Das 1988, Ghosal et al., 1995e; Agarwal et el., 2007).

Other Humic substances extracted from the Caucasus, Altai, amd Pamu mountain range have been used for over 3000 years as part of folklore medicine in the former soviet union, China, Tibet, and Greece (Frolova and Kiseleva 1996; Schepetkin et el., 2002) and has been known by the name Mumie, Mumio or Mumijo in these countries and has been popular in the treatment of bone fractures, dislocations, diseases of the skin and the peripheral nervous system and also as a soothing and  anti-inflammatory agent.

Greek physicians  used it as an antidote to poisons  and in the treatment of arthritis  and inflammation.

Aristotle studied the medicinal effects and application of Mumio and it’s medicinal use was promoted and spread by his pupil Alexandra the Great through out his empire.

Galen included Mumio as an ingredient in his famous panacea, Theriac.

The Persian physician Al Biruni recommended Mumio  for traumatic injuries.

Mumio or Mumijo in Greek means ”saving body” or ”protecting organism”.

Tibetins called it Brag shun, meaning ”Mountain oil”, while in Arabic it is called Hajar-ul-musa or Arakul dzibol, meaning ”Mountain sweat”.

The Sanskrit meaning Shilajit is a ” conqueror of mountain and destroyer of weakness”

Other terms like dathuras, dathusara, shiladhatu have also been used in ancient medical texts like Sushruta samhita, Charak samhita and Rasarangini.

The word dhatu has been used simply to emphasize it’s capability as a rasayana, which increase the activity of the Saptadhatus of the body (Tewari et al., 1973) to correct functions on all systems of the body and corrects the imbalance thus giving an overall well being, reducing the stress of internal organs, effecting balanced energy, metabolism and anti-aging (Dabur Shilajit, 2007, Phillips, 1997).

It is perscribed for the treatment of genitourinary disorders, Jaundice, gallstones, digestive disorders, enlarged spleen, epilipsy, nervous disorders, chronic bronchitis and anemia (Chopra et al., 1958)

Humic substances have also been known to be useful for treating kidney stones, edema, piles, internal antiseptic, adiposity, to reduce fat and anorexia (Nadkarni, 1976) as well as fractures, diabetes, osteoarthritis and spondylosis and also being high in Superoxide dismutase.

This miraculous agent has been shown to have –

Anti-ulcerogenic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Anti-diabetic, Anti-stress, Nootropic, Antiolytic activity, Anti-allergic, Immunodulatory activity, Anti-AIDS activity, Anti-allergic.


Goel et al., 1990, Ghosal et al., 1988b, Goel, 1990, Ghosal 1988, Bhattacharya et al., 1995, 

Schepetkin et al., 2002, Ghosal, 2000, Tripathi et al., 1996, Kanikkannan et al., 1995,

Ghosal et al., 1991, Ghosal 1998, Ghosal et al., 1989, Ghosal, 2006

Ghosal and Bhattacharya 1992, Ghosal 1990, 1992a, b, 1998; Bhaumik et al., 1993, Ghosal 2002a .  

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