Shungite Stones: What Do They Do?

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on December 18, 2023
7 min read

Some people believe that shungite stones are like crystals and have healing properties. But shungite stones don't offer all the health benefits they are supposed to have. Still, they can help in some very targeted areas and show promise in others.

Technically, shungite stones are not crystals, but rather mineraloids or mineralized carbon. The stones are made up of clusters of carbon atoms called fullerenes. 

Natural shungite has lots of different textures and shapes. It usually has a black or dark-gray color and sometimes a metallic sheen. Perhaps the uniqueness of the stones is what makes them attractive to some health-conscious people. 

There are five types of shungite rocks, categorized by their carbon content:

  • Shungite-1 (noble elite shungite): 90%-98% carbon; this has the metallic sheen
  • Shungite-2 (raw shungite): 35%-80% carbon
  • Shungite-3: 20%-35% carbon
  • Shungite-4: 10%-20% carbon
  • Shungite-5: Less than 10% carbon

Elite shungite, the rarest and most expensive kind, is used for healing purposes. Raw shungite is used in jewelry.

Authentic shungite stones come from a town called Shunga in Karelia, Russia. There are lots of shungite deposits in the region. Shungite stones contain many micro- and macrominerals, including quartz, mica, albite, and pyrite.  

 

Like crystals, shungite stones have been around for millennia. In recent years, they've become popular in complementary and alternative medicine. You may have heard people say that shungite can: 

  • Soothe insomnia
  • Relieve pain and inflammation
  • Heal ailments
  • Improve energy levels
  • Detoxify the mind, body, and spirit
  • Protect against electromagnetic frequency 
  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Purify water

There is little evidence to support most of these claims. Let's look at some of them in more detail.

Heal physical ailments

It's said that placing a shungite stone on your wounded body part will help heal it because the stone absorbs the bad energy around it. Or that drinking shungite water (tap water infused with shungite stones) will cure skin diseases, joint aches, and other problems because the stones have fullerenes, which are strong antioxidants.

Fullerenes are a type of carbon nanostructure (CNS) or form of carbon. CNSs have been shown to be able to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. But the specific ways it does this are still being studied. And so far, there've been no studies on humans to show that fullerenes can cure diseases.

Purifiy Water

Russian czar Peter the Great set up the first spa in his country after bathing in and drinking some water that had flowed over the shungite rocks in Karelia in the 1700s. The purified water he drank and made his troops drink is even credited for success in a battle against Swedish troops. All this to say, there's a long history of shungite being used to purify water. Many people make shungite water simply to get a purer product.

As a natural carbon, shungite contains material already widely used in water treatment. It has antibacterial properties and can absorb some organic compounds. At the same time, it releases certain heavy metals into water, like nickel, copper, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium, and arsenic. Some of these exceeded the maximum acceptable concentration in drinking water for at least 5 days, according to a study in the Journal of Water and Health. Nickel exceeded this for 2 weeks. Too much nickel in the body can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. To use shungite for drinking water treatment requires washing the stones for longer and with more water than is normally advised, the journal said.

Reduce Effects of Radiation

Believers say you should put a shungite stone near your electronic equipment to reduce the effects of EMF radiation. EMF (electric and magnetic fields) is a low level radiation emitted by electronic equipment and cell towers that may cause health hazards like cell damage and oxidative stress.

One animal study showed that shungite lowered inflammation in mice that were radiated with UVB rays. After the shungite stones were ground to a powder, mixed with olive oil, and applied to their radiated skin, the mice had less roughness and pigmentation‌.

The study was never tried on humans, though, so it’s not clear that shungite can help your skin or anything else. 

Reduce Inflammation

Some people use shungite pads (a device looking like a heating pad with shungite stones in its pockets) to relieve pain and inflammation in their joints. Sometimes the pads are heated. The theory is that these stones can improve blood circulation.

The same animal study mentioned before did show that shungite could be a treatment for conditions involving oxidative stress and inflammation because it lowered certain inflammation markers like cytokines, which are proteins involved in inflammation. But this study was done on mice, not people, so it's not clear if the benefits carry over.

 

 

 

How can you put shungite stones to good use? There are several ways:

Stress and anxiety. Many people say that shungite can help lower stress and anxiety because it absorbs negative energy. This isn’t shown in any evidence. But shungite could work as a sensory technique. Touching and holding objects (like a shungite stone) can help you move through distress. 

Meditation. Meditation can help lower your blood pressure and stress, and bring calmness to your mind. One form of meditation called concentration meditation involves focusing on an object. This practice teaches you how to focus your mind and is often the basis for other types of meditation.

You can focus on shungite stones or other crystals in your concentration meditation.

Antimicrobial uses. Shungite seems able to kill bacteria and other germs. This is mostly useful as a way to purify water but could also work for treating swimming pool water.

Health care technology. Shungite has nanoparticles, bits you can't see with the naked eye. But these tiny particles have a strong role in nanotechnology — creating things with atomic particles.

Remember those fullerenes? They might be able to carry unstable atoms inside themselves. These could be useful as contrast agents for testing, as in magnetic resonance imaging and X-ray imaging. Contrast agents are substances that you take to help the machines better see your body or cells.

Possible drug use. Fullerenes have antiviral activity when they’re made into certain kinds of drugs. You may hear one day that shungite fullerenes are helping to combat HIV and other viral diseases.

Fullerenes may also be used to make chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment. 

It's safe to place shungite stones in the complementary therapy category. A complementary therapy is something you do along with your regular medicine and treatments. You can use it to add to your health and wellness but not to replace your traditional plan of care. 

Shungite stones shouldn’t be used instead of medicine or other treatments. If you need help with anxiety or other mental health problems, or you have other serious health problems, it’s important to be treated by your doctor. 

Shungite stones can purify water and make it taste good, but there doesn't seem to be any particular health benefit to drinking shungite water. Still, if you want to try it, here's how:

  1. Put 10 grams of shungite stones (chips) in a plastic container along with 200 mL of tap or filtered water. Cover and shake it up (or mix) for 2 minutes. Pour out the water.
  2. Repeat this step four more times, with fresh water each time. This is to get the stones free of dirt.
  3. Mix the clean stones with 100 mL of water in a clean, sterilized container. The ratio of stones to water is 1:10, so you can add more stones and water to make a bigger batch.
  4. Let it sit for 5 days. Although most kits will say 3 days, we've extended this to 5 to get rid of heavy metals. Change the water each day.
  5. At the end of 5 days, the stones are ready for use. Add your desired amount of water and let it sit a few hours to overnight before drinking.
  6. Use the already treated stones to make more shungite water as needed.
  7. You'll need to replace the stones every 6 months to 2 years. The stones usually come with instructions on how often to replace them. Some kits suggest putting them out in the sun once a month for an hour to recharge.

 

 

 

Shungite stones are naturally occuring minerals that some people think have healing powers. They're mostly made up of carbon and have antibacterial and antiviral properties. So far, studies haven't shown they can cure people of any physical or mental problems.

What are the two types of shungite?

There are five types, but the two main types for sale are noble elite shungite and raw shungite. Elite is the purest type -- at least 90% carbon and the one used in healing rituals. 

Does shungite release heavy metals?

Yes, it can release heavy metals like nickel, copper, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium, and arsenic into water.