Ghee or clarified butter is one of the staple foods in Ayurveda. It is the essence of butter used as food, medicine and transporting medium that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the seven dhatus or tissues of the body. It is known as a substance that enhances longevity, lubricates connective tissues and gives vigor and strength. Ghee nourishes Ojas, an essence that governs the tissues of the body and balances the hormones. It strengthens the nerve system, improves memory, kindles the digestive system, aids elimination and supports the cardiovascular system.
In small quantities ghee is good for all three doshas, but people with predominant Vata and Pitta dosha, babies, those who want children, as well as elderly people will have most benefit by introducing ghee into their everyday meals and rituals.
Ghee makes the body more flexible, joints lubricated and skin glow. It is an amazing aid for injuries, wounds and gastro-intestinal inflammations such as ulcers and colitis.
Ghee is the end result of a simple but careful process of cooking sweet butter. During this process the moisture, milk solids and impurities are being removed ensuring the ghee has prolonged shelf life and should be kept at room temperature. Ayurveda holds that healing properties of ghee are improving with aging. In India up to 100 years old ghee can be found in temples and tombs used for medicinal purposes and religious ceremonies.
As a result of the clarification process, ghee qualities differ from those of butter. Its structural components are short, medium and long chain fatty acids, both unsaturated and saturated. Science supports properties of clarified butter which contains butyric acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties. Butyric acid has been also found to be helpful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite containing saturated fats, ghee reduces “bad” LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and enhances “good” HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Despite its reputation we should keep in mind that cholesterol is a lipid from which steroids such as sex hormones are manufactured, and it is a structural component of cells membrane. Thus a good source of cholesterol plays an essential part in a well balanced diet. For people of good health and strong digestive capacity 1 teaspoon of ghee per meal is enough. Since it doesn’t contain casein and lactose ghee is not likely to affect people with a dairy or casein intolerance. People with high cholesterol levels as well as those who suffer from obesity should be cautious in using ghee.
Ghee can be used in place of butter and due to its high smoking point makes an ideal cooking and frying oil. Used in cooking, ghee supports the digestive fire resulting in a better absorption and assimilation of nutrients. It can be used for body massage, especially for Vata people with very dry skin or during the Vata period of year, fall. Ghee also serves as a base for herbal ointments and vehicle for transporting medicinal formulas deep into the tissues. Ghee can be used as well for lamps with a cotton flicker. It gives beautiful clear bright light often used for meditation practice.
Why we love ghee:
- alleviates Vata and Pitta
- it is a digestive
- slows down aging effects
- enhances longevity
- increases immunity
- makes body flexible
- lubricates joints
- gives luster and soft appearance
- clears eyes and improves sight
- strengthens mental functions; improves memory and intelligence
- aids healing of wounds, skin inflammations and burns
- supports cardiovascular system
- reduces LDL cholesterol
- alkalizes the blood
- supports the elimination of toxins from deep tissues
- carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the seven dhatus or tissues of the body
- pacifies Pitta and Vata and is acceptable, in moderation, for Kapha
- makes skin, hair and nails glow
How to use ghee:
- for healing and cleansing purposes take 1 or 2 teaspoons of ghee in the morning, on an empty stomach
- ghee alone or in combination with honey can be applied directly on wounds, burns, inflamed areas or blisters
- can be used as a wonderful massaging oil for people with excessively dry or inflamed skin
- due to its high smoking point use it for cooking, baking, stir-frying and deep frying
- fry your spices in ghee until they release their aroma; their properties will be carried by ghee into all seven tissues of the body
- due to its sweet taste one teaspoon makes a wonderful addition to cooked grains and/or steamed vegetables
- ghee should never be refrigerated and if prepared correctly will last for years on your kitchen shelf (hard to prove! ☺)
How to make ghee at home
Ayurveda considers ghee as one of the most sattvic foods. Sattvic foods promote peace, inner harmony, non-harm, positivity, wisdom, growth and expansion of consciousness. When milk is obtained with love and care from healthy, grass fed cows, whose calves have been served first, it contains the essence of these energies. And ghee is the essence of milk – the essence of the essence.