Ah ghee. You simply cannot say “ghee” without. And this ancient food makes one’s insides smile as well. Highly regarded in India for ages for its abundance of benefits and uses, Ghee is truly an elixir in Ayurveda. Ingesting ghee is the offering of the finest fuel to our digestive fire – Agni.
Ghee and its Qualities
Ghee is clarified butter, which means it is the rendered fat from organic, unsalted, cultured butter. By cooking the butter over medium heat, the milk solids and impurities are removed and therefore safe to take for those who are lactose or casein intolerant.
Ghee’s qualities (heavy, slow, oily, liquid, dense, soft) give longevity to the body by pacifying the opposite (light, rough, and dry) qualities of Vata dosha, which are responsible for the aging process.
Smooth and nurturing, ghee lubricates the tissues of the body. The heavy quality of ghee pacifies Pitta and Vata, and is acceptable in moderation for Kapha.
Healing Properties of Ghee
Ghee has a unique and specific action – prabhava – for which it is highly revered: the ability to increase digestive fire – Agni – on which all nutrition depends and does so without aggravating Pitta, the fire element of the body. Second, Ghee is the only substance that takes on the properties of the herbs and spices it is processed with without losing its own qualities, which is why it is considered the ultimate elixir in Ayurveda.
From a Western perspective, Ghee has a high content of butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid that supports the health and healing of cells in the large and small intestines. Helpful bacteria in our colon convert dietary fiber and carbohydrates into butyric acid. When this bodily system is compromised, digestive issues arise. Research has shown that people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and other digestive issues benefit from ingestion of butyric acid.
Other benefits of Ghee include…
- Improves absorption, assimilation, and excretion
- Builds up the internal liquids of the body
- Nourishes ojas (the most refined element of digestion)
- Improves memory and intelligence
- Lubricates connective tissue
- Strengthens vision
- Improves skin luster and moisture
- Increases flexibility
- Ghee is a “yogavahi”: it carries the medicinal property of herbs to all seven tissues (dhatus) of the body
How do I use ghee?
Ideal for cooking, ghee does not burn unless heated excessively, and will not breakdown into carcinogenic free radicals like other oils. This means it is one of the safest oils to cook with!
Other ways to use ghee…
- Spread on toast
- Do a ghee cleanse
- Add to warm breakfast cereal, kitchari, or soup
- Add to coffee or chai to alleviate jittery affects of caffine
- Put on burns
- Use as a base for herbal salves
- Use on skin rashes
Ghee does not need to be refrigerated as the elements that cause butter to spoil are removed. Just use a clean, dry spoon when dipping into your ghee jar.
Stay tuned for our upcoming article on how to make ghee at home.