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  • Chandana Banerjee

Ghee Happy – Why Ayurveda Finds It Healing & Nourishing

In a time when everything fat-free and low-fat are considered good, it might seem incorrect to bring desi #ghee or clarified #butter into the conversation. That golden, buttery liquid that graced most Indian recipes during our Grandma’s times. Whether it’s the tempering to the dal, a generous dollop over curries or those delectable sweets that one couldn’t stop popping into one’s mouth, ghee was the foundation of every tasty dish. Unfortunately, with a rise in health myths (i.e. low-fat and zero-fat), most of us have started cutting down the use of #ghee.

Photo credit: Diet Doctor


It was while studying with an# Ayurvedic doctor in Pune that I re-discovered this treasure trove of culinary and medicinal goodness. There are plenty of reasons why our ancestors recommended #ghee and here are a few to work into our modern lives.


Please note: This article is NOT undermining the food values of vegans or those with lactose intolerance. If you are a vegan or have lactose intolerance, please ignore this article.


Qualities of ghee as per Ayurveda: Ghee, which is derived from unsalted butter derived from cow’s milk is known to be the purest form of fat. Here’s what Ayurveda has to say about the golden liquid.


1. According to the Susruta Samhita, a classic text of Ayurveda, ghee is supposed to be beneficial for the entire body, and it recommends its usage for treating problems stemming from an aggravation of the Pitta dosha.


2. As per Ayurveda, ghee is snigdha, which means oily and smooth and soft, which makes it nurturing and lubricating.


3. It is slow, heavy and dense, and helps pacify the effects of dry, light and rough qualities of Vata dosha. Using ghee in your food is highly recommended during the cold winter months, and for elderly people who are in the Vata stage of their lives.


4. Since ghee is guru or heavy, it decreases Pitta and Vata but increases Kapha. So, people with a predominance of Kapha dosha are recommended moderate use of ghee in their food.


5. Ghee is mridu or soft and used in Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments, Netra Basti and other treatments.



Nutrients in ghee:

Ghee is one of the highest food sources of butyric acid. It is also chock full of short, medium and long chain fatty acids, which are unsaturated and saturated. A dollop of golden cow’s ghee is the highest source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid, contains 9 phenolic antioxidants, and lots of minerals. It also is a good source of Omega 3 and 9 essential fatty acids as well as vitamins A, D, E and K.


Healing properties of ghee:

1. Several Ayurvedc treatments and medicines use ghee. From helping heal ulcers and gastritis to soothing fiery rashes to acting like a balm for burns and wounds, a little ghee goes a long way. I use ghee and turmeric as a homemade but potent medicine for canker sores, cracked skin and rashes.


2. Medicated ghee, where pure ghee is infused with herbs, has been used for years in India to treat wounds and ailments.


3. You can use ghee in Abhyanga in the winters and summers, when Vata and Pitta need soothing. Or, use a drop of it as a face and hand cream.

Photo credit: Meri Gaiya


4. Additionally, a teaspoon of ghee ladled over your food, is a good way to keep your Agni working well.


5. Yoga practitioners often massage their limbs with ghee to promote flexibility and suppleness in their connective tissues.


6. Ghee is known to increase the Agni, digestive fire, which helps in the correct assimilation of nutrients in the body.


7. Ghee is used in Panchakarma treatments to draw out ama or toxins from the tissues as well as the intestinal tract, and restore overall wellness by balancing the doshas.


Do you use ghee to heal and stay nourished? Feel free to share your recipes and tips with us.


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