– An Ayurvedic Perspective:
milk of cows is considered to possess the essence or sap
of all plants and Ghee is the essence of milk... When
we consider Ghee we are in the company of superlatives.
In India, Ghee has been so highly regarded for so many
things, for so long, that one is slightly embarrassed
to enter into this crowded river of praise. This is what
I have heard:
ingestion of Ghee is like offering the finest of fuels
into the fires of digestion-Agni. In accord with this,
Ghee builds the aura, makes all the organs soft, builds
up the internal juices of the body-Rasa, which are destroyed
by aging and increases the most refined element of digestion-Shukra
or Ojas, the underlying basis of all immunity and the
essence of all bodily tissues. Maya Tiwari
calls Ghee the single most ojas producing food on
earth. Ghee is known to increase intelligence--Dhi,
refine the intellect-Buddhi and improve the memory-Smrti.
Ghee kindles or increases the digestive fire- Agni, on
which all nutrition depends, it does so without aggravating
Pitta- the elemental functioning of fire within the body.
In fact, Ghee cools the body, essential in much of todays
world in which everything is overheating.
causes secretions and liquification in the dhatus-bodily
tissues that dissolve wastes allowing the functional intelligences
of the body-doshas to carry away toxins-ama (also known
as aam). The ingestion of Ghee is used in Panchakarma
specifically to first penetrate into and then dissolve
ama in the dhatus, allowing the wastes to be then carried
to the intestinal tract and then expelled.
is traditionally considered, that the older Ghee, the
better its healing qualities. 100-year-old Ghee is highly
valued in India and fetches a very high price. Such Ghee
was often kept in Temples in large vats and families often
pass on aged Ghee to their next generation to be used
is known as a substance that gives longevity… This is
because it has opposite qualities (heavy, slow, oily,
liquid, dense, soft), and thus pacifying effects, to the
light, dry and rough qualities of Vata dosha. It is the
increase of the qualities of Vata that are synonymous
with aging. Ghee, in a very sure and steady way, slows
the aging process by balancing the living one.
has the quality of snigda, oiliness, and unctuousness.
It is smooth, lubricated and nurturing. Ghee is thought
to make the voice soft and melodious.
is Guru, heavy. It increases the qualities of Kapha and
decreases Pitta and Vata, which are both light.
has the quality of mrdu, softness. In Ayurvedic Panchakarma
treatments, Ghee is the oil used on the eyes. In Netra
Basti, a small dam is built around the eyes and filled
with warm Ghee. Then, you open your eyes to its soothing
softness. It seems after that treatment, that you see
the world though a soft diaphanous curtain of love and
Properties of Ghee
ancient India, wells full of Ghee were especially for
those who suffered wounds... When a surgeon cuts open
a body, he only does so knowing that the body will be
able to heal itself. The surgeon cannot do this. Ghee
is known for the quality of Ropana- healing, and its effectiveness
in facilitating recovery from wounds. In Ayurveda, when
a person has a chronic peptic ulcer or gastritis, Ghee
is used to heal that ulcer inside the intestinal tract.
Ghee works wondrously on bedsores for the elderly or debilitated.
It can be applied for broken bones and bruises. It is
highly effective for all sorts of skin rashes. It is also
used on burns of both fire and chemicals. Once, I accidentally
got some sandalwood oil in my eye. It burned intensely
and I was unable to wash it out with a variety of eyewashes.
I spent hours in pain and finally I remembered to use
Ghee. Almost immediately, the Ghee pacified the burning
and the eye irritation ceased.
recently, a friend of mine who is a yoga instructor had
a pressure cooker blow up in his face, giving him second
and third degree burns. He immediately put some Ghee on
his face and went to the emergency room. They told him
that he would be scarred for life, that the burns would
take several months to heal and that he should take steroids
to help him (the body shuts down the production of testosterone
after burns). He declined to take the steroids and continued
to put on the Ghee, twice daily. After six days, he was
completely healed without scarring.
with obesity should be very frugal in their use of Ghee
and those with high ama should not take Ghee at all.
increases the overall strength, luster and beauty of the
sarira-the body. Let us look at a variety of ways:
on the skin, Ghee softens and strengthens, protects and
nourishes. Up until the last generation in India, there
used to be men who gave Ghee massages on the street. It
was always the preferred substance for the skin, but since
it was more expensive than oil it has come to be used
only for internal purposes. For generations, Indians have
used Ghee for cooking and as an added measure on top of
their food and as a medicine. In India, medicinal ghee
is passed on from one generation to the next. It was used
for old and young, for new babies (Mothers in India will
massage their children with Ghee) and for those in the
last days of their life. I massaged my Fathers body
with it before he died- He loved it. Sometimes, when he
could not sleep, I rubbed it on his feet and temples and
it soothed his agitation. It is considered it one of the
best substances for self-massage-Abhyanga.
Uses of Ghee
- For Body Massage-Abhyanga. Apply ghee all over the
body, rubbing into head, chest, limbs, joints and
orifices. This will bypass the digestive system and
allow the qualities of Ghee to penetrate directly
into the deeper tissues. It is said that 60% of what
is placed on the skin is absorbed into the body. We
literally eat what we put on our skin.
Western science has discovered that massaging the
skin creates endorphins or peptides, which enhance
the bodys immune system. Peptides are thought
to be the vehicle that the mind and body use to communicate
with each other, a literal chemistry of emotion. According
to the Charak Samhita, regular Abhyanga slows the
- Ghee is used in Purvakarma, (early Panchakarma)
where a small amount of Ghee is taken first thing
in the morning by the practitioner to oleate the internal
organs and dissolve the ama or toxic wastes
in the tissues, allowing them to be carried to the
digestive tract for elimination.
- Ghee is used as a carrier or yogavahi
for herbs and bhasmas
because of its supreme penetrating qualities and thus
ability to carry these substances deep into the dhatus
- One or two teaspoons first thing in the morning
followed immediately with hot water will promptly
produce a bowel movement. It will also warm the body
quickly. Two spoonfuls of Ghee in warm (non-homogenized)
milk before bedtime is soothing to the nerves and
lubricates the intestines and facilitates a bowel
movement in the morning.
- Ghee is excellent for cooking and sautéing or stir-frying.
Ghee has one of the highest flash points of all oils
and is very difficult to burn. In India, it is said
that food is incomplete without the use of Ghee.
- Ghee is excellent for a gargle-gandush, to improve
the health of the teeth and gums.
- Ghee can be used as a bath oil. Take two tablespoons
of Ghee and mix with several drops of an essential
oil of your choice.
- Ghee is excellent for scrapes and both chemical
and heat or fire burns. Ghee can be used in the eyes
for tiredness or fatigue.
- Ghee is an exquisite facial moisturizer.
- In India it is said that if a few drops of ghee
are placed in the nostrils then nosebleed can be checked.
If this is done twice in a day, then headache can
Ghee is Made in India and America
is the most refined end product of milk. (When you make
Ghee, you are concentrating the quality of the milk you
started with. This includes, antibiotics, hormones (rGBH),
chemical pesticides, etc. For this reason, always use
the best milk/butter you can find.) When you milk a cow,
you get whole milk. If you let this milk sit for a while,
cream rises to the top. If you skim off the cream and
then churn it, after a while and all of a sudden, the
fat globules will begin to stick to each other and form
butter. What is left over is buttermilk.
America today, very little butter is churned the old fashioned
way. Most modern dairies, even many organic
ones, no longer churn their cream to make butter. In a
typical dairy in America, the cream is now pushed (extruded)
through a fine mesh screen in which the heavier and larger
molecules of butter are held on one side of the screen
while the smaller molecules of buttermilk pass on through.
I recently asked an Ayurvedic Teacher-Vaidya about what
difference this makes. He said that butter made without
churning is lacking in a quality of Fire-Agni. He even
went further in his consideration of difference; the home-based
Indian culture churns their cream with a hand churn, rolling
it back and forth between their hands. This back and forth
action, he said, imparts a particular balancing quality
to the Ghee- instead of the one way churning of a gear
I have pointed out above, most of the butter made in America
today is not even churned. When we consider the process
of butter and Ghee making at this level, we are in the
realm of subtlety, but it is in exactly this realm (the
subtle) that what is pure and purifying-sattvic is found.
is one very important difference in the way Ghee was and
is made in India. The Indians start out with milk from
a cow, just like in America. But, they do not let the
cream rise to the top and skim it off as we do in the
West. Instead, and here comes the key difference- they
culture the milk with yogurt, allowing it to sit for 4-5
hours, just before it becomes completely soured. Then
they churn the whole milk. From that point on, the process
is more or less the same.
culturing with yogurt introduces another form of Fire-Agni
into the substance of refining the milk into butter and
I have said, in my recent visit to modern day India, it
was very hard to find high quality and pure cow Ghee.
The commercial milk, cream and butter there are now homogenized
and pasteurized or now ultra-pasteurized (This is a process
whereby milk is heated to a higher temperature than pasteurization
for a shorter period of time. This kills and destroys
various living substances/enzymes in the milk thus prolonging
shelf life. Ultra pasteurized milk can keep un-refrigerated
for over a month). According to Ayurvedic Vaidyas I have
consulted with, all of these factors increase the Vata
(air and ether/destructive, catabolic, drying, rough)
qualities in what was originally a very Kapha (earth and
water, building, oily, tonifying, anabolic) substance-milk.
Some of these processes, like homogenization, make the
milk, and thus the cream and butter, indigestible. One
of the things you can look for in milk and cream is the
sticky quality-picchila, one of the gunas of Kapha. It
will be lacking in processed milk products.
America, like India, there is a similar theme to the story.
Although organic dairies are appearing all over the country,
many of them make their butter by extrusion. Furthermore,
they homogenize and ultra-pasteurize their milk (This
is certainly not true of all milks available, but, like
in Vrndavan, India, the tides of ignorance are increasing
and the quality of milk and nutrition is decreasing,
back to making Ghee. . . Once you have obtained your butter,
you heat it in a stainless steel or enamel pot, bringing
it to a boil. I believe that it is best to make your Ghee
in stainless steel heavy pots, rather than aluminum because
of the toxicity. It is best even to avoid thin stainless
steel. This is because a heavier pot will distribute the
heat of the fire more evenly, surrounding the Ghee. Always
try to use real fire rather than an electric range (This
is again in the realm of subtlety and sattva that I referred
to earlier). There is a quality of Agni that lends itself
and pervades a substance cooked on flame that is not there
when cooked on electricity. Because I could not understand
the difference between the heat of a fire
and the heat of an electric range, I asked
several Vaidyas about this in India. They all simply said
that fire was a superior (more sattvic) way to cook food.
While I personally still cannot explain that to anyone,
that is the way I do it.
is very clear to me that it is most important to create
and enjoy a beautiful and positive environment when you
are making Ghee. This subtle recommendation is perfectly
in line with cooking Ghee on an open fire- it makes
the Ghee begins to boil, turn it down to the lowest flame
at which it will continue to boil. As it boils, moisture
evaporates off it and it will begin to clarify-
the butter will turn from cloudy yellowish liquid to a
more golden color. Whitish cloudy milk solids will rise
to the top and sink to the bottom. Do not stir it. After
an hour and half to several hours, depending on the amount
and the size of the pot and the amount of Ghee compared
to the flame, your Ghee will be ready. The moment Ghee
is ready is very critical. If you cook the
Ghee too little, you will be left with moisture in the
Ghee and it will lack the exquisite taste and qualities
that it can develop, also, it will tend to spoil or sour.
If you cook it too much, it will burn and impart a certain
nutty flavor to the Ghee. This does not ruin the Ghee
at all, but it is to be noticed, so that over time you
can capture the perfect Ghee to be experienced
between these two extremes.
the Ghee is done, you skim off the top light crust of
whitish milk solids. These and the heavier ones at the
bottom of the pot are traditionally used to make sweets.
Children in India love them and always plead with their
Mothers to have the leftovers when Ghee is made.
you pour the golden, sweet-smelling liquid through layered
cheesecloth- to catch any last impurities into a bottle,
leaving the slightly burned milk solids (caramelized lactose)
on the bottom of the pot you cooked it in (Ghee has no
lactose or milk sugars in it). Be sure to not close the
glass jar into which you pour the hot Ghee until it comes
to room temperature. The reason for this is that there
should not be any moisture from condensation that may
form on the inside of the jar. It is moisture that spoils
Ghee, allowing a mold to grow and causing it to go bad.
This is the reason that you always use a clean and dry
spoon to take your Ghee out of its container. It is also
a reason not to refrigerate your Ghee. One, because it
is not necessary and two, it causes condensation to form
inside the jar as you take it in and out of the refrigerator.
is best to make Ghee on the waxing fortnights of the moon
as the moon represents the Mother and nurturing and all
the best qualities of milk and butter are energized at
this time. Regarding time and season, the quality of Ghee
will change as the time of year and the diet
of the cows change. Not all milk cows in America are given
green pastures to graze on. Even those, which are allowed
to graze in the fields, often do not do so all year round.
In winter, there are many days that the cows are not able
to go out in the pastures and there is more hay and silage
in their diet. This will
change the quality of the milk, butter and Ghee. I have
noticed that the more the cows graze in the fields on
grass, the more yellow is the Ghee. This yellow
is the result of more chlorophyll in the butter.
making of Ghee is a very beautiful and peaceful experience.
The sound of softly boiling butter, the pouring of the
thick golden liquid into bottles; this wonderful smell
permeates the space.
India, Ghee is made from both Cow and Buffalo milk. If
we consider the qualities of both of these animals, we
can see why the Ghee of Cows is to be preferred. If we
look at the bodies of a Buffalo and a cow, the buffalo
is more heavily muscled; it is a denser animal in its
makeup. Cows have a more moderate make-up of fat. The
Ghee of a Cow is in liquid form at body temperature. The
Ghee of a Buffalo is still slightly solid. Buffalo will
eat almost any food, even spoiled food, while Cows in
their natural environment, will turn away from such fare.
Buffalos are often quite dirty and smell more strongly
than Cows. Cows tend to be clean and like little dirt
on their bodies. Cows smell quite good as I have experienced,
when I stopped to pet and smell them on the streets of
India where they roam about, ubiquitously, slowly and
peacefully. Finally there is the striking difference in
temperament between a Cow and Buffalo. Cows are far gentler
in nature. Buffalos are comparatively more stubborn and
aggressive. Because of these qualities and more, Buffalo
milk and Ghee are considered more dulling-tamasic, while
Cow milk and Ghee are considered more pure and purifying-sattvic.
I asked my Indian acquaintances why there is a growing
use of Buffalo milk and ghee over Cow milk and Ghee, they
all said, It is because the Buffalo give more milk.
Furthermore, the Indian peasants seek the nourishment
of Buffalo Ghee, which has a far higher fat content than
in Vrndavan, the home of Sri Krishna, where he himself
was a cowherd, protector of the cows-Govinda and the divine
lover of the Gopis-cowherdesses, I was usually unable
to find anything but Buffalo Ghee in the marketplace.
You can tell the difference because Buffalo Ghee is white
and Cow ghee is yellow.
Ghee is used in lamps in temples and pujas all over India.
It is said that the light of a Ghee lamp is more beautiful
and brilliant than any other light. The light of burning
Ghee is said to ward off negativity and evil influence.
is nourishing and healing. Ghee is steady and dependable
and always supportive of life and living. Ghee brings
an excess of goodness wherever and whenever it is appreciated
and used. I am thankful for a substance that of all the
foods I know is most like a Mother.
this wonderful nectar!
Malakoff & Gilda Zucolella of Ancient Organics
to Learning Center Home)