The word Ghee is evolved from Sanskrit word Ghruta. Ghee is a common Indian name for clarified butter-fat. The origin of ghee making probably lies far beyond recorded history. The word itself stems from the old Sanskrit term ‘Ghr’ which means bright or to make bright. When sprinkled on fire, Ghee enhances its brightness merged with cause. Butter-fat was later christened Ghruta, which evolved into ghee.
Preparation of Ghee
In India, considerable amount of ghee is prepared by housewives at home by traditional methods. Ghee is also produced on cottage and commercial scale. Ghee may be produced through heat clarification of cream or via conversion into butter, followed by heat desiccation. At home, housewives prepare ghee using cream obtained by skimming-off the thin semisolid layer formed at the air liquid interface of milk which is heated above 90°C. When cream in sufficient quantity has been collected, it is mixed with equal quantity of cold water and churned. Granules of butter formed during churning are skimmed off and collected in a suitable container and heat-clarified to obtain ghee. Traditionally, ghee is produced both on the domestic scale by first converting milk into curd by fermentation process (Lactobacilli), churning curd to produce butter and subjecting butter to heat clarification to yield the final product.
Health benefits of Ghee
1. Action On the Brain
Brain is one of the main sites that ghee acts. Mostly fat soluble substances and alcohol soluble substances can cross the blood brain barrier. Ghee is a fat. Hence it can cross the Blood Brain Barrier. Ghee acts on the brain cells and increases the receptive power, cognitive power, and remembering power. Brain development takes place mostly during the childhood. So giving 1 teaspoon of ghee everyday especially during this age, will enhance the intellectual power of brain. The effect is multiplied a 100 times if medicated ghee like Brahmi Ghritam, Saraswata Ghritam etc. are used. Wonderful effects have been seen in children whose mile stones of development was retarded. In Brain development retarded cases, ghee like Kalyanaka, Paishachika, Brahmi Ghrita brings good results. If given in normal children, it will enhance the growth of brain, thus making, child sharper, smarter and with good memory. Ghee also has immense effects on the psychiatric complaints. People with psychiatric complaints like mood disorders, schizophrenia etc. have good results with Kalyanakam, Paishachika, Maha Kalyanakam, Mahapaishachikam Ghritam etc. depending on condition of patient.
2. Action on Agni
Ghee increases Agni. Agni is that factor which does bio-chemical transformations in body. It may be hormones, enzymes or co-factors. Daily taking 1 teaspoon of ghee on empty stomach or before meals with warm water in normal healthy state will result in proper production of Agni, thereby making the bio-chemical transformations appropriate.
3. Action on immunity
Ghee increases the resistance power of a person thereby preventing him from health problems. This has especially been seen when Indukantham, Amruthaprasham Ghritam etc. are given.
4. Action against allergy
Ghee is a best anti-allergic substance. It has been found that people who were given Indukantham Ghritam, Mahatiktakam Ghritam etc. where found to have very little allergic reactions of any kind like excess sneezing, itching around the eyes, allergic asthma, allergic dermatitis etc.
5. Action on GIT
Gastro-Intestinal Tract Ghee smoothes and nourishes the mucosa thereby preventing the formation of gastric ulcer. It also heals the ulcer in stomach. This also reduces hyperacidity and prevents the burning sensation in chest. Ghee is also good for people who have constant gas formation due to the persistent gastritis. It also makes the digestion normal and increases the quality and functions of the gastric and pancreatic juices thereby providing complete digestion and thus prevents disorders of digestion.
6. Action on Male & Female Reproductive System
Ghee acts on the male reproductive system. Only Fat soluble substances can pass the blood testis barrier. Ghee increases the sperm count, increases the seminal fluid amount and increases the active motility of sperms. In many infertility cases where the reason is due to the defects in male, treatment with medicated ghee like Phala Sarpis, Kalyanakam Ghritam, Dadimadi Ghritam etc have brought good results. Ghee also has immense action on the female reproductive system. It is usually the medicine of choice in common gynecological conditions like menstrual abnormalities, infections of uterine tract, infertility, repeated abortions, uterine prolapse and hormonal imbalance induced uterine and vaginal complaints etc. Usually used medication are Phala Sarpis, Dadimadi Ghritam, Satavaryadi Ghritam, Kalyanakam Ghritam depending upon the condition. Ghee is also of special importance during pregnancy i.e. ante-natal care. It helps in proper fetal development.
7. Action on eyes Internal and external use of ghee is recommended in eye disorders
Internal use of 1 tsp Triphala ghee daily as well as external application of one drop of cow’s ghee or Triphala ghee on the eyes at night will improve vision. It will prevent all the eye diseases especially the refractive errors like myopia, hypermetropia, ambylopia. Usually in cases with retinal eye complaints, Ayurveda advises to do Netra Tarpana (therapeutic application of ghee to the eyes) which nourishes retina.
8. Action on throat
Ghee is good for the throat. It is especially good for making the voice good, smooth and tuned. It is especially indicated for singers and for those who talk for a long time.
9. Action on cuts and burns
It was in earlier times a practice that when ever there is a fresh burn people would immediately apply ghee. Similarly in a small cut ghee with honey are applied to the cut area. It would heal the area very fast. In long standing ulcers like venous ulcers, application of Jatyadi Ghritam and honey has proven results. This Jatyadi Ghrita is also an anti-microbial. It prevents the secondary bacterial attack. It is also used in fissures and fistulas for healing of the wound.
10. Action on Fevers
Main reason for the increased susceptibility to fever is decreased body resistance. Ghee enhances the immune power, increases the body strength and prevents the person from getting recurrent fever. In this context, Indukantham Ghritam is very special.
11. Action on Joints
Ghee lubricates the joints and makes them functionally good. In treatment of osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis ghee is important. It strengthens the back bone, knee joint etc. thereby reducing pain and other complaints.
12. Actions as an anti aging agent (Rasayana)
Ghee is a good anti-aging agent. Consumption of ghee daily will increase longevity as well as delay aging. Thus ghee is the best for enhancing Dhee (grasping capacity), Dhriti (memory retaining capacity), Smriti (memory recall capacity), Medha (intellectual power), Agni (digestive fire), strength, life span, semen, and eye sight. It is said to be beneficial for children, old age people, and who are desirous for baby, glow and good voice. It is the best for the treatment of feeble, burns and wounds. It balances Vata and Pitta. Ghee is the best among all fats. It is cold in potency (Sheeta Virya) and stabilizing the age and can have thousands of actions if given with proper combination. Medicinal properties of pure cow Ghee improves on preserving for long. Old ghee (at least 1 year old) cures epilepsy, unconsciousness, brain disorders, ear disorders, eye disorders and vaginal disorders and cleans & heals wounds if properly used.
This article is written by Vaidya Darpan Gangil B.A.M.S, M.D, Ayurvedic Physician and Head of Pharmacy at Chakrapani Ayurveda Clinic & Research Center.