Oils--A Vaidya's Perspective

The Ghee was commonly known as ghritam in Vedic period. In ancient period, people were using ghee for various purposes - as food product and also as therapeutic aspect, unfortunately today people are not having this therapeutic knowledge of this gift of nature and on the other hand due to improper knowledge people are having fear and myths for its consumption. Ghee is a yellowish white fatty substance, obtained from the milk of mammals. Ayurveda considers Milk of eight kind of mammals safe for human beings, viz, cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, camel, elephant, mare and woman. Ghee can be prepared from this eight kind of milk are also safe for human. In normal condition, cow’s milk ghee is considered to be the best for human consumption.  

Ayurveda considers ghee as madhura rasa with Vata and Pitta dosha pacifying qualities.  It is good for growth of the all seven dhatus in the body (body fluids, blood, flesh, fat, bones, marrow and semen). It is best suited to people of every age, children, young and old alike. Ghee makes all sensory organs more efficient. It also enhances the growth of hair, formation of bones (rejoins broken bones in injury), growth of hair and improves skin complexion. It is made of all five elements – prithvi, jala, agni, vayu and akasha, which are basic elements of the life.

Different scholars of Ayurveda has described various uses and benefits from the Ghee. Maharshi Charak says ghee is stimulates appetite. It balances Vata and Pitta dosha, reduces poison in the body, increases memory and intelligence. Ghee is considered as the best among all fat substances and thousands of formulas for medicated ghee are described in Charak Samhita for the treatment of various illness. 

Acharya Sushruta says ghee is sweet, soft, gentle and beneficial to the body in general. It increases jatharagni in the body, but it is also heavy to digest. In addition to Charaka’s comments, he suggest ghee for complexion, beauty and glow. Acharya Vagbhatta describes its healing properties and special benefits in the cases of burns and weapon wounds.

There are four kinds of fat described in Ayurveda; Ghee, oil, Vasa (fat from animals) and bone marrow. Ghee is considered as the best among all fats, due to its characteristics to absorb all the medicinal properties of the herbs with which it is fortified, without loosing its own qualities.  It is heard that only cow's milk ghee can increase HDL (that is harmless to the body), all other types of fat normally increase LDL more. Ayurveda describes Ghee as antiseptic, antibiotic and best preservative. There is no need for any other preservative for Ghee.

In Panchkarma treatments – a specialized branch of treatment in Ayurveda, there is one ‘Snehana’ therapy. Under this therapy fats are normally used for therapeutic aspects. External applications and internal uses of different kind of fat are described here. Medicated or plain (pure) ghee is used here according to disease or the condition of the person. Ghee is used here to support - the treatments of diseases, the rejuvenative treatments (rasayana) or the aphrodisiac treatments (vajikaran). Ghee can be used for treatments like – abhyang – massage, Akshitarpan (treatment for eys), Gandush (Gargle – full mouth filled with ghee), Pichu – ghee swab application etc. Internally  it can be recommended for 3 to 7 days in increasing doses. The dose can be up to 10 ml to 150 ml per day, according to disease or person’s condition of the body.  

Ghee in therapeutic uses: 

In treatment of Headache : 

Several cases of non-specific headaches or migraine were asked to consume 50 to 70 gram lukewarm ghee, early morning either plain –with milk or as ‘Shira’ – a sweet preparation for 7 days. Clinically after one week majority of the patients were noted significant benefits. Headaches due to Pitta and Vata dosha can be controlled with ghee. Particularly in summer, Pittaj shirahshul and Suryavart headache this simple experiment shows very good results. 


Dr. Prerak Shah, ayulink@hotmail.com