For thousands of years, ghee has been used in everything from lamp fuel to healing ointments. It has also long been a staple in kitchens from around the world. In India, ghee stands behind only wheat and rice as dietary staples.
A big part of the reason ghee was and is used so eponymously in India: the hot weather. Southern India and other tropical areas where use ghee simply because it stands up to the heat. While butter is near universal, ghee evolved in regions where it made sense as a food staple due to its shelf stability, then it became so much more--medicine for the body and the soul.
A Healing Substance
Ghee is an integral ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine, often used as a fat soluble carrier for nutrients in herbs and other substances.
It’s historical list of applications as a medicinal agent is long. It’s used as a moisturizer, an anti-inflammatory, burn salve, and to lubricate/soften hardened tissues throughout the body. It’s even said to increase longevity and ward off disease. Safe to say, the aromatic nature of ghee is a health benefit in and of itself.
On a broad level, grassfed ghee is said to encourage fat metabolism and weight loss due to the high levels of Tonalin CLA, supports stable moods and consistent energy levels, and boosts the body’s natural defenses against harmful bacteria. Ghee is also loaded with essential items like butyric acid, an essential component to a healthy digestive tract. In addition, it includes short-, medium- and long-chain fatty acids (used by the body immediately, as energy), Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids; vitamins A, D, E K; plus many more antioxidants and minerals.
The Sacred Fat
Ghee is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, the Dharmasutra (an ancient Indian law book), and in the Rig Veda in approximately 1500 B.C.E.
In Hindu mythology, ghee was created when Prajapati, the lord of creatures, churned it with his hands, and used it to spawn his own offspring. In short, ghee is tied into the most fundamental acts of creation.
There is no doubting ghee’s religious significance, given that nearly all of the most important Hindu ceremonies--from birth through to death. Religious images and statues are even cleaned with ghee, and holy lamps are fueled by it--a well-intended sacrifice enshrined in the immortal lines of the aforementioned sacred text, the Rig Veda:
This is the secret name of Butter:
“Tongue of the gods,” “navel of immortality.”
We will proclaim the name of Butter.
While a significant amount of ghee made and sold in India is made from buffalo milk butter, only ghee made from cow’s butter (must be grassfed!) has religious significance.
Consider yourself encouraged to learn more about ghee, a super food proving that some of the healthiest foods are also the tastiest, and that sometimes the wisdom of the ancients is, indeed, very wise.