If you have yet to give the ultra delicious and nutrition ghee a chance, you’re in for a treat. Most people who have heard of ghee know that this concoction is closely related to butter and can be used as a healthy alternative in cooking. However, the uses of ghee actually extend far beyond the kitchen alone, and have been used in ancient therapies and treatments for thousands of years. So what is this fabulous ingredient? How can you incorporate the uses and benefits of ghee into your daily nutritional routine? Before we get into the versatility of ghee, let’s review some basics.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is commonly known as a type of clarified butter – this means that the milk solids and water that are naturally present in butter are removed, leaving only the butterfat. When this occurs, the ghee byproduct that’s left over is far different from it’s original butter form. For example, the remaining butterfat in ghee burns at a far higher temperature than butter due to the absence of the milk solids. This also means that ghee has a far lower amount of lactose than butter, also due to the removal of milk solids.
A Short History of Ghee
The use of ghee in parts of India dates back thousands of years, and is rooted in both spirituality and mythology that has endured through history. Due to the need to carry butter for long distances without preservatives, the creation of self-stable butter (Ghee) was born. This sacred fat finds its place in religious texts dating back to 1500BCE, such as India’s Dharmasutra law verses where ghee is mentioned as an integral component of religious rituals. In Hindu mythology, Prajapati (the lord of creatures) manifested ghee by rubbing his hands together, and created children pouring the ghee into the fire.
In ayurvedic medicine, ghee is held to a very high esteem, and is immensely valued for its many benefits on the body and the mind. According to the Mudita Institute, ghee is used in Ayurveda to increase the quality of Sattva (feelings of satisfaction and peace), sharpening cognitive ability, slowing the aging process, and so much more. Even in western modern medicine, moderate ghee consumption is recognized for several important health benefits.
So, what is this fabulous ghee used for?
1. Cooking, Cooking, Cooking with Ghee
Best believe that ghee is highly valued for its ability to help make a great dish! One of the reasons ghee is an ideal substitute for other cooking oils is due to its high smoking point. In comparing a grid of the most popular cooking oils and their burning points, ghee outranks them all – beating out coconut oil, canola oil, sesame oil, olive oil, and even lard. Just for point of reference, canola oil has the second highest smoking point at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, while ghee comes in at number one with a whopping 485 degrees Fahrenheit.
But not only is ghee a shelf-stable substitute for these cooking oil, it actually tastes fantastic in most dishes as well. From garlic scallop recipes to paleo lemon chicken and Bombay potatoes, ghee finds its place in a diversity of different dishes, spanning the savory and sweet spectrums. For more scrumptious dish ideas using ghee, check out these 7 creative ghee recipes.
2. Ayurvedic Ghee Massage
In Ayurveda, ghee is not only ingested, but provides many topical uses and benefits as well. According to Amrita Veda, this ingredient can be used for a full body massage as one rubs it into the scalp, along the joints, onto the chest, and rubbed deep into the muscles. This practice is said to help aid the natural release of peptides and endorphins our body synthesizes during muscle massages, and doing this regularly can help slow the aging process. When rubbed into the skin and absorbed, ghee often helps to aid in relaxation and the release of stress and tension from the body.
3. Ghee for Hair Care
Most commercial conditioners and shampoos are known to contain exhaustive lists of chemicals and byproducts that, in the long run, might cause more damage to our hair follicles than we know. But for many people with common hair and scalp problems, allowing an itchy, dry scalp or dandruff to continue is simply not an option. However, what most people don’t know is that ghee’s versatility as a beauty product also extends into the realm of hair care, providing valuable benefits such as significantly reducing dry scalp over time. Some users have even reported thicker hair after extended use, but further research must be performed to substantiate these claims.
Most beauty experts who use ghee as a hair product advise that it be massaged into the scalp and hair for 15 minutes once a day to boost hydration and blood circulation to the follicles. When rinsing the product out of your hair, use a very gentle shampoo to help remove the ghee, and wash out with warm water.
4. Bulletproof Coffee
This is truly one of my favorite personal uses of ghee. Bulletproof coffee is an awesomely nutritious mixture of brain octane oil (MCT oil), ghee, and coffee, and has even been featured in articles by Fast Company and Women’s Health Magazine for its pretty astounding health benefits. What this mixture essentially offers the body is a supercharged combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the healthy fats present in MCT oil, and the caffeine in coffee to provide your brain a boost of energy and nutrition.
Just in case you are unaware of the second ingredient in this concoction, MCT oil, it’s valuable to point out just how impressive the health benefits are for this substance as well. MCT oil is often extracted from coconut oil, and research shows that this oil is both effective for weight loss and obesity prevention. Due to the fact that this substance enters the cells easily without being broken down, research also outlines that MCT oil is quickly absorbed and used as an immediate source of energy by the brain. Paired with the healthy fats present in ghee, bulletproof coffee makes many people feel a healthy surge of both brain and body power when consumed.
Although recipes may vary, I typically mix one tablespoon of MCT oil and one tablespoon of ghee butter together with one mug of high-quality organic hot coffee. I used a bullet blender to effectively disperse both ingredients into the coffee (simple whisks don’t seem to be as effective for me). Try this for a few mornings and tell me it doesn’t change your life.
5. Ghee Infusion with Ayurvedic Herbs
Ghee by itself provides a serving of healthy fats that is known to have a number of nutritional health benefits. But it also proves to be immensely effective in aiding in the delivery of ayurvedic herbs throughout the body. According to Ayurveda.com, ghee is considered to be a yogavahi – a beneficial substance that helps to carry and deliver the medicinal properties of herbs into the tissues of the body. For example, some ghee-producing companies also offer products like Ashwagandha Ghee which contains infused powder from the herbal root Ashwagandha, used for health benefits ranging from anxiety relief and better sleep, to increased cognitive function and improved focus.
6. Relief for Burns and Intense Skin Irritation
Believe it or not, ghee is also commonly used in Ayurveda to aid in treating burns. Its use on minor burns or other skin irritations can produce a cooling effect on the skin. When using ghee to treat minor burns, applying Pipal and Bargad bark (mashed into a pulp) is also recommended as a beneficial additive.