Importance of Ghee in Ayurveda
Among the four types of oily material, ghee is the best one in Ayurveda, because of its power to assimilate effectively the properties of the ingredients added to it without losing its own properties.
Ghee is one among the Maha Snehas – four main fats.
Ayurveda explains about four types of fats that are suitable for human consumption.
Ghee – ghee of cow, goat, buffalo etc. Out of which cow ghee is considered as the best.
Oil – Sesame oil, Mustard oil, Coconut oil, etc.
Vasa – animal fat
Majja – bone marrow of animals.
Ayurveda explains that, out of these four, cow ghee is the best fat. (Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 16th chapter).
Ghee is considered as best among all fats because
It is sweet in taste and hence liked by many people
It does not cause burning sensation (For example, oils like sesame oil or mustard oil can cause burning sensation)
Ghee is naturally congenial to the body right from the time of birth.
Process of making ghee
Cow’s milk collected from a healthy cow is boiled. This is to ensure that the milk is free from bacteria and is safe for consumption. Once the milk has cooled down, a spoonful of curd is added to it and stirred gently. Store this mix in a warm place overnight. Once the curd is set, place it in a cool place before the churning process. The curd thus formed is churned using a wooden churner. During this process, the curd separates into butter and buttermilk. This butter which gets collected at the top of the vessel is collected and heated in a pan over medium flame. The butter has to boil till the entire water content evaporates and there is a visible layer of solids at the bottom of the pan. This ghee is filtered and stored in a dry, air-tight container.
Traditional Method 1
The milk is boiled first
Set it to curdle
Then churned to extract butter
Butter is heated to get ghee.
Traditional Method 2
The milk is boiled first
The cream part is separated and collected.
Then churned to extract butter.
The day before ghee preparation, the butter is added with a tablespoon of curd for fermentation.
The next day, the fermented butter is heated to get ghee.
Western method of preparation of clarified butter (ghee)
Collect the cream from milk.
Heat it to prepare ghee.
Difference between Indian and western methods
In the first and second Indian methods, there is involvement of process of fermentation.
In the first method, the curd is prepared first with fermentation, then butter, then ghee.
In the second method, the fermentation to the milk cream is done just a day before.
Ghee prepared with fermentation process is less Kapha increasing. Hence, contributes less to cholesterol.
Ghee prepared with fermentation process is easier and light to digest.
Comparatively, clarified butter is harder to digest.
Effect of Ghee on Doshas and body tissues
Ghee is sweet, soft, cold in potency, slightly coating, brings about oleation, effective in flatulence, psychiatric disorders, epilepsy, abdominal colic and fullness and fever. It mitigates Vata and Pitta. It improves digestive fire, memory, intelligence, voice, lustre, skin softness, immunity, strength, lifespan, eye strength. It acts as an aphrodisiac, relieves sins, poverty, toxicity and evil spirits. In conditions involving Vata vitiation, Ghee is to be drunk.
Due to its cold property, ghee mitigates Pitta, due to oiliness it mitigates Vata and due to processing with other medicinal herbs, it mitigates Kapha. Among all the medicines to mitigate aggravated Vata and Pitta, ghee is best. Upon consuming ghee routinely, ghee wins over Pitta due to sweet, cold and mildness, which are against the qualities of Pitta. Drinking ghee relieves the colic pain of Pitta origin. Ghee suits to those, aspiring intelligence and good memory power. Ghee is a great antitoxic substance.
– Ghee is having taste and other qualities similar to milk, but it improves digestive power.
– In the disorders occurring due to suppression of hunger, ghee should be taken at the beginning and at the end of meals.
– Ghee exhibits thousands of actions based on the processing.
– Ghee consumption should be done daily. For the purpose of Ghritana (oleation), ghee is administered at the end of Varsha Rutu or in Sharad Rutu.
– Oil is heavier to digest when compared to ghee, fat (vasa is heavier to digest when compared to oil and marrow (majja) is heavier to digest when compared to fat).
– When Pitta alone is involved in a disease process, then ghee should not be administered, especially so in Ama condition. Otherwise, it may lead to severe conditions like unconsciousness.
Ghrita Kalpana – Processing Ghee
Ghrita kalpana plays an important role in treatment both internally and externally. If taken internally it enters the systemic circulation and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, thereby strengthens or stimulates the central nervous system. When used for topical application, it has the potential to diffuse locally into the soft tissues and produce the desired therapeutic action.
General rules of manufacturing ghee in Ayurveda
The basic ingredients of Ghrita kalpana are Kalka, Ghrita and Drava dravya. Drava dravyas such as water, swarasa, kwatha, ksheera etc, are commonly used for Ghrita kalpana.
RATIO OF BASIC INGREDIENTS
If the ratio or proportion of the kalka, Ghrita and drava dravyas are not mentioned in a yoga(formulation) then 1 part of kalka, 4 parts of Ghrita and 16 parts of drava dravya (or) the kalka 1/4th of Ghrita and drava dravya 4 times of Ghrita should be taken.
RATIO OF BASIC INGREDIENTS
Kalka (bolus of herbs)- 1 part
Ghee – 4 parts
Dravadravya (decoction, herb juice, milk, water etc, according to the classical reference) – 16 parts
SAMANYA GHRITA NIRMANA VIDHI
The krama (order) of Ghrita sadhana vidhi is
Murchitha ghrita should be taken.
Next decoction or any drava dravya is added to it.
Then if milk is mentioned in any of the formulations, it should be added
After adding milk, kalka (paste of dravyas mentioned in the formulation) is added.
Gandha dravya if mentioned in the formulation is added next to the addition of kalka. Usually, gandha dravya is added as patra paka or at the final stage while filtering or sometimes during bottling.
In this krama, the ingredients are added and subjected to mild heat (fire) till the Ghrita paka siddhi lakshanas are seen, such as phenodgama (appearance of froth) or phenasanthi (Absence of froth) for oil and ghee respectively, nirjalatwam (devoid of moisture), varthivath (paste can be rolled in form of wick) and appearance of good colour, smell and taste.
Stages Of Ghrita Kalpana
The entire pharmaceutical process is classified into 3 main stages
STAGE 1 – POORVA KARMA
STAGE 2 – PRADHANA KARMA
STAGE 3 – PASCHAT KARM0A
STAGE 1(OR) POORVA KARMA
Collection of dravyas
Selection of the patra (vessel)
Selection of darvi (ladle)
Murchana of Ghrita (oil or ghee)
Preparation of drava dravya (swarasa, kwatha, dadhi, kanji, etc.)
Preparation of kalka
STAGE 2 (OR) PRADHANA KARMA
Agni – maintenance of heat
Ghrita paka- processing of oil or ghee
Checking of Ghrita paka
STAGE 3 (OR) PASCHAT KARMA
Filtering the processed Ghrita
Addition of gandha dravya or patra paka
Bottling and storage
STAGE 1 Poorva Karma
COLLECTION OF DRAVYAS
Dravyas should be collected from the appropriate habitat and season.
Dravyas should be devoid of diseased condition and should be collected after following pooja karmas and reciting mantras as told in classics.
After collecting it should be washed thoroughly to remove the physical impurities.
SELECTION OF PATRA (VESSEL)
The vessel should be selected in such a way that it should not react with the ingredients used for Ghrita paka
Usually iron vessels, earthen vessels were used during ancient times.
Now-a-days stainless steel vessels and tin-coated copper vessels are used for various preparations in many of the pharmacies.
Precautions should be taken when tin coated copper vessels are used because when the coated layer of the tin goes off, it is sure that copper reacts with the ingredients used for Ghrita paka.
The vessel must be strong enough to withstand the temperature.
It should be wide enough with proper depth in order to avoid the spilling of oil while processing.
After selecting the vessel it should be made sure that it is cleaned thoroughly and sterilized properly
SELECTION OF DARVI (LADLE)
The darvi should be made out of strong metal like iron etc..and should not react with the ingredients.
It should be long enough with a broad end at one side to stir the contents while processing to avoid the ingredients from carbonization.
Before use, it should be cleaned and sterilized.
The darvi should withstand the temperature.
MURCHANA OF GHRITA
It is the preliminary treatment of Ghritas. So the lakshanas such as nirjalatvam, nirmalatvam, and the other Ghrita sidhi lakshanas should be tested to confirm the murchana of Ghrita.
A clear-cut description of the method of MURCHANA is explained by Govinda Das, the author of Bhaishajya Ratnavalli in 5/1285.
The drugs and its quantities to be taken as the kalkadravya is been clearly explained for ghritha murchana.
The herbs used in Ghrita murchana are – triphala, musta, haridra and matulunga swarasa.
The main aim of murchana are
1. to avoid ama doshas.
2. to remove the durgandha.
3. to potentiate the Ghrita, to accept the active principles of ingredients during Ghrita paka.
PREPARATION OF DRAVA DRAVYA
Drava dravya is very important for Ghrita kalpana, without which it is quite difficult to incorporate maximum active principles of the ingredients into the Ghrita.
Drava dravyas like kwatha (decotion), ksheera (milk), dadhi(curd), takra (butter milk), kanji(gruel), mamsa rasa(meat soup), laksha rasa etc., are routinely used.
Generally the quantity of drava dravya is four times of Ghrita. If the drava dravyas are ksheera, dadhi, takra and mamsa rasa then water four times in addition to the normal quantity of the drava dravya should be added.
When specific drava dravya is not mentioned in a formulation then water four times to that of Ghrita is added for samyak paka lakshanas.
When the drava dravyas are five or more than five, then each drava dravya should be equal to the quantity of the Ghrita.
If the number of drava dravya is less than five then each drava dravya should be of an equal fraction to that of the total quantity of drava dravya in the formulation (or) each drava dravya should be four times to that of Ghrita.
In a majority of Ghrita formulations kwatha or kashaya is the drava dravya, so Sharangadara gave special importance for the method of preparation of the same in the Ghrita kalpana chapter.Acharyas have given different ratios of water to be added while preparing kwatha depending upon the nature of the dravyas and quantity of dravyas used for preparing the kwatha14.
RATIO OF WATER DEPENDS UPON THE NATURE OF DRAVYAS USED
For soft herbs, 4 times water is added and reduced to 1/4th.
For medium and hard herbs 8 times water is added and reduced to 1/4th.
For very hard herbs, 16 times water is added and reduced to 1/4th.
This variation in the ratio of water depending upon the nature of the dravyas may be to extract the maximum water-soluble active principles of the ingredients. For example, katina dravyas like devadaru, padmaka, asana etc., requires 16 times of water i.e., it takes longer time for the 16 times of water to get reduced to 1/4th, by that time maximum active principles of the ingredients are extracted into the water. Therefore more the quantity of water, longer the time duration and maximum is the extraction of active principles of the ingredients.
OPINION OF VARIOUS AUTHORS REGARDING GHRITA KASHAYA PREPARATION
Sharangadhara has clearly explained the change in the ratio of water when the quantity of drugs changes in a particular yoga for preparing Ghrita kwatha.
If the quantity of the drugs changes from one karsha to one pala, water should be 16 times; if from 5 tola to 1 kudava it should be 8 times and if from 17 Tola to 1 khari it should be 4 times.
When ksheera is mentioned as dravadravya in a formulation, then ksheera should be taken four times of Ghrita. If other drava dravyas are also mentioned along with ksheera, then ksheera should be taken equal to the Ghrita and all the remaining drava dravya should be taken in such quantity that it should be three times of Ghrita.
RATIO OF WATER DEPENDS UPON THE QUANTITY OF DRAVYAS
If the quantity of herbs is 12 to 48 grams then 16 times of water is added, boiled and reduced to 1/4th.
If the quantity of herbs is 5 Tola- 1 kudava then 8 times of water is added, boiled and reduced to 1/4th.
If the quantity of herbs is 17 Tola- 1 khari then 4 times of water is added, boiled and reduced to 1/4th.
PREPARATION OF KALKA
A single drug or a number of drugs which may be fresh or dry is made into paste form by grinding in khalva yantra. If it is dry in nature a little quantity of water is added and made into a kalka form.
In a particular formulation if the kalka dravyas are not mentioned, then the dravyas told for kwatha preparation may be taken for preparing kalka.
The common ratio of kalka is 1/4th of Ghrita. If the nature of kalka is pushpa (flowers) then the ratio should be 1/8th of the Ghrita. or (eg) pushpas like nagakesara, kumkuma, lavanga, utpala etc. The ratio of kalka depends upon the nature of drava dravya.
If jala(water) then the ratio of kalka is 1/4th of Ghrita
If kwatha then kalka is 1/6th to that of Ghrita.
If the drava dravya is rasa, ksheera, dadhi, mamsarasa, takra then the ratio of kalka is 1/8th of Ghrita.
RATIO OF KALKA DEPENDS ON NATURE OF LIQUIDS
If water is used paste should be 1/4th the quantity of ghee.
If decoction is used paste should be 1/6th the quantity of ghee.
For herbal juices, milk, curd, meat soup or buttermilk the paste should be 1/8th the quantity of ghee.
STAGE 2 Pradhana Karma
MAINTENANCE OF AGNI
Agni is very essential for processing Ghrita. It may be direct fire or by any other heat source.
Majority of the Ghrita yogas are prepared by direct fire. We get three different stages of agni namely
Usually mridu agni and madhyama agni are maintained for Ghrita paka. Theevra agni is not at all needed for Ghrita paka, because it results in the carbonization of the Ghrita dravyas. The main aim of Ghrita paka is the extraction of the active principle of the ingredients into the Ghrita by subjecting it to mild fire at the beginning of the process and later it is increased, so that the materials boil. After it starts boiling, the temperature should be maintained in the boiling stage itself by reducing the fire. In the final stage of Ghrita paka the fire should be reduced and continuous stirring should be done to prevent the carbonization of the kalka dravya. At the beginning and last stage, mild fire is maintained and medium fire is given for the boiling of the Ghrita dravyas for its reduction.
Bhastri was used as heat source in olden days. Nowadays steam jackets, electrical devices, gas stoves etc are used for Ghrita paka.
Here Ghrita paka is done by the tapa (heat) of the surya (sun). It is also known as surya paka, bhanu paka or aditya paka. In this Ghrita paka there is no addition of drava dravya. The moisture present in the ghrita after the addition of the fresh or dry drugs will get evaporated by the heat of sun rays for a specific time period. Usually, this method is followed to prepare ghrita with drugs which contain volatile active principle and those which are heat sensitive. Ghrita prepared by this method is used for skin diseases and are not used for internal purpose.
Eg Suryapaka kasisadi ghrita (sha sam)
METHOD OF PREPARATION OF GHRITA
The method of Ghrita paka is – Murchitha Ghrita is takenfirst, , then drava dravya and kalka is added.This is the order for the addition of the basic ingredients to prepare a formulation2. Acharya Susrutha and Vagbata has followed the method of adding all the basic ingredients simultaneously.
In some parts of Kerala, the kalka is mixed with the drava dravya and then subjected to fire. This method is followed in order to avoid the carbonisation of kalka and also for uniform mixing of all the basic ingredients.
In Rajasthan, the kalka dravya is made into a bolus form. The Ghrita is heated at first, then removed out of fire and the kalka is added little by little and then put on fire and the dravadravya is added.Here the kalka is added to the heated Ghrita, so a barjana process is indirectly done either by removing the vessel from the fire or after reducing the temperature (or fire).This is done to prevent the carbonization of kalka. The vaidyas of Rajasthan speaks out that after a mild barjana of kalka the efficacy of the Ghrita is enhanced. This may be the reason that kalka has got “aavapa” sabda as its synonym.
Ghrita paka should not be completed within a day.
The first day all the ingredients are added, subjected to mild fire in the beginning and then to medium fire –such that it boils. Only on the second day, it should be filtered. At the final stage(just before filtration), the temperature is reduced by subjecting to mild fire and continuous stirring to prevent carbonization.
The reason for this 2 days of time duration may be to extract the maximum active principle into Ghrita. As the time duration of the process increases it is sure that the maximum active principle is incorporated into the Ghrita.
As the nature of the drava dravya changes the time duration of Ghrita paka also changes. When ksheera is one of the drava dravya then paka should be done for 2 nights. If swarasa then 3 nights and if takra, aranala etc., then 5 nights. If kwatha of valli or moola is used then 12 nights, if mamsa rasa or any vrihidhaanyas are used then 1 night.
TIME DURATION OF GHRITA PAKA DEPENDS UPON DRAVA DRAVYA
If meat soup or grains are used ghee preparation is completed in 1 day.
If milk is used then ghee preparation is completed in 2 days.
Herbal juice – 3 days
Buttermilk and fermented liquids – 5 days
Decoction of roots and climbers – 12 days
Longer the time duration of Ghrita paka maximum is the acquisition of the qualities of the basic ingredients for example, when preparing ksheera bala, ksheera is one of the drava dravya so the time duration is 2nights. First day it is boiled nicely and reduced a little. Next day again boiled and reduced so as to complete the process on 3rd day. Here the change in temperature and the time duration of two whole nights helps the active principles to undergo some chemical reactions, so as to get the expected efficacy of the Ghrita.
GHRITA SIDHA LAKSHANAS
At the end of the process, a small quantity of kalka is taken out and rolled in between the fingers, if it gets into a wick-like shape and does not produce any crackling sound if thrown into the fire, then it is understood that the process is completed.
Likewise, appearance of phena (froth) in taila paka and disappearance of phena in ghrita paka is seen at the terminal stage of Ghrita paka. Appearance of gandha, varna and rasa should be considered. Gandha, Varna, Rasa varies from one formulation to formulation.
CHECKING THE GHRITA PAKA
Ghrita pakas are of three types based on the therapeutic use
These three pakas are only recommended for therapeutic purpose.
Types of Grita Paka
Charaka and Susrutha – Mridhu, Madhyama, Khara
Haritha – Chikkkana, Madhyama, Khara, Vishosi – 4 types
Vagbhata, Sharangadhara, Shodala, Govind Acharya – Ama, Mridhu, Madhyama, Khara, Dagdha – 5 types
Various types of Ghritapakas are mentioned by our Acharyas. Charaka and Susrutha have mentioned three types namely mridu, madhyama and khara. Acharya Harita has mentioned 4 types of Ghritapakas. They are chikkana, madhyama, khara and vishoshi. Acharya Vaghbata, Sharangadara, Shodala, and Govinda Acharya has mentioned 5 types of Ghritapaka viz. ama, mridu, madhyama, khara, dagdha.Among these, ama, dagdha and vishoshi are therapeutically inactive.
GHRITAPAKAS AND ITS THERAPEUTIC USES.
1. Mridu paka
A small quantity of kalka taken out from the Ghrita patra and it is pressed in between the fingers, if it yields a large quantity of Ghrita then it is said to be mrdupaka.
Used for nasyakarma.
2. Madhyama paka
If kalka does not yield much Ghrita but soft in consistency and can be rolled into a varti, then it is understood that it has attained the madhyama paka. In this state of Ghrita kalpana when kalka is put in fire, burns without any crackling sound and kalka still remain soft in consistency and non-sticky due to the complete disappearance of water content.
Vasthi, abhyangam, pana and for all the karmas. i.e. both internal and external use.
If it is again heated after madhyama paka it attains kharapaka. In this stage kalka appears hard, rough and resembles sand in nature.
Uses: Mainly for external use i.e. for abhyanga.
It is the paka just before mridupaka and contains a lot of moisture. It is due to deficient heating and so it becomes guru(hard to digest). It is of no use in treatment.
5. Dagdha paka and Visoshi
Boiling still further after kharapaka will result in dagdha paka (over burnt), and it is not used for any purpose because it increases vata dosha.
USES OF DIFFERENT PAKAS – VARIOUS OPINION BY AUTHORS
No Acharyas have mentioned the use of ghee prepared with ama paka and Dadgha paka
Mridu paka – Sushrutha has mentioned that it can be taken orally. Rest of the Acharyas advised it for nasya.
Madyama paka – It is used for all purposes.
Khara paka – Sushrutha advised it for enema and as ear drops. Rest of the Acharyas advised it for massage.
STAGE 3 Paschat karma
FILTERING THE GHRITA
After the Ghrita siddhi lakshanas it should be immediately filtered or otherwise the paka may change because of the heat absorbed by the vessel and thereby the Ghrita loses the expected efficacy. The vessel should be removed from the fire or the fire should be put off and filtered immediately.
Usually, double layered cotton cloth of required length and breadth is used for filtering. Double layered cotton cloth is used in order to withstand the hotness of the Ghrita and to prevent the tearing of the cloth while squeezing.
After filtering, the kalka is put into the nishpeedana yantra and squeezed to get the Ghrita part absorbed by it. When the kalka is hot we get maximum Ghrita while squeezing. As it cools the amount of Ghrita obtained will be less and there occurs loss in Ghrita.In order to prevent the loss, filtering and squeezing are done when it is hot itself.
The cloth should be washed in pure water to remove any starch content and dried properly and sterilized to prevent the rancidity of the product.
ADDITION OF GANDHA DRAVYA
Gandha dravyas are added in the final stages of Ghritapaka or added after the vessel is removed from the fire and then filtered eg. Samanga, kankola, nalika jati, twak, lavanga, karpoora etc. The quantity should be 1/16th part of Ghrita in general.
Sometimes after filtering the Ghrita, gandha dravyas are tied in a pottali and put in the hot Ghrita.
Sometimes the gandha dravyas are powdered and added just before bottling.
Usually gandha dravyas are added to potentiate the Ghrita and to increase the quality. Moreover, gandha dravyas are volatile in nature. Eg. Kasturi, karpura, etc. So it is added after filtering or just before bottling.
If sarjarasa, madhuchistam (beeswax) are mentioned in a yoga, then it should be added only after the Ghrita is filtered or put in the vessel in which the Ghrita is to be filtered. The heat of the Ghrita melts the above dravyas and so uniform mixing of the same is expected.
BOTTLING AND STORAGE
Bottling and storage are very important, care should be taken to increase the shelf life of the Ghritas. Bottles should be cleaned properly, dried and sterilized in order to prevent rancidity.
Usually, glass bottles are used. Now- a -days plastic containers are also used for easy handling. Plastic containers should be selected in such a way that it should not react or change the quality of Ghrita.
Sharangadara has mentioned the shelf life as 16 months.
As per pharmacopoeia Ayurveda part-1 expiry date of Ghrita is 16 months.
In Bhaishajya Ratnavali the matra of Ghrita is mentioned as
Uttama matra- 1 pala- 48gms
Madhyama matra- 3 tola- 36gms
Heena matra- 2 tola- 24gms
Probable causes for rancidity:
(a) Many of the Ayurvedic preparations are manufactured with herbal drugs which contain phytochemical principles. It helps in microbial growth. These may act as free radicals in the preparation.
(b) Various factors like moisture, oxygen, carbon-di-oxide, light, trace elements, pressure, temperature etc also act as free radicals, which initiates the deterioration process.
(c) Sometimes, the plastic containers attract dust particles and it also acts as free radical.
(d) Sometimes, the product may act with packing material.
Avartana of Ghee
Avartana means repeating the process several times.This is done in order to potentiate the final product, to achieve the maximum result of the drug. When the process is repeated several times the dose can be reduced, for example, Ksheera bala 101- the dose given in practice is 8-10 drops, but whereas the dose of Ghrita according to Sharangadara is 1 pala, approximately 48-50ml internally.
REFERENCES REGARDING THE NUMBER OF AVARTHY
Amalaka ghrita – 100 times, 1000 times – Charaka chikithsa 2/4
Artificial preparation of ghee
As per mentioned in the text Bhojana Kutuhalam the artificial method of preparing ghee is as follows –
The coconut which is tender and reddish along with its pulp is mashed and the powder of meghanada (Tanduliyaka), and equal quantity of clarified butter is added and cooked and this results in the formation of ghee.
The powdered bakula seeds added to oil and mixed with equal quantity of milk, once the oil is completely cooked the mixture will surely turn into ghee.
The buffalo’s milk is made to boil til one-fourth of the original part remains, it is later added with equal quantity of ghee derived from goats milk and the mixture is cooked with the flower of karnikara to obtain ghee.