Buttermilk Benefits, Side Effects, Usage, Home Remedies

By – Dr JV Hebbar
Buttermilk is one of the widely used diet article, in Ayurvedic treatment. Buttermilk is called Takra in Sanskrit. There is a simile given for buttermilk. Nectar is for Gods and Goddesses, buttermilk is for human beings.

buttermilk

Benefits of buttermilk

Butter milk benefits –
Ayurveda uses buttermilk both to maintain health and to treat diseases.
Butter milk is easy to digest, has astringent and sour tastes and is hot in nature.
Buttermilk improves digestion and mitigates kapha and vata.
In Ayurvedic treatment, it is useful in the treatment of inflammation, digestive disorders, gastro intestinal disorders, lack of appetite, spleen disorders and anaemia.
Buttermilk is highly beneficial during winter, in indigestion and in Vata imbalance related disorders.
It is given in cases of excessive ghee consumption.

Benefits of buttermilk derived from cows milk

It helps to stimulate the digestive fire, imparts intellect, checks hemorrhoids and vitiation of all the doshas.

Types of buttermilk

Full cream buttermilk: Full cream buttermilk added with sugar calms Vata and Pitta. Very nourishing and coolant in nature. It is similar to curds in qualities.

Buttermilk: Qualities are explained above.

Half water buttermilk: Improves strength and digestive power.

No fat buttermilk: Increases Pitta Dosha, hot in nature, calms Vata and Kapha.

According to Ayurveda, Curd at night is contra indicated. During night, curd is substituted with buttermilk.

Types and properties as per Bhojana kutuhala

According to Bhojana Kutuhala as mentioned by Susena it is of four varieties-

Ghola – Buttermilk without water but with the presence of cream (creamy part of curds), Curd churned with the retention of cream without adding water is called Ghola. It is useful in alleviating vata and pitta dosha.
Mathita – Curd churned without cream or added water is mathita. Treats shwasa and vitiated kapha dosha.
Udasvit – It is with one- fourth water, helps in curing vitiated pitta and kapha.
Takra – It is with one- half water and is considered to be the best among the above mentioned types, it helps in stimulating the digestive fire, anorexia etc,It alleviates vata by its sour taste pitta by its sweet taste and kapha by its astringent taste, hence buttermilk is said to be the best drink for all beings.

Special properties: Sweet buttermilk is aphrodisiac in nature, improves taste perception, vitiates kapha and mitigates pitta dosha. Sour one alleviates vata and vitiates pitta and kapha dosha.

Ayurvedic reference

Buttermilk – Takram
शोफार्शोग्रहणीदोषमूत्रग्रहोदरारुचौ|
स्नेहव्यापदि पाण्डुत्वे तक्रं दद्याद्गरेषु च||२२९||
śophārśograhaṇīdoṣamūtragrahodarārucau|
snehavyāpadi pāṇḍutve takraṃ dadyādgareṣu ca||229|| – Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 27

Indications

Thakram  Buttermilk is useful in
Shopha – oedema,
Arsha – Hemorrhoids
Grahani – Malabsorption syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Mutragraha – urine retention
Udara – Ascites
Aruchi – Anorexia, lack of interest in food
Snehavyapat – in case of ghee and fat indigestion
Affliction with Gara type of poison.
Pandu – Anaemia, initial stages of liver disorders
It is also used for alleviating the complications of oleation therapy.

Contraindications

Buttermilk contra indication:
Since Buttermilk is hot in nature, it is to be avoided
– during summer,
– in persons with injury
– in debilitated persons
– person suffering from giddiness, and in diseases related to Pitta imbalance.

Ayurvedic reference on Buttermilk benefits (Thakra):
Takram laghu Kashaya amlam deepanam kaphavatajit |
Shopha udara arsha grahani dosha mootragraha aruchihi |
pleeha gulma ghritavyapat gara paandu aamayaan jayet || – Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutra sthana – 5th chapter

Buttermilk home remedy for hemorrhoids

Ayurvedic medicines to be taken along with buttermilk (Takra)
In following Ayurvedic medicines, buttermilk is advised as a co-drink.

KutajavalehaChinchadi LehyamMandoora VatakamPunarnava Mandoor

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with buttermilk as ingredient:
Takrarishta –
Used in the treatment of low digestion strength, piles, Irritable bowel syndrome etc. It is a fermented product
Punarnavadi Tailam – 
Ayurvedic herbal oil, used for the treatment of swelling and inflammation. It is used for external application only.

Buttermilk for rheumatoid arthritis

Is Buttermilk useful in rheumatoid arthritis?
As per Ayurveda, Rheumatoid Arthritis is commonly compared with Amavata.
Ama refers to impaired digestion and metabolism.  This leads to stiffness of joints, constipation and indigestion problems.
Vata refers to impaired, imbalanced Vata Dosha leading to joint pains and deformity.
There are different types of buttermilk, based on level of cream. If it is full cream buttermilk, it is not useful. But if the cream is removed partially or fully in the buttermilk, then such a buttermilk has the following features as per Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutra sthana – 5th chapter

Takram laghu Kashaya amlam deepanam kaphavatajit |
So, buttermilk is
Laghu – light to digest  – a very desirable quality in Rheumatoid arthritis, where heaviness and stiffness  of joints is a feature,
Deepana – improves digestion strength and acts against Ama.
Kaphajit  – Kapha also contributes to stiffness of joints. Buttermilk pacifies Kapha, hence relieves stiffness of joints.
Vata jit – pacifies Vata and hence relieves pain.
With these features, buttermilk is very useful in rheumatoid arthritis.

Buttermilk for ascites

Fatless Buttermilk for the treatment of ascites – Udara roga:
Reference: Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana 13th chapter
Buttermilk, which is not very thick, which is sweet (not sour) and which is free from fat is useful for the patient suffering from Udara Roga.

If the patient is suffering from Sannipatika Udara Roga, then he should take buttermilk along with Trayusana (ginger, pepper, long pepper) Alkalies and Rock salt

The patient of Vatika type of Udara Roga should take
• Buttermilk along with Pippali – Piper longum and Rock- salt.

In Paittika type of Udara Roga, the patient should take
• Buttermilk which is freshly churned and sweet and added with sugar and the powder of Madhuka (liquorice).
For the patient suffering from Kaphaja type of Udara Roga, buttermilk added with Yavani, Rock salt, cumin seeds and Trikatu (ginger, pepper and long pepper) and it should not contain much of fat.
The patient of Plihodara (abdominal swelling caused by the enlargement of spleen) should take
• Butter milk along with honey, oil and the powders of Vata, Sunthi, Shatahva (dill), Kustha and rock salt.
The patient suffering from Udakodara (Ascites) should take
• Buttermilk prepared from well formed curd along with the powder of Trikatu (ginger, pepper and long pepper).
For the patient suffering from Baddhodara (enlargement of abdomen because of intestinal strangulation), butter- milk added with Hapusha, Yavani, cumin seeds and rock salt is useful.
The patient suffering from Chidrodara (abdominal swelling caused by intestinal perforation) should take
• butter milk along with Pippali and honey
Butter milk is like nectar for people suffering from heaviness, anorexia, suppression of the power of digestion, diarrhoea and diseases caused by aggravated Vata and Kapha. [101 ½ – ½ 107]

Buttermilk for haemorrhoids

Fat-less buttermilk for sitz bath in haemorrhoids: 
To the pile mass, sesame oil is applied. Buttermilk is heated to lukewarm. The patient is made to take sitz bath in the buttermilk for 5 – 10 minutes. Due to astringent properties of buttermilk, it reduces pain, itching and size of the pile mass.
Harad along with buttermilk is administered for piles.(Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana 14th chapter).

Buttermilk for piles: Charaka chikitsa 14th chapter
The inner wall of an earthen jar is smeared with the paste of the root bark of Chitraka – Plumbago zeylanica, and in this Jar, curd is prepared. Intake of this curd or the butter milk prepared out of it cures piles.
There is no medicine, better then butter- milk for the cure of piles caused by the predominance of aggravated Vayu and kapha depending upon the Dosha involved, it is taken along with fat (for Vayu) or in an unctuous form(for Kapha).
The physician acquainted with the specifications of the strength of the patient as well as the nature of the season is given butter-milk for either one week or for 10 days or for 15 days or for a month.
If the Kayagni (power of digestion and metabolism) of the patient is very weak, then he is given only butter- milk [both morning and evening], other- wise Takravalehika (linctus prepared by adding buttermilk to the flour of fried paddy) is given in the evening. After the buttermilk (taken in the morning) is digested, [in the evening] the patient is given Takrapeya (thin gruel prepared by adding buttermilk) along with rock salt, thereafter, Takraudana (rice mixed with butter milk) added with fat is given and butter milk is given to such a patient as after-meals drink.

As food, he may be given vegetable soup or meat soup along with butter- milk. Alternatively, vegetable soup and meat soup prepared by boiling with butter- milk can be given to him.
The physician acquainted with the time (Kala) and procedure of administration (Krama) is discontinuing butter- milk all of a sudden.
Butter milk is administered up to 1 month, and thereafter, it is gradually withdrawn. It is withdrawn gradually in the same quantity in which it was increased [in the beginning].
While reducing butter- milk, the patient’s total food intake is reduced. Adoption of this procedure will promote and maintain his energy, maintain the strength of his digestive power and promote his strength, plumpness as well as completion.
Butter- milk is of 3 types. Viz
1) From which fat is completely removed
2) From which half of the fat is removed and
3) From which fat is not at all removed.
The physician acquainted with the nature of the Doshas involved in the causation of the disease, Agni (power of digestion and metabolism) of the patient and his strength should administer any of the above mentioned 3 types of butter – milk appropriately.
Piles in the anus, once cured by the administration of butter- milk, does not recur. When sprinkled over the ground, butter- milk burns all grass thereon let alone the dry type of piles in a patient who’s Agni (power of digestion and metabolism) has been kindled through this therapy.
Butter- milk cleanses the channels of circulation as a result of which Rasa (end product of the food after digestion) reaches [the tissue elements] appropriately. This produces proper nourishment, strength, completion and exhilaration, and cures 100 diseases including those caused by Vayu (80 in number) and Kapha (20 in number). There is no medicine better than butter- milk, for the treatment of piles caused by Vayu and Kapha. [76- 88]

Buttermilk for IBS

Buttermilk for Irritable bowel syndrome (Grahani)
Reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana, 15th chapter.
For a patient suffering from grahani, butter milk is an excellent drink because it stimulates the power of digestion. It is grahi – absorbent, bowel binding, useful in IBS, diarrhoea (constipative) and light for digestion.

It is sweet in vipaka (the taste that emerges after digestion) and therefore, it does not cause aggravation of pitta. Because of its astringent taste, hot potency, vikasitva (which relieves the stiffness and causes looseness of joints and ununctuousness, it is useful for counteracting the aggravated kapha.

Because of the sweet and sour tastes and density, it is useful for counter-acting aggravated vayu.

When freshly prepared, it does not cause burning sensation. Therefore, all the recipes of buttermilk described for the treatment of Udara (ascites) and  piles is used for the treatment of Grahani.

Other conditions

Buttermilk in work exhaustion
2 cups (300 ml) of buttermilk or curd is taken. To this 15-20 grams of sugar candy or jaggery is added and dissolved or churned. This is given to drink.

Buttermilk for diarrhoea
Nutmeg (Jatiphala –Myristica fragrans) is rubbed well with buttermilk or lemon juice and administered repeatedly.

Takrapanaka

As per mentioned in Bhojana Kutuhalam in the context of cool drinks, Curd which is very sour and thick preferably derived from buffalo’s milk added with fourth of its quantity of water and is sieved through a pure cloth into an earthen vessel, to this the powder of fried asafoetida, cumin seeds, salt and a small quantity of mustard is added and severed. This cool drink improves taste perception, stimulates the digestive fire, promotes digestion, nourishes the body and checks the abdominal disorders. To overcome the discomforts induced after consumption of foodstuff that causes it one must drink milk at the end of the meal.

Takradhara

Buttermilk for Takradhara:
Takradhara is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment used for the treatment of psoriasis, hypertension etc. Here, medicated buttermilk is poured over a particular body part for a specified amount of time.
Read more about methodology and benefits of Takradhara treatment

Market available buttermilk variants

Milk, buttermilk, fluid, cultured, lowfat

Taste – astringent, sour
Qualities – light
Potency – hot
After digestion taste transformation (After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)) – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing – due to sour taste, hotness, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)
Kapha balancing – due to astringent taste, lightness, hotness, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)
Pitta increasing – due to sour taste, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka), hot potency

Milk, buttermilk, dried

Taste – astringent, sour
Qualities – light
Potency – hot
After digestion taste transformation (After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)) – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing – due to sour taste, hotness, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)
Kapha balancing – due to astringent taste, lightness, hotness, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka)
Pitta increasing – due to sour taste, pungent After digestion taste transformation (Vipaka), hot potency

53 thoughts on “Buttermilk Benefits, Side Effects, Usage, Home Remedies”

  1. I am not sure if you could say buttermilk is hot and to be avoided in summer.. while Curd is hot – buttermilk isnt – is what I have been told by folks around.

    Reply
    • I am just speaking what the ancient Ayurveda says. It is told to be avoided in Summer, it is told to have sour and astringent properties. Hence it is hot.

      Reply
      • Do not misguide people, It does not mean if anything is sour and astringent in properties, it will be hot. Amla is most likely sour, but it is cool. Arjuna is astringent and cool. There are many several examples.

        Reply
        • I don’t think Astringent taste increases pitta, but sourness does.

          https://www.easyayurveda.com/2013/06/27/astringent-taste-qualities-health-benefits-side-effects/

          https://www.easyayurveda.com/2013/06/18/sour-taste-qualities-health-benefits-side-effects/

          One who has heat boils on the body and takes very sour buttermilk (mistakenly thinking it is cooling) will realize the benefit of this guideline. It is helpful to avoid excessively sour buttermilk if one is already Pitta-overprone (or at least take care to have it with balancing cooling spices like mint…).

          Ayurvedically speaking, Amla has 5 out of 6 tastes (excluding bitter, including sour), so it is constitutionally very different from (particularly sour) buttermilk.

          Reply
        • Dear Dr Rahul,

          Amla is an exception as sour is not the only taste. Infact amla has all tasted except salty, so the end result is something that is sheeta and pittahara even when sourness is part of it.

          Curd on the other hand has only two tastes: sour and sweet. Its end result is heating and pittakara.

          This is why amla is ok in summer and curd is not.

          Please have some almonds every morning so you can process Ayurveda knowledge better.

          Your Truly,
          Rahul (not a doctor)

          Reply
    • Hi,
      the original fat-less buttermilk is hot in nature and is to be avoided in summer.
      But the buttermilk that is available in the market are added with sugar, which makes it less hot and brings in coolant properties.

      Reply
  2. Some spice mixes to use with buttermilk for various things such as constipation, bloating, indigestion, lack of digestive power, etc…would be helpful to know…

    Is it okay to mix ‘tadka’ (spices fried in oil or ghee) in buttermilk or is that a bad food combination?

    thank you

    Reply
    • Noted the suggestion for buttermilk combination.
      It is fine to mix tadka to buttermilk. But the oil / ghee used in tadka should be minimal.

      Reply
  3. Not directly related, but is it okay to have “Arishtha” medicines (having alcohol) soon after meals in which curd/buttermilk is included?

    Reply
  4. Can buttermilk (with salt, cumin, cilantro, mint, etc…) be consumed soon after having sweets like wheat-halwa (with jaggery)?

    Also, it’ll help to understand the reason why buttermilk is contra indicated for debilitated persons.

    Thank you,

    Reply
    • Buttermilk can be taken with said combination.
      Generally speaking, Buttermilk tends to slightly increase Pitta. Hence, if taken in very weak person, may cause increased burning sensation.

      Reply
    • I do not think buttermilk is contra-indicated with bitter substances like bitter gourd.
      In fact, buttermilk is slightly hot in potency, (slightly increases Pitta) and bitter herbs like bittergourd decrease Pitta. So, this combination makes buttermilk more usable in Pitta condition.

      Reply
  5. In Summers in Delhi when temp goes beyond 40 cc generally ppl suggests each other to have 1-2 glass of (Chaach or Lassi) every day to overcome the heat Here they suggest to have salted Lassi for better effects Sweet Lassi is not that much good as person feel drowsiness after drinking it that it is true also
    I am surprised by reading your article salted butter milk is not good in summers
    Can you explain me which type of butter milk is good for intake in summers temp
    above 40cc

    Reply
    • Hi, The lassi that you are referring to, has some amount of fat in it, which acts as coolant, and can surely be taken along with salt.
      The buttermilk I am referring to, is fat less liquid that we get after churning the curd to extract butter. It is fat less and is hot in nature, hence advised to avoid during summer.

      Reply
  6. I am a dairy farmer and i have to work hard in summer. I consume many litres of fat less lassi with food and after hard wory in summer. In fact we cannot think of remaining healthy without lassi in punjab in summer days. I can never agree that butterless lassi is hot when digested.

    Reply
  7. sir,you have mentioned fat free buttermilk is hot in nature in opinion column.But you have mentioned in the article two separate lines fat-free buttermilk and no cream buttermilk which says calms kapha and pittta and natural coolant.
    also in curd benefit article you have mentioned curd from fat free milk is natural coolant.
    Please clarify is fat free(no cream) buttermilk and fat free curd are hot in nature or natural coolant..
    I am pitta-vata type.should i consume buttermilk and curd made from full cream milk or from fat free milk..

    Reply
    • Hi, there were a few mistakes in the article, which are now corrected.
      For a Vata Pitta person, it makes sense to take buttermilk / curd with cream.

      Reply
  8. My previous comment is not answered.
    In some place it is given buttermilk is hot in nature. But in other place it is given as buttermilk calms pitta.which is good for pitta type either full cream butter milk or no cream buttermilk. is fat-free curd good for pitta.? Will full cream curd without sugar increase pitta?

    Reply
    • 1.Again no fat buttermilk says natural coolant. Even in curd article it’s given as curd from fat free milk is natural coolant. Its confusing. Please cross check all your articles under buttermilk and curd to make any required corrections.
      2.What I have understood is both curd and buttermilk which are fat free increases pitta but decreases vata.
      3.But you have explained in other articles vata being light and dry in nature opposite qualities are required to balance it like heavy and fat. Similarly fat increases pitta. Please clarify my doubts
      and simplify the curd and buttermilk articles to avoid confusions. What type of curd and buttermilk good for each dosha separately.

      Reply
      • Buttermilk, if it contains full fat, and if is sweet in nature or is made sweet by adding sugar etc, is coolant in nature. Other than this, all other forms of buttermilks, even if it contains semi fat, is hot in nature, hence improves digestion.

        Reply
  9. To make partially or no fat buttermilk, can we start by taking milk that has little to no fat, turn it into curd and then into buttermilk? Will that have same effect as removing butter after churning buttermilk?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Better to take whole milk with fat, make the buttermilk and then decide on amount of fat to reduce it.
      The fat in the milk contributes its own effects to the buttermilk made, despite being not present in the final buttermilk.

      Reply
  10. Sir,
    Is it ok to boil DAHI or buttermilk.. If not then Gujarati Kadhi (Boiled Buttermilk with Bengal Gram Flour and Jaggery) is OK for everyone..
    Further, What is Ayurvedic logic behind cooking Rice or Green Gram in Dahi for digestive issue..
    And can we use jaggery with it or will it be Abhishyandi or create any Ama in body..??
    Thanks….

    Reply
    • Ayurveda has contra indicated heating of dahi or buttermilk. But there are many dishes which are done with heating of them. If one is accustomed to it, then no harm in continuing.
      Excess intake of jaggery can cause ama in the long run.

      Reply
  11. Thanks a lot..Sir,
    One more question..
    Is cooking with buttermilk alter drying(Ruksha) property of gain like rajgira, maize, green Gram, Bengal gram or other lentils..
    Will it alleviate vayu property of food..?

    Reply
  12. Greetings Dr.

    I have an aggravated pitta. Is chaach good for people with excess of pitta. If its good, then how to prepare it.(ratioes etc). Pls suggest some fluids to balance excess pitta.

    Thank you

    Reply
  13. Doctor, I am very underweight and feel weak. I am having problems digesting milk which gives me abdominal pain. In the past I had no issues with dairy and drank a lot of milk. As I would like to have diary in my diet I am trying to make lassi at home keeping the cream after mixing, and even though homemade lassi is not so sour I get a slight burning sensation in my abdomen and tongue. Should I continue to try to make yogurt so it turns out sweet or is it just not suitable for me? I was hoping to continue with dairy as I desparate need to gain weight. If I am unable to have dairy products would something like eggs be fine for me to digest or are they too heavy? My digestion is poor and I tend to get bloating. Since giving up milk and yogurt my weight has continued to fall.

    Reply
    • Hi, it appears that fatless buttermilk or eggs are fine to you.
      Include a pinch of ginger and turmeric in all your meals.

      Reply
  14. can a person with skin diseases still consume takra (modified with anti pitta spices)?
    Because, as per my understanding, takra acts as a probiotic and hence may have positive therapeutic effect on acne (better digestion, lower inflammation etc.)

    Reply

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