If you have ever eaten a customary Brahmin meal, ghee is usually served in the beginning. It gives a good indication about timing of ghee consumption. But there are few other factors to consider to decide on timing of ghee consumption.
The below points hold good both for medicated ghee (Ayurvedic ghritams) and common cow ghee (clarified butter).
Heavy foods are usually consumed early in the meals:
Sweets are to be consumed first, and then sour foods, etc. Of all the foods, sweets are usually heavy. Heavy-to-digest foods are consumed first, because, when the person is totally hungry, his Agni (digestion strength) is at maximum level. So, digestion of heavy foods will be easy.
Ghee also has heavy quality. (Guru Guna). Hence, it makes sense to consume ghee in the early part of the meals, so that it gets digested properly with the help of Agni.
Ghee as per Dosha
During the process of digestion, the last part is dominated by Vata Dosha. So, just before you have your meals, there is Vata dosha increase. Ghee balances Vata and Pitta Dosha. Hence, it makes sense to take ghee before or during early part of meals.
Ghee increases Agni
Apart from being heavy, ghee also increases Agni – digestion strength. Hence, ghee is used in Homa, Yajna etc spiritual practices where ghee is put to fire to increase fire.
Keep in mind that, this agni improving quality of ghee is not as powerful as, ginger, for example.
So, if ghee is consumed in the beginning of meals, it also boosts Agni and aids in digestion of rest of the consumed food items.
Ghee protects stomach
Ghee protects gastric mucosa (inner lining of stomach). Hence, if you are consuming ghee in the beginning of meal, then it would nullify the spicy food that you may eat later in the meals.
With spicy meal:
So, if your meals is spicy all together, then you can consume ghee at the end part of the meals or soon after meals. Spicy food will keep the digestion strength high enough to digest ghee even after food.
With coolant meal:
If the meal ends in curd rice or any coolant foods such as ice cream, then it is not a good idea to have ghee at the end. Ghee needs something hot, to undergo proper digestion.
With hot meal:
If the meal completely comprises of freshly prepared food in hot condition – Hot chapati with cooked Sabji, etc, then it is fine to have ghee at the end of meals.
Signs of good digestion of ghee
Good physical strength, lightness of the body, good strength of sense organs, lack of sleepiness or lethargy.
Signs of ghee indigestion – heaviness, bloating, fatigue, belching, dryness of mouth, excess thirst, uneasiness in stomach.
If you are feeling ghee indigestion, then take fatless buttermilk – one cup. Add a pinch (1 gram) of ginger powder or pepper powder to it. Mix well and drink it. Fatless buttermilk is said as medicine for ghee indigestion.
This is the reason why, in a typical Brahmin meal, ghee is served first and then at last fat-less buttermilk in Hindu meals. Buttermilk would negate any side effects of excess of ghee.
What if your doctor has prescribed medicated ghee (Ayurvedic Ghritam) to be taken after meal?
Usually medicated ghee (Ghritam) is processed with spices which makes it more digestible.
If your doctor has prescribed after food, then he must have taken your digestion strength to consideration and should have made the right decision.
Hence please follow his advice.
Usually, Ayurvedic medicines are administered after food,
a. in disorders of Vyana Vata (which is situated in chest / heart, circulates all over the body and is cause for flexion and extension of hands, legs etc.)
b. In disorders of Udana Vata (which controls speech, enthusiasm, memory etc).
So, in these two circumstances, medicinal ghee is administered after food.
Read related: How time of medicine consumption is decided as per Ayurveda?
Have half a cup of hot water after taking ghee. As hot water aids in better digestion of ghee.