In Ayurveda, ghee (and Ghruta) is an essential substance in everyday life and is used throughout the year. However, the way ghee is used and the reasons for using it varies depending on the season. In order to know how to eat ghee in Ayurveda, it's important to recognize the qualities of the seasons.
Ghee in Winter
Winter is perhaps the most obvious season to use ghee. Many of the qualities of ghee - sweet, heavy, soothing - can directly combat the crisp winter chill. During this time of year it is advantageous to increase your intake of ghee to nourish the tissues and help you feel grounded. Consider adding an extra tablespoon when cooking your foods or melt a spoonful on top of your meal. Ghee can also be used externally to moisturize and help fight off the dry, cracked skin that many people experience during winter. Rubbing ghee into the ears and nose can help ward off illness.
Ghee in Spring
Spring is the season that sees the cold winds of winter give way to the heat of summer. Ghee can be useful during spring for several reasons. The first several weeks of spring are still generally quite cold, so Ghee's warming properties are beneficial during these weeks. Ghee has also been used to help fight off allergies and spring fever. One popular method is to apply ghee onto the skin around the eyes to prevent itching. A ghee nasal rinse can also help to flush toxins and excess mucus out of the nasal cavities. Spring is also a popular time for cleansing. In Ayurveda cleansing is typically recommended twice a year to coincide with the change of seasons. During a detox, it's advised that one eats wholesome nutritious foods, like kitchari, with lots of ghee since ghee helps dislodge and remove toxins (ama) from the body.
Ghee in Summer
One might suspect that a person's agni increases during summer. If the movement of agni mirrors the sun (agni is highest at noon, when the sun is highest, and lowest after the sun goes down) then shouldn't it be highest in summer? According to Ayurveda, the opposite is true. Agni is highest during winter, when the body draws heat deeper into the body. Many people will notice that they feel less hungry during summer. This isn't necessarily due to an increase in exciting activities taking the focus off our hunger - it's because our agni is much less intense during these months. Ghee is fantastic for helping to stimulate agni, and can be useful for helping to boost digestion during summer.
Ghee in Autumn
During autumn, the heat of summer fades and gives way to the chills of winter. There are several reasons that you might want to use ghee during this season. As autumn progresses, people of the Vata dosha may find themselves becoming increasingly aggravated. During this season, it's advised that you increase your intake of heavy, oily and sweet foods, like ghee, to help prevent a Vata imbalance. Light and cooling foods are generally discouraged during this time, but cooking these foods with a heavy fat like Ghee can help restore balance if you still want to eat these foods.
Ghee is one of the most versatile substances in Ayurveda, and it has a number of uses for all seasons. Learning how to eat ghee according to Ayurveda can greatly improve your seasonal transitions.