In Ayurveda, balanced digestion is considered foundational to good health. In order for the agni (digestive fire) to stay strong, the fire needs to be tended. Lifestyle choices, eating habits, foods, spices, and herbs all have an impact on the state of digestion, or agni. Ghee (or better yet, Ghruta) is one food that can have a positive impact on digestion. Ghee benefits digestion because it imparts moisture and has a slightly sweet quality without being overly heavy. In fact, if you are curious about the interaction between ghee and digestion, Ayurveda teaches that ghee is one of the easiest oils to digest.
Tend The Inner Fires
Think about the agni, or digestive fire, like any fire that needs tending. You want to keep the fire burning steady and bright—not too hot, and at the same time you don’t want to let it fizzle out. How do you maintain a steadily burning fire? You need to give your agni just the right amount of fuel and at regular intervals. Too much fuel (or food) will overwhelm the fire. At the same time, too little fuel will cause the fire to die out.
Also, certain foods are better than others at stoking and maintaining the digestive fire. In general, foods that are light, moist, and warming are best for boosting and balancing digestion. Yet, choosing the ideal foods and herbs will vary based upon one’s constitution, the time of year, and other factors. Cooked vegetables, kitchari, and warming digestive spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper all stoke the digestive fire. In addition, for Pitta types and those with a warm constitution, spices such as fennel and coriander are great for enkindling the digestive fire without overheating and aggravating Pitta dosha.
Ghee and Digestion
As mentioned earlier, ghee plays a helpful role in digestion. Similar to cooling digestive spices such as fennel and coriander, ghee gently enkindles the agni without aggravating Pitta dosha. Also, ghee is tridoshic, so it is appropriate for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha types.
Ghee Boosts Absorption
Another positive attribute of ghee is that it carries beneficial plant constituents and nutrients deeper into your cells. For instance, turmeric is much more bioavailable when you consume it with fat (such as ghee) and a small amount of black pepper. Taking turmeric with ghee increases its effectiveness.
This same principle applies to many other herbs and spices. This is why you can find special herb-infused ghee products such as Ashwagandha Ghee or Brahmi Ghee. Ghee helps carry the herbs deeper into your cells. In addition, taking herbs and spices with ghee increases the moisture and ojas-building components of those plant allies.
So, if you are curious about ghee and digestion, you can rest assured that ghee supports balanced digestion. Ghee and ghruta make wonderful cooking oils. Or, you can take ghee or ghruta with hot water and digestive spices to target digestive support. Any way you enjoy it, ghee nourishes ojas, enkindles agni, is nutrient rich, and is certainly tasty!
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.