Cow ghee or desi ghee is one of the most commonly used mediums for cooking in India. Apart from being a culinary delight, cow ghee is well known for its healing and nutritive benefits. Ayurvedic medicine recognizes cow ghee as a Rasayana.

The mentions of cow ghee are found in Charak Samhita, which is one of the most ancient ayurvedic texts. In fact, cow ghee is known as ghrita in sanskrit, which literally translates to “bright” or “to make bright”. Unfortunately, there is very little scientific research conducted on the benefits of cow ghee. In spite of this, cow ghee remains a rising choice of millions all over the world.

What is cow ghee?

According to the Food safety and regulatory authority of India, ghee is defined as a fat that is obtained from milk, curdled milk, cooking butter or from collected milk cream which has no added preservatives and colours.

Did you know?

Cow ghee has a high spiritual and religious value in Hinduism. It is one of the most important components of Vedic yajnas. Cow ghee is also offered to gods according to Hindu rituals.

  1. Cow ghee vs. Buffalo ghee
  2. Cow ghee health benefits
  3. Cow ghee use
  4. How much cow ghee can be taken per day ?
  5. Cow ghee side effects
Doctors for Cow Ghee Benefits, Uses and Side Effects

Cow ghee and buffalo ghee have a lot of characteristic differences. Dairy experts can even differentiate the two on the basis of their distinctive aromas. However, for the rest of us, we can differentiate cow ghee from buffalo ghee by a few easily noticeable characteristics:

  • Cow ghee is golden to yellow in colour while buffalo ghee has a whitish shade with a green hue. This is due to the fact that cow ghee is rich in beta-carotene, a yellow pigment present in grass and cereals while buffalo ghee is rich in bilirubin and biliverdin.
  • Cow ghee has a much higher content of cholesterol as compared to buffalo ghee.
  • The total fat content of buffalo ghee is higher than that of cow ghee.

Traditional and ayurvedic medicines list numerous benefits of cow ghee. It is not just used as a source of dietary fat but is also an excellent health booster. While medical studies are still lacking to confirm the traditional healing benefits of cow ghee, it remains a much-loved alternative to some other oils in most Indian kitchens. Let’s explore some of the known health benefits of cow ghee.

  • Good for stomach: Cow ghee protects the inner lining of your stomach and improves gut microflora. It also helps in regrowth of intestinal cells and preventing gastrointestinal conditions like colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers.
  • As a baby massage oil: Cow ghee is an excellent massage oil for babies. It moisturises your little one’s skin and provides them with DHA needed for their brain development.
  • Improves wound healing: Cow ghee is traditionally known to be a wound healing agent. It promotes skin regeneration and new tissue development at the injury site. Being a natural antioxidant, cow ghee also prevents scarring.
  • Improves brain function: Cow ghee is a good source of omega-3 fats, especially DHA. Studies have found that DHA improves neurological functions such as memory and cognition. It also reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Anti-diabetic: Cow ghee is a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. These are a type of fats which stimulate insulin secretion and reduce blood glucose levels.
  • Benefits for hair: Cow ghee is known to be a tonic for your hair. It nourishes and moisturises your scalp and hair follicles, leading to improved hair growth with shinier and frizz free hair.

Cow ghee for babies

Traditionally, cow ghee is considered an excellent oil source and massage oil for babies.

According to the book Bioactive Nutraceuticals and Dietary Supplement in Neurological and Brain disease, ghee is an excellent carrier oil. It can absorb into the skin and reach inside the body cell. Thus, it can be used as a vehicle to carry various nutrients and herbal components into the baby’s skin.

Additionally, ghee is a known source of DHA and omega-3 fats, which are essential for the development of brain function in babies. However, there have been no clinical studies to test any of these theories or their side effects, in humans. It is essential that you refer to your doctor to know what is best for your baby.

Read more: How to massage your baby

Cow ghee for cancer care

A number of studies have been done to test the efficiency of cow ghee based diet in the prevention and reduction of the risk of cancer. One such study suggests that cow ghee is more efficient than soybean oil in reducing breast cancer growth.

Further studies suggest that cow ghee inhibits the action of cytochrome p450 (a protein), which is responsible for initiating cancer metabolism in the liver. However, in the absence of human studies, it is best to talk to your ayurveda doctor to know more about the anti-cancer benefits of cow ghee.

Cow ghee benefits for skin

Cow ghee is a rich source of nutrients and vitamins. The fatty acid content in this ghee is known to be highly moisturizing. So, topical application of cow ghee not only hydrates the skin but it also nourishes your skin thus making it look soft and supple.

Read more: How to make your skin look soft and smooth

Additionally, it is believed that cow ghee has a lot of anti-ageing properties. Regular use of this can thus make you look younger and more refreshed.

Cow ghee benefits for hair

Cow ghee is known for its numerous hair benefits in ayurveda. First, it is an excellent moisturizer, it’ll keep your scalp hydrated and alleviate any symptoms of dry and itchy skin. Secondly, it is an excellent carrier oil, which means that you can add various herbs to cow ghee and use it in the form of massage oil.

Read more: Itchy scalp reasons

These herbs would not only be better absorbed in your scalp but they’ll work on a cellular level to improve your scalp and hair health.

Lastly, cow ghee is rich in vitamin A and other nutrients, which makes it an excellent hair tonic. So, using cow ghee would not only nourish your hair follicles but it’ll provide you with shiny and frizz-free hairs.

Read more: Hair growth treatment and tips

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Cow ghee for diabetes

While there are a lot of sources that claim the potency of ghee in reducing blood sugar levels, there are no scientific proofs to confirm the same.

However, ghee is a good source of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids along with being rich in short-chain fats.

According to a review article, all of these fats have a stimulatory effect on an intestinal hormone called GLP-1, which, in turn, is known to stimulate the release of insulin in the body leading to lower blood glucose levels. However, it’s more or less a theory so far and needs confirmatory evidence-based studies.

Read more: Diabetes symptoms

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Cow ghee benefits for brain

Studies suggest that ghee is a good source of DHA (a type of fat) and omega-3 fats. These fatty acids make up an important part of the brain.

According to an article in Pharmacological Research, DHA is responsible for crucial brain functions like memory and cognition. Lower levels of DHA in the brain is generally associated with neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  

In ayurveda, cow ghee is known to improve cognition and memory. However, the same could not be confirmed by animal studies. So, it’s best to talk to your ayurvedic doctor to understand the efficiency of cow ghee as a brain stimulant.

Read more: How to increase brain power

Cow ghee for wound healing

Traditional and ayurvedic medicine system has been using cow ghee for its wound healing properties.

Animal studies suggest that a formulation made from cow ghee and aloe vera is very effective in healing both incision (superficial wounds) and excision (deep tissue) wounds.

This was noted in terms of collagen growth, new tissue development and wound closing time. Additionally, it was suggested that the wound healing ability of this gel was as good as one of the common topical creams.

Cow ghee for cholesterol

According to an in vivo study, consumption of ghee stimulates the secretion of bile fats from the liver. As a result, significantly lower levels of serum cholesterol have been found in animal models with regular cow ghee administration.

Similarly, a recent clinical study suggests that consumption of ghee may have some effect on reducing total cholesterol levels in the serum.

However, cow ghee is known to be a rich source of cholesterol and saturated fats. If you are suffering from high cholesterol, it’s best to check with your Ayurvedic doctor before taking cow ghee.

Read more: Foods to reduce and control high cholesterol

Cow ghee for eyes

Cow ghee is a well known ayurvedic remedy for the treatment of various eye problems. According to ayurvedic doctors, cow ghee is an excellent lubricant. Thus, it is very beneficial in Computer vision syndrome (CVS) which is marked by dry and itchy eyes.

Read more: Dry eyes treatment

Additionally, cow ghee is a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants. Which makes it an excellent tonic and healing agent for eyes. Cow ghee taken at night with triphala and honey is considered highly beneficial for eyes.

Read more: How to improve eyesight

Cow ghee benefits for stomach

Cow ghee is traditionally known to be an effective remedy for various gastrointestinal problems. According to ayurvedic doctors, cow ghee is an excellent moisturizer for the inner lining of the stomach.

Cow milk is a known source of butyric acid (a short-chain fatty acid). Studies suggest that butyric acid reinforces the intestinal barriers thus reducing the risk of the spread of pathogen or toxins to the body. Further studies suggest that butyric acid has an important role in the growth of intestinal cells, the peristaltic (wavy) movement in the gut and the intestinal microflora.

It has also been reported to mediate an anti-inflammatory effect on common gut problems like ulcers, Inflammatory bowel disease, and colitis. However, there is no clinical evidence to prove the healing effects of cow ghee on the human stomach.

Read more: Acidity causes

Cow ghee for heart

When it comes to the benefits of cow ghee for heart problems, it is hard to provide confirmatory evidence. In vivo studies suggest that consumption of ghee may increase the high density (good) cholesterol in the body while decreasing the FSF (fibrin stabilizing factor) levels in the heart arteries. FSF is a protein released by the coronary arteries in response to high blood pressure. Reduction in FSF may hint at the benefits of ghee in lowering blood pressure.

A recent clinical study claims that the addition of ghee in diet leads to a reduction in triglycerides (a type of fat) levels in the body and an increase in HDL-C (good cholesterol) in serum. Triglycerides are a kind of natural fats that have long since been associated with heart diseases and mortality.

An increase in HDL cholesterol in the body is directly associated with a reduced risk for atherosclerosis (plaque formation in arteries) and the resulting heart problems like heart attack and stroke. However, more studies are still needed to find the mechanism of action and potential side effects of ghee on the heart. If you are suffering from any heart problem, it is best to talk to your ayurvedic doctor to know the right dosage of cow ghee for you.

Cow ghee for weight loss

If you are on a weight loss regime, chances are you might be running away from all kinds of fats. It is a commonly believed myth that if you stop consuming fats, you will become slim. One of the primary concerns in most weight loss programs is burning the extra fat in the body. Cow ghee is famously known as a home remedy for weight loss. But, when it comes to scientific studies, not much can be proved about the weight loss benefits of cow ghee.

One of the major compound known to be responsible for the weight loss property of ghee is CLA fats (Conjugated linoleic acid). Numerous studies have been done to test the efficiency of CLA in weight loss programs but the results aren’t devoid of controversies.

According to two different review articles, consumption of 3g of ghee per day may have some effect on lowering body weight and fat. However, the change wasn’t considered to be sufficiently remarkable. Further clinical trial suggests that administration of CLA in the diet has no effect on body mass and BMI of obese people but a localized reduction in the circumference of hips has been noted in some cases.

Read more: Obesity causes

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The most common use of cow ghee is in the form of a cooking oil. It can also be used for its distinctive flavour in baking, desserts or in the form of a salad dressing. It is also added as a moisturizing and healing ingredient in ayurvedic cosmetics and soaps.

Some ayurvedic formulations like capsules and eye drop also have cow ghee as one of their primary ingredients.

Read more: Olive oil benefits

There is no known dosage for cow ghee but a 3g dosage of ghee has been administered in clinical trials without much side effect. It is strongly recommended that you talk to your ayurvedic doctor to know the right dosage of cow ghee as per your physical and physiological condition.

The following are some side effects of cow ghee:

  • Cow ghee is rich in saturated fatty acids, which is directly linked to conditions like atherosclerosis and stroke. Thus, it is suggested that you take cow ghee in moderation.
  • Adulterated ghee may contain some harmful fats. So, it is best to prepare your own ghee at home or buy your ghee from trusted brands.
  • In some studies, consumption of ghee has been associated with symptoms of constipation as well as symptoms of nausea and vomiting. If you want to add ghee to your diet, it is preferable that you start from lower quantities.
  • If you are suffering from a respiratory disorder such as bronchitis or tuberculosis, it is preferable that you don’t consume ghee.
Dr. Padam Dixit

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Medicines / Products that contain Ghee


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  2. Kumar MV, Sambaiah K, Lokesh BR. Hypocholesterolemic effect of anhydrous milk fat ghee is mediated by increasing the secretion of biliary lipids. J Nutr Biochem. 2000 Feb;11(2):69-75. PMID: 10715590
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  4. Hui Yan, Hui Yan, KolapoM. Ajuwon. Butyrate modifies intestinal barrier function in IPEC-J2 cells through a selective upregulation of tight junction proteins and activation of the Akt signaling pathway. PLoS One. 2017; 12(6): e0179586. PMID: 28654658
  5. Andrzej Załęski, Aleksandra Banaszkiewicz, Jarosław Walkowiak. Butyric acid in irritable bowel syndrome . Prz Gastroenterol. 2013; 8(6): 350–353. PMID: 24868283
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  7. Yogita Surendra Karandikar, Akshata Sanjay Bansude, Eesha Ajit Angadi. Comparison between the Effect of Cow Ghee and Butter on Memory and Lipid Profile of Wistar Rats. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 Sep; 10(9): FF11–FF15. PMID: 27790463
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  9. Mohammadifard N, Hosseini M, Sajjadi F, Maghroun M, Boshtam M, Nouri F. Effect of hydrogenated, liquid and ghee oils on serum lipids profile. ARYA Atheroscler. 2010 Spring;6(1):16-22. PMID: 22577408
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  13. Ribeiro AS et al. Effect of Conjugated Linoleic Acid Associated With Aerobic Exercise on Body Fat and Lipid Profile in Obese Women: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, and Placebo-Controlled Trial. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2016 Apr;26(2):135-44. PMID: 26402730
  14. Kathirvelan Chinnadurai, Harpreet Kaur Kanwal, Amrish Kumar Tyagi, Catherine Stanton, Paul Ross. High conjugated linoleic acid enriched ghee (clarified butter) increases the antioxidant and antiatherogenic potency in female Wistar rats. Lipids Health Dis. 2013; 12: 121. PMID: 23923985
  15. C. Guo, T. Huang, A. Chen, X. Chen, L. Wang, F. Shen, and X. Gu. Glucagon-like peptide 1 improves insulin resistance in vitro through anti-inflammation of macrophages. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2016; 49(12): e5826. PMID: 27878229
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