When it’s cold out, which it is now in New York, massages (along with baths) are just about the only things that warm me up. Muscle pain? Stiffness? Put your arnica cream to one side and get out the ghee.
Yes, you heard me right. No longer confined to kitchen cupboards, pots and frying pans, ghee is making a break for freedom and into the realms of body care essential.
When I started researching ghee, it seemed to me that I was in the company of superlatives. In India, it has been so highly regarded for so many things, for so long, that some of its reputed benefits seem fantastical. Consider this: Cow ghee is used in lamps in temples and pujas all over India. It is said that the light of a ghee lamp is more beautiful and brilliant than any other light, and that it wards off negativity.
Ghee body massage is one of those things that you don’t believe will work at all until you try it, but since I've been slathering it on my joints post workout, I'm starting to swear by the stuff. It's also helping a treat with my winter-bruised shins. When Ayurvedic expert and founder of Uma Oils, Shrankhla Holecek, told me that "ghee butter has time-tested ropana, or ‘mending’ qualities,” on the body, I was more than intrigued.
"Ghee has a special place in Ayurveda for the wide range of internal and external benefits," says Shrankhla. "Applied, on the skin it can be purely cosmetic or deeply therapeutic. Cow milk ghee—the most common type of ghee in use—is used for body and hair massages to combat acute dryness, add lustre, shine and strengthen tissue. It's especially brilliant for chronic inflammation, the precursor to aches and stiffness."
The ancient Sushruta Samhita (Sanskrit) text claims ghee is the ultimate overall remedy for pitta (inflammatory) problems. Furthermore, ghee is said to promote memory, intelligence, and to enhance digestion. "Medicated ghees are becoming increasingly popular in Ayurvedic treatments too—brahmi (brain-boosting, sleep assisting) and triphala (detoxing, metabolism enhancing) being the two herbs most commonly used."
Remember back when you were a kid, and your mom would rub your back when you weren't feeling great? What better way to embody memories of being cared for with a designated "Treat Yo Self" time. Rubbing and caressing your body is a pause in the day to nourish body, spirit, and mind. "Massage ghee into your body, beginning with the limbs. Use long strokes on the arms and legs, and circular motions on the joints," says Shrankhla. "Move to the abdomen and chest, massaging in broad, clockwise, circular motions. Then finish on the stomach by moving up the right side, then down the left."
Added bonus: The buffing away of dead skin and aiding in the elimination of toxins from the most mega of all organs. Remember to pay attention to the sweet spots—inner thighs and under the arms for lymph drainage.
Make your own!
- Place 1 to 2 pounds of butter in a saucepan on the stovetop.
- Melt at low heat until white curds separate and sink to the bottom.
- When a drop of water flicked into the pan boils immediately, the ghee is done.
- Decant the butter oil from the pan, discarding the curds at the bottom.
- Store in a clean jar in the cupboard. If kept clean and water free, ghee needs no refrigeration.
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