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Anukta Dravya Abhyaasa: Vegetable oil – Vanaspatee Ghee

Vaidya Vilas M. Nanal

Many food items whose properties have not been described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts are now an integral part of our daily lives. The Ayurvedic physician in the course of his career makes certain decisions about the properties of these substances and decides whether that substance comes under the heading of Pathya or Apathya for a particular patient. May new food items have become available in the course of time. However the basic composition of the Mahaabhoota present in the substances remains constant. According to this composition the physician can arrive at certain logical conclusions as to the effect of that substance on the human body. Also he verifies his conclusions by using the substance in his practice and observing its actions, to validate this hypothesis or otherwise.

Considering these conclusions briefly:

  1. Dravya A particular set of Gun`a and Karma come together to form a Dravya. Therefore each Dravya has certain Gun`a and Karma which are inseparably connected to it. The branch of Ayurveda dealing with this topic is Dravya Gun`a S`haastra. Each Dravya displays certain actions, which are sometimes in accordance with the Gun`a and Karma present in it and which sometimes defy all logical explanation. The phenomenon of Sanskaara plays an important role in this. The topic of Sanskaara will be discussed in detail in the present article.
  2. Dosha Dhaatu and Mala every substance, which comes into contact with the human body, starts a particular chain of action, the effect of which can be observed on every constituent of the body. The subject of DoshaDhaatu –Mala Vigyaana deals with this.
  3. Vikriti Vigyaana Nidaana When a substance, coming into contact with the human body, disturbs the equilibrium of the bodily constituents an unhealthy situation develops i.e. the Rogaavasthaa begins, the complete study of this Rogaavasthaa begins. The complete study of this Rogaavasthaa i.e. from Nidaana Sevana (Nidaana factors leading to Roga) to the point where the body displays symptoms which indicate complete manifestation of the disease and also the study of the Arisht`a (signs and symptoms which indicate the terminal stage of the disease) comes under the subject of Nidaana.
  4. Chikitsaa The Dosha_s become vitiated due to their specific causes and give rise to diseases. Combating these diseases with Aushadha (medicine), Anna (Pathya) and Vihaara establishing Svaasthya or a healthy state of the body comes under the heading of Chikitsaa.
  • Sanskaara

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Any process, which changes the natural properties of a substance and gives rise to a new set of properties, is known as Sanskaara or Gun`aantaraadhaana. Each Dravya performs certain functions according to the distinct Gun`a present in it. When these Gun`a change due to Sanskaara, after processing the Dravya exhibits a new set of properties which may be in accordance with its original set or it may exhibit a set of new properties which are diagonally opposite to the original due to which the Dravya performs actions which are in accordance with its original nature or which totally defy its original nature. These changes therefore have to be considered by the physician before he decides to use the substance. The various ways in which this change in Gun`a or Gun`aantaraadhaana can take place; have been described by Ayurveda e.g. these can be effected by subjecting the substance to the action of AgniJalaKaalaS`huddhi, storage in various vessels i.e. Bhaajana etc.

The Sanskaara of Agni on rice grains leads to the formation of Laajaa which is Laghu , RooksaSookshma and which absorb the Drava in the body.

Tan`d`ulodaka, which involves Jala Sanskaara, is S`heeta, performing the Kaarya of Staambhana, appeasing Trishn`aa, and creating Aalhaada.

Due to Toya Agni Sanskaara involving Jala and Agni on rice grains, various food items like Man`d`aPeyaaVilepee and cooked rice are prepared. By adjusting the amount of Jala and Agni different items can be prepared.

Kaala Sanskaara new rice is Guru, i.e. heavy to digest, it increases the Drava Gun`a and urine quantity in the body and it initiates the activity of Kapha and Pitta. However the rice which is stored for one year old is Laghu or easy to digest and has Rooksha or dry properties.

Rice which is sowed in the rainy season and which reaches and of its growth by the S`harada Ritu is Amla Vipaakee (i.e. it displays the functions of Amla Rasa after digestion) which is why it is Avrishya or destroys the S`hukra Dhaatu in the body. On the other hand rice which is sown in the cold season (Hemanta and S`his`hira) and which is ready by the Grishma Ritu (summer) is Vrishya or it increases the amount of S`hukra Dhaatu in the body because it is Madhura Vipaakee.

Bhaajana Sanskaara Rice stored in an earthen vessel is more Rooksha and Laghu and rice stored in metal containers retains its Snigdha Gun`a.

Keeping this process of Sanskaara in mind we will consider the difference between Vanaspatee Ghee and Ghrita or Pure Ghee.

All kinds of oils are obtained from their respective oilseeds by cold press extraction process. The common properties of oil are.

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the extracted oil is comparable to its parent see; in addition to these it has Teekshn`ataa (Intensity, sharpness), Vyavaayi (it has c capacity to spread all over the internal environment without the help of Jaat`haraagni and then be converted by the Dhaatvaagni, Sookshmatva (subtleness which makes it capable of reaching the smallest body constituents), Ushn`ataa (heat which makes it effective on Agni), along with these it also exhibits a precipitating action on skin diseases and is harmful to the eyes and eyesight as well. it is not conducive to formation of Kapha inspite of being Snigdha (unctuous).

Therefore, in general, each oil will have the Gun`a of the oilseed it has been extracted from as well as certain other Gun`a, due to the Sanskaara it is subjected to. The oil will be Kat`u Vipaaka i.e. it displays the properties of Kat`u Rasa after the process of digestion.

When Ghrita is being prepared from milk it passes through various stages. Fresh milk Dhaaroshn`a after it has been boiled gently on mild heat; due to this mild heat the Sneha in the milk separates from the Drava part and this forms a layer of cream (Santaanikaa) on the surface. After this by addition of buttermilk or curds the milk is set to form curds. The curds is then put through a process of Manthana or churning, and due to the opposite forces while churning, Takra is formed, Takra consists of Amla RasaKashaaya Anurasa and Rooksha Gun`a. Also this process of churning inevitably leads to the formations of Navneeta or butter. Navaneeta is Asthaayi (temporary) and Mridu and Snigdha. Finally due to the action of Agni on this NavaneetaGhrita which is Madhura RasaatmakaSnigdha Gun`aatmaka is formed. The water present in Navaneeta must completely evaporate for Ghrita to be formed. Also some amount of cream settles down at the bottom and forms a black residue.

Therefore Ghrita which is devoid of any unnecessary Paarthiva part, and which consists only of Sneha is formed

No TailaGhrita
1Origin / TypeSthaavaara Sneha (derived from plants / vegetable oils)Jaangama Sneha (derived from animals) 
2Effect on DoshaPitta Prakopaka Pitta S`haamaka 
3RasaKat`u Madhura 
4VipaakaKat`u Madhura 
5VeeryaUshn`a S`heeta
6KarmaVidaahee Daaha Samaka 
7Effect on S`hukra DhaatuAvrishyaVrishya 
8Effect on NetraAchakshushyaChakshushya 

Therefore the diagonally opposite properties and nature of Taila and Ghrita become clear in the above table,

Method of preparation of Vanaspatee Ghee:

The particular oil is heated until it reaches its boiling point and when it starts boiling, hydrogen gas, which has been stored under a specific amount of pressure, is mixed with it. Due to this process of mixing hydrogen under pressure with boiling hot oil (i.e. due to Sanyoga SanskaaraSaandra (dense), Mritsna (Granular), Snigdha Vanaspatee Ghee, which is similar in appearance to Ghrita, is formed.

The properties of the constituents of Vanaspatee Ghee:

  1. Taila Along with the Gun`a of its respective oilseeds, it contains a high degree of Ooshn`aVidaaheeKat`u Gun`a, and sine it is frozen at boiling point, Taila becomes Saandra (dense), Sthoola Guru and Mritsna, Manda etc in nature.
  2. Agni –Agni consists of Ooshn`aRookshaSookshmaKharaTeekshn`a and Roopa (characteristic color) Gun`a. Therefore when the oil is brought to its boiling point due to Agni Sanskaara, and hydrogen is mixed with it, the natural colour of the oil is destroyed, and it is replaced by a white or a pale yellow shade.

    The boiling oil when interacts with the hydrogen under pressure a new entity called hydrogenated vegetable oil is formed. The amount of heat required for its formation cannot be provided by the human Agni. The comparatively more intense Jaat`haraagni can just melt it in the alimentary canal / Kosht`ha but the same molten hydrogenated vegetable oil reaches the Dhaatu the infinitesimal fraction of the Jaat`haaraagni situated in the smallest functional body unit is incapable of breaking it down and metabolize it. Here the dense, slow, heavy, granular nature of the hydrogenated vegetable oil causes occlusion of the micro channels thereby hindering the normal function of the Dhaatu.
  3. Vaayu This consists of Laghu, Rooksha, S `heeta, Chala and Sparsha Gun` a. When this set of properties comes in contact with boiling oil it loses its natural Snigdha Gun`a and becomes Shlaksh`na.

Due to the above mentioned processes Vanaspatee Ghee acquires properties which are not originally present in the specific oil. S`hveta Varn`a, Saandra Gun`a, the property of melting on heating and solidifying, cooling, Vidaahee Gun`a, and its capacity to give rise to Sroto-rodha and create Agni-Maandya these are the Gun`a acquired by Taila when it undergoes various Sanskaara to form Vanaspatee Ghee. Therefore while attempting to explain Vanaspatee Ghee from an Ayurvedic view-point, it is possible to ascertain its properties despite the fact that it has not been described by the Ayurvedic texts, by applying the basic rules of Dravya Gun`a and Dosha Dhaatu and Mala Siddhaanta.

Conditions in which Vanaspatee Ghee should not be used:

  1. Agnimaandya In this condition the Agni is unable to perform its function of digestion at optimum level. In Mandaagni the time required for conversion is very long (more than Yaama Yugma / six hours). Therefore a Guru substance like Vanaspatee Ghee cannot be digested in this condition. It results invariably in generation of Aama.
  2. Amlapitta In this condition there is Agnimaandya due to increase in the Drava Gun`a of Pitta Dosha. Due to the Ushn`a and Drava Gun`a the Pitta creates Vidaaha in the body. Vanaspatee Ghee due to its Vidaahi property enhances this effect.
  3. Jvara Udara Though Agnimaandya is the causative factor behind all diseases, special importance is given to Agnimaandya in these two diseases. Also since Langhana forms and integral part of the Cikitsaa, Guru substances such as Vanaspatee Ghee. Must be avoided.
  4. Kaamalaa In this disease the Pitta Dosha in the body reaches an extremely Vidagdha Avasthaa. To consume Vanaspatee Ghee in this condition is akin to indulging in Hetu Sevana.
  5. Visarpa Visarpa mainly affects the Rakta Dhaatu in the body. Vanaspatee Ghee, due its Vidahee Gun`a cause Rakta Dhaatu Dusht`ee.
  6. S`hotha Consumption of Vanaspatee Ghee, adds to the Kleda / Drava Sanchitee in the body which are the cause of S`hotha.
  7. Unmaada Apasmaara In a condition like Apasmaara the vitiated Dosha activity envelops the Manas and Buddhi. This Dosha Aavaran`a would increase due to Vanaspatee Ghee which vitiates Kapha and Pitta.
  8. Hridroga Being extremely Guru, Manda, Saandra, Snigdha and Mritsna in nature, Vanaspatee Ghee creates Agnimaandya, thus leading to formation of Aama in the body. The Vikshepa of this Guru, Manda, Mritsna Gun`aatmaka Rasa requires more exertion on the part of the heart.

Conditions suitable for use of Vanaspatee Ghee:

  • Teekshn`aagni The kind of Agni whichrequires very less time for conversion of Aahaara, is known as Teekshn`aagni. A person having Teekshn`aagni would feel the need for food three hours after he has consumed a meal, or earlier. He would do well to consume the Vanaspatee Ghee to control the hyperactivity of Jaat`haraagni.
  • Atyagni Bhasmaka
  • Baahya or External use

Due to its Shlakshn`a, Saandra, Mritsna, Snigdha Gun`a, Vanaspatee Ghee proves useful as a Malahara / ointment in conditions like Paadadaaeei, Vipaadikaa etc.

Therefore on studying the properties of Vanaspatee Ghee, we find it does not prove beneficial to the human body, and it must be avoided as far as possible. It could very well be categorized under Sadaa Apathya or Ekaanta Ahitakara Dravya

Vaidya Vilas Nanal,
Aayurvidyaa Paarangata, B. Sc. (OT)

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021 at 06:19 am

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