Takra: Buttermilk, The divine healer
“He who uses takra daily does not suffer from diseases, and diseases cured by takra do not recur; just as amrita (divine nector) is for the gods, takra is to humans.” Bhavaprakasha Chpt 6.7
Takra or buttermilk, not to be confused with the buttermilk we buy already prepared by other methods in the store, is a liquid preparation prepared by continuously churning yogurt in water. This preparation is used in many diseases and is overall quite healthy for the human being. It is a great treatment for IBD and Crohn’s disease as well as poor digestion, hemorrhoids, tumors, oedema, diarrhea, anemia, urinary diseases and many more.
When taken in the correct quantity, takra cleanses the channels of circulation (srotas), as a result of which rasa, the end product of digestion of food, reaches the tissues properly. It creates proper nourishment, strength, and complexion. It cures one hundred diseases including those of vata (80 in number) and kapha (20 in number).
There is no medicine better than buttermilk for treatment of hemorrhoids cause by vata and kapha. – Charaka Samhita CS. Chpt 14The microchannels carrying nutrients to all cells in the body, when they get clogged or blocked due to any reason, the particular organ or system suffers in efficiency due to lack of nutrition. It is essential to remove such blockages. The herbs or their combinations which tackle these problems are termed “Rasayana” in Ayurveda. The forces which cause the blockage or resistance must be removed. The channels which cause transport are termed “strotas”. Charaka states that buttermilk removes such blockages and purifies the “strotas”. This causes better movement (ayana) of the nutrients (anna-rasa). When adequate nutrition is obtained by cells (koshas), they start working with full force.
Due to saturation or ageing of strotas during old-age, the control systems of the body do not get adequate nutrients, which causes aging symptoms such as reduction of memory (dementia), reduced vision, wrinkles on the skin, graying of hair, etc.
But those who take buttermilk regularly, slow aging, keep their arteries flexible for a longer time. Thus buttermilk is an elixir (param-amrutam) which keeps `Jara’ (oldage) and `Vyadhi’ (disease) away. The ayurveda treats buttermilk as an excellent food to keep cholesterol related problems miles away.
With all of that said, you see how great takra is for health of digestion and this means the entire health of the body and mind.
There are three types of Takra according to Acharya Charaka.
1. with all of the butter removed or skimmed or put through a strainer
2. with half of the butter removed
3. With no butter removed
These are used as per the individual’s health and constitution mainly based upon their ability to digest.
The properties of takra are:
Taste: Astringent, sour, and sweet
Secondary taste: Astringent
Potency or energy: Hot
Post digestive effect: Sweet
Quality: Binding, light, dry
Actions: digestive, promotes intellect and nourishes the brain tissues, promotes immunity, pacifies vata, and gives satisfaction.
Contraindications of taking takra:
In early summer and Autumn.
When there is open wounds
One who suffers from: burning sensations, fainting, pulmonary consumption, and bleeding diseases.
How to make it:
This is really easy. Just take a small amount (1/5th) fresh whole yogurt and add it to 4/5th water. The easiest way i have found to do the churning is to put it in a bottle, make sure the lid is screwed on tight and shake the mixture for a couple minutes. The butter will separate from the curd and float and make dry looking bubbles. This is the part you might be skimming off the top if the digestion is really weak.
To this mixture many herbs can be added as per the desired effect for treatment of different ailments. As a general drink it is good with a little of roasted cumin and some rock salt. Another delicious way to have it is with some coriander and a little salt. My favorite is with a bit of rock sugar added. (pitta) A classical way to mix is using asafoetida (hing) and rock salt.
How to use:
For general digestive problems this little drink can be taken for breakfast. As for treatment of other diseases it is best to see a real ayurvedic doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
The buttermilk made by adding water 25% by volume of curd is “warming”, called “Takra”, and therefore should not be taken in late summer and fall when pitta is accumulating and going into excess (note here that Western Ayurveda is incorrect in teaching that pitta is high in summer due to it being hot. This idea of pitta being in prakopa in summer is the normal Western superficial and wrong understanding of Ayurveda with no depth of the details. With any real knowledge and experience of Ayurveda, one sees that the beginning of summer is the driest part of the year when vata is accumulating and pitta being water and fire… cannot be high unless someone already has high pitta or an imbalance of water in their system. Pitta accumulates in late summer and goes into excess in Autumn. This all based off the movement of the sun and the length of the day and is foundational to Ayurveda as well as other Vedic sciences). Excess diluted buttermilk (100% water added to equal quantity butter) is “cooling” in nature.
Care is necessary to see that curd is not sour (yogurt bought in the store is excessively sour) and water added should be taken warm in winter and cold in summer. Buttermilk is not recommended after sunset. Especially for asthmatics. If must, make a special recipe by adding a little chickpea flour, turmeric powder, green chillies, to kill its Kapha promoting tendency.
Butter milk detoxifies body and cleanses the intestines, relieves constipation and helps to replenish intestinal flora. It has less fat compared to milk and is rich in calcium, potassium and vit B12.
Each 100 grams of Buttermilk consists of the Nutrient Values in below mentioned proportions
- Energy – 40 kcal
- Carbohydrates – 4.8 gms
- Fat – 0.9 gms
- Protein – 3.3 gms
- Calcium – 116 mgs