Buttermilk, known as takra in Sanskrit, holds a very special place in the ancient system of healthy living from India, known as Ayurveda.
It was written in one of the ancient Ayurvedic texts:
“He who uses takra daily does not suffer from diseases, and diseases cured by takra do not recur.” AND “Just as divine nectar is for the gods, takra is to humans.”—Bhavaprakasha Chapter 6.7
Health benefits of Ayurvedic buttermilk
- #1 Ayurvedic treatment for IBS
- Supports absorption of nutrients
- Nourishes the brain
- Reduces bad cholesterol
- Assists in the digestion of fats
- Supports hydration due to high electrolyte content
- Restores healthy appetite
- Supports weight reduction
- Restores the intelligence of the colon and relieves constipation and gas
- Helpful for acid reflux, Crohn's Disease, and digestive weakness
- Alleviates hemorrhoids
- Improves circulation
Buttermilk is a very unique in that it is a very healthy low-fat dairy product. It is also very easy to digest, since the probiotic lactic acid bacteria in the cultured yogurt have already started the work of digestion.
It may also be tolerable for people with lactose intolerance, since lactose is contained in the fat, and the fat can be removed when making buttermilk.
Beneficial for IBS, Crohn’s Disease, acid reflux, and digestive weakness
In India, Ayurvedic buttermilk is a top choice for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to Dr. Rohit Mehta B.A.M.S., MD, senior medical officer at the Himalayan Research Institute for Yoga & Naturopathy.
This is linked to the health benefits of restoring the intelligence of the colon, and its constipation relieving properties, however I could not find medical studies supporting this.
I did find an article suggesting that curry leaves in particular are helpful to add to buttermilk for IBS.
Curry leaves are mild, lemony, and slightly pungent. You can find them fresh or dried at Indian grocers. The fresh leaves freeze well, so it's convenient to have them always on hand.
Buttermilk is also alkaline forming, so it can be very helpful in cases of acid reflux. Ayurvedic buttermilk cools and soothes the esophagus and stomach.
What makes probiotic buttermilk special?
Although Ayurvedic buttermilk is made from yogurt, the nature of the yogurt once transformed into takra is completely different.
In the process of making buttermilk, water and spices are added, which adds lightness and digestive support to the drink. Sometimes the fat is also removed.
The process of blending while making buttermilk also serves to promote better digestion.
Live cultures in the yogurt are probiotic and very beneficial for gut health, and since this is a highly digestible drink designed to promote metabolism—including on the subtlest of levels—you can be assured that the beneficial bacteria will be welcomed by your body.
Instead of expensive probiotics supplements, you can make buttermilk at home in under 10 minutes.
With a variety of spices and flavors to experiment with, your new probiotic supplement is waiting for you to try and enjoy.
For those who prefer a plant-based probiotic buttermilk, use a cultured plant-based yogurt of your choice and follow the same steps.
How to make
Takra is a drink made from yogurt, water, a pinch of salt, and digestive herbs and spices.
It is made with 1 part yogurt and 4 parts water. It is then blended (usually in a blender, but you can also shake it in a jar).
The blending process separates the fat from the yogurt. The fat will appear as frothy bubbles floating on the top of the takra.
You can use a spoon to remove the fat, or strain the takra through a sieve.
You can choose to remove all of the fat, most of it, half of it, or none of it.
When to enjoy probiotic buttermilk
In India, buttermilk is regularly enjoyed after lunch, but it can also be had with your meal.
Ayurvedic practitioner Kerry Harling says Ayurvedic buttermilk is helpful after a heavy meal.
She says drinking a small glass of buttermilk helps to wash down fats and oils that normally accumulate on the inner walls of the digestive tract. E
Enjoy just ½ cup to 1 cup at a time.
You can also enjoy Ayurvedic buttermilk in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, or as digestive support.
It is particularly nice when you are feeling overheated. In this case, I suggest adding cilantro, which is also cooling.
Enjoy probiotic buttermilk at room temperature or slightly chilled. If you consume it very cold, it will feel heavier.
Basic Ayurvedic Buttermilk (Takra) Recipe
- ¼ cup whole milk or plant-based yogurt
- ¾ cup cold water
- pinch mineral salt
- Place the yogurt and water in your blender.
- Blend until very frothy (30-60 seconds).
- Add any spices or herbs you desire and pulse briefly. See the options below for ideas.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy. Store any remainder at room temperature, and use the same day. This recipe makes 1 to 2 servings, depending on your appetite.
Tasty spice combinations
Start with the basic recipe, and then spice it up with the fun and flavorful options below!
Best for digestion
- roasted cumin and salt
- coriander and salt
- roasted cumin, fresh cilantro, black pepper, and salt (strain through a sieve)
- ground ginger, cumin, and salt
- asafetida, cumin, and salt (helpful for gas and bloating)
- ground ginger, cumin, and coriander (gas and bloating)
- dry ginger and salt
* Individuals with constipation may find the astringent quality of the buttermilk makes their stools drier. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime mitigates this.
Best for relieving heaviness
- with trikatu
- with black pepper
- with pippali and black salt (constipation/IBS)
- with fresh mint, black pepper, and salt
Best for summer and cooling
- with sugar
- with sugar and cardamom
- with sugar, rose water, and cardamom
- with fresh or dried mint
- with sugar and fresh mint
For more information about Indian spices, see A Guide to Indian Spices.
Have you heard about Ayurveda's extraordinary Ginger-Lime Pickle? Visit this post to learn how it can support your digestion, increase hydration, reduce inflammation, and more!