Sesame oil is a light, nutritious oil obtained from sesame seeds. It has got lots of uses and health benefits. Sesame oil may not be the most popular oil in our times, but it was the most sought after oil in Ancient India. One of the earliest and profound writers on Ayurveda, Charaka in his Charaka Samhita mentions that sesame oil is the best oil. It was widely used back then for alleviating the body from various diseases and conditions. That is perhaps the oldest reference to this oil. Only now are we beginning to realize the strong health benefits of sesame seed oil.
Sesame oil can help one achieve flawless skin, healthy hair and radiant health from the inside out. Here, we look at the medicinal qualities of sesame oil and its nutritional value.
Sesame oil comes from sesame seeds. These are the seeds obtained from a variety of species in the broad genus Sesamum. The plants in this genus have a special ability. They tolerate drought very well. People of the ancient civilizations in India, China, Egypt and in Middle East discovered that sesame seeds are good for producing oil. Sesame oil is thus one of the oldest extracted oils in the history of human civilization.
Sesame seeds are mainly of two types –
- White sesame seeds – These are white or creamy in color. Oil obtained from these sesame seeds has a lighter color.
- Black sesame seeds – These are dark in color, and the oil obtained from these seeds is dark in color.
There are other colors of sesame seeds as well, like yellow and red.
There are many varieties of processed and adulterated sesame seed oil in the market. One should be wary of such oils. A good idea is to always go for cold pressed virgin, or extra virgin sesame seed oil, whether you want to use it in recipes or as massage oil.
Sesame oil has got many powerful therapeutic and medicinal properties. The source of these properties are often taken from ancient medicinal texts, like Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita and Ebers Papyrus ( famous ancient papyrus scroll from Ancient Egyptian civilization ). Few of these properties have been evaluated and verified through scientific research.
- Anti-inflammatory – it aids in reducing inflammation because of healthy fatty acids in it.
- Antioxidant – Sesame oil contains many antioxidants. It does not spoil quickly because of these antioxidant nutrients.
- Anti-diabetic – relieves diabetes.
- Hypotensive – lowers blood pressure.
- Anti-bacterial – kills many strains of bacteria.
- Anti-atherogenic – reduces the risk of atherosclerosis
- Anti-depressant – lowers the state of depression.
- DNA protection – sesame oil safeguards the DNA of body cells from damage by external factors, like radiation.
- Anti-cancer – sesame oil has now been identified to protect and inhibit the growth of specific cancers, as we shall see later.
- Emollient – excellent moisturizer, heals dry skin.
- Anti-aging – sesame oil has powerful anti-aging nutrients !
- Skin regeneration – promotes repair and regrowth of skin cells.
- Cicatrizant – moderate wound healing property.
- Sunscreen – sesame oil has natural SPF, although mild. It doesn’t compare to sunblocks, but it can be used in natural sunscreen formulations.
- Anti-rheumatic – used in Ayurvedic oil formulations as base oil to infuse herbs. These are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
- Anti-cholesterol – improves lipid profile of people who use it.
- Detoxifying – one of the few massage oils known to remove toxins from the body.
- Warming – creates a warming sensation upon massage.
- Laxative – quickly provides relief from constipation.