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Sesame Oil’s Health Benefits From Head To Toe!

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Health Benefits Of Sesame Oil

The unique blend of antioxidants in sesame oil makes it beneficial as both an edible oil and a topical application. Consuming it can help prevent cancer and control cholesterol levels, hypertension, thus reducing your chances of heart disease. Used topically, the oil can treat mild burns, eczema, and is believed to nourish the scalp, control dandruff, stimulate hair growth.

Sesame oil’s rich aroma and nutty flavor have made it a favorite ingredient in many cuisines, especially Asian. But it’s not just about the taste – sesame oil has a nutritional profile that makes it incredibly versatile. This wholesome edible oil can also do your skin and hair a world of good. Sesame oil features prominently in traditional remedies and massage therapies – a nod to its many benefits!

So, what’s the magic ingredient? Sesame oil is rich in natural antioxidants, including sesamin, sesamolin, and tocopherol, as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Sesamin and sesamolin, in particular, are plant fibers with many pharmacological benefits.1 Sesame oil also has vitamins K and E.

Why You Should Have Sesame Oil

1. Controls Hypertension

Having sesame oil regularly can help control hypertension, mostly due to its abundance of sesamin. In one study, 50 hypertensive patients on antihypertensive medication (diuretics and beta-blockers) were asked to add sesame oil to their diet in place of other edible oils. After 45 days, both systolic and diastolic pressure showed significant improvements. Incidentally, body weight and body mass index (BMI) also reduced. Other notable changes included a drop in triglyceride levels and a rise in levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.2

2. Prevents Atherosclerosis

The antioxidant properties of sesamin and sesamol make sesame oil cardio- and neuro-protective. These lignans can minimize plaque buildup in the arteries and effectively prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases, including a serious condition called atherosclerosis.3

3. Controls Cholesterol

The PUFAs in sesame oil are anti-inflammatory and can reduce the formation of blood clots, suppress abnormal heart rhythms, dilate blood vessels, and lower lipid content in the blood. A bonanza as far as your heart’s concerned! Linoleic acid, which makes up 35–50 percent of the fatty acids in sesame oil, lowers blood cholesterol, which subsequently helps lower your risk of heart disease.4

4. Protects The Brain

PUFAs found in sesame also play a vital role in brain function by reducing cognitive decline.5 One study even found the oil’s potential in treating Parkinson’s disease.6

5. Keeps Cancer At Bay

The sesamin in sesame oil can also help prevent cancer. According to various studies and tests, sesamin was found to inhibit the growth of cancers of the prostate, pancreas, lung, colon, and breast. It also inhibited the spread of leukemia and multiple myeloma.7

That’s not all. Another study found that when sesamol was administered before chemotherapy sessions it reduced the cell damage that is usually brought on by radiation.8

6. Provides Cold And Pain Relief

The antioxidants in sesame oil regulate inflammation in the body. The oil also acts as an antipyretic and analgesic, reducing inflammation and relieving pain. As a regular dietary supplement, sesame can be useful in managing inflammatory diseases.9

Sesame oil is also antiviral and can help fight off colds and sinusitis. When applied nasally, it can clear nasal congestion quite effectively. In fact, a Swedish study found that sesame oil showed better results than saline nasal drops in treating nasal dryness and stuffiness. It also reduced the formation of nasal crusts.10

7. Keeps Skin Soft And Hair Shiny

Packed with vitamin E, sesame oil acts as an emollient, making your skin soft and supple. The oil has natural antibacterial properties against commonly occurring skin pathogens such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, and natural antifungal properties against skin fungi such as athlete’s foot fungus. It can be used to treat eczema and mild burns, too.11

Sesame oil also works as a natural sunscreen. It can resist about 30 percent of UV rays.12

Sesame oil can work some magic on your mane, too! It is traditionally used in Ayurveda as a hair oil and for head massages. The vitamin E content of sesame oil is believed to nourish the scalp and stimulate hair growth. It can also help control hair and scalp problems such as lice and dandruff. One Asian study of 270 subjects, largely well-educated, looked into folk remedies still used to treat various medical conditions. Sesame oil was a popular remedy to control dandruff and hair loss and to improve hair quality.13

8. Other Benefits

  • Because of its laxative effects, sesame oil can ease constipation and hemorrhoids when taken internally.14
  • Abundant in vitamin K, it can strengthen your bones and help in blood clotting.15
  • Sesame oil is the preferred oil for massaging infants in many parts of India. Infants who received a regular sesame oil massage as part of a four-week study showed significant improvement in growth and sleep patterns when compared to infants who did not receive the massage, and even infants who received a massage with other oils.16
  • Sesame oil has a long shelf life and it does not turn rancid easily. This is because of its inherent antioxidant sesamol.17

Wisdom From Alternative Practices

Known as tila in Sanskrit, sesame oil is highly regarded in Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Here are some specific uses of sesame oil in alternative therapy.

Abhyanga And Shirodhara

Ayurvedic massages like abhyanga and shirodhara use sesame oil mixed with herbs to eliminate toxins and calm your central nervous system.18 In one study, 10 healthy women and 10 healthy men received a one-hour abhyanga massage using sesame oil mixed with a small amount of coconut oil. Following the massage, subjects showed a drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.19

Gandusha Or Oil Pulling

Oil pulling or gandusha is a traditional practice that involves swishing a spoonful of sesame oil in your mouth for about 15 minutes on an empty stomach. This is believed to pull out toxins and improve your oral health. Since Ayurveda states that our teeth are directly connected to certain parts of our body, gandusha is believed to work on our overall health as well.20 In the Charaka Samhita, the process is described as being able to cure 30 systemic diseases ranging from migraine headaches to asthma and diabetes. Though other oils can be used, sesame oil is the preferred oil for gandusha.

In one study, 20 adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis went through the process of sesame oil pulling every morning for 10 days. The therapy was found to be extremely effective against plaque-induced gingivitis. The mechanism by which this therapy works is, however, still not understood completely. It is possible that the high viscosity of sesame oil stops bacteria from sticking to the teeth and effectively prevents plaque buildup.21

Aromatherapy

In aromatherapy, sesame oil is used as a carrier oil with which essential oils are diluted for better application and absorption through the skin.22

What To Look For

  • Cold-Pressed Vs. Hot-Pressed: Though sesame oil is relatively easy to find in any Asian grocery store, look for the cold-pressed version, which will have most of the oil’s great nutrients intact. Sesame oil has a high smoke point, so it can be used for deep-frying. It is best to use the light-colored, cold-pressed oil for this. The dark-colored, hot-pressed oil from toasted seeds is of a slightly lower grade and is more suitable for sautéing. It has an intense flavor but can burn easily. In fact, it is often added as a flavoring agent just before completing a dish.
  • Safety And Toxicity: Sesame oil is generally safe to use. There is no recommended maximum dosage or toxicity level. It generally does not cause skin irritations when used as a massage oil or as a cosmetic ingredient.23 However, you should consult your doctor before adding sesame oil to your daily diet if you are taking any anti-coagulant or blood-thinning medication. Since sesame oil also lowers blood pressure, combining the two could be risky.
  • Allergy Alert: Sesame oil may cause allergic reactions in some people, especially in those who are prone to nut allergies. Since cold-pressed sesame oil is not as refined as other plant oils, it retains most of the allergens that may cause reactions in those allergic to nuts or sesame.24

References   [ + ]

1, 4, 5, 11. Pathak, Niti, A. K. Rai, Ratna Kumari, and K. V. Bhat. “Value addition in sesame: A perspective on bioactive components for enhancing utility and profitability.” Pharmacognosy reviews 8, no. 16 (2014): 147.
2. Sankar, D., M. Ramakrishna Rao, G. Sambandam, and K. V. Pugalendi. “Effect of sesame oil on diuretics or ß-blockers in the modulation of blood pressure, anthropometry, lipid profile, and redox status.” Yale J Biol Med 79, no. 1 (2006): 19-26.
3. Wu, Wen‐Huey, Shu‐Huei Wang, I‐I. Kuan, Ya‐shi Kao, Pei‐Jhen Wu, Chan‐Jung Liang, Hsiung‐Fei Chien, Chiu‐Hua Kao, Ching‐Jang Huang, and Yuh‐Lien Chen. “Sesamin attenuates intercellular cell adhesion molecule‐1 expression in vitro in TNF‐α‐treated human aortic endothelial cells and in vivo in apolipoprotein‐E‐deficient mice.” Molecular nutrition & food research 54, no. 9 (2010): 1340-1350.
6. Ahmad, Saif, M. Badruzzaman Khan, M. Nasrul Hoda, Kanchan Bhatia, Rizwanul Haque, Inayat Saleem Fazili, Arshad Jamal, Jafar Salamt Khan, and Deepshikha Pande Katare. “Neuroprotective effect of sesame seed oil in 6-hydroxydopamine induced neurotoxicity in mice model: cellular, biochemical and neurochemical evidence.” Neurochemical research 37, no. 3 (2012): 516-526.
7. Harikumar, Kuzhuvelil B., Bokyung Sung, Sheeja T. Tharakan, Manoj K. Pandey, Beena Joy, Sushovan Guha, Sunil Krishnan, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. “Sesamin manifests chemopreventive effects through the suppression of NF-κB–regulated cell survival, proliferation, invasion, and angiogenic gene products.” Molecular Cancer Research 8, no. 5 (2010): 751-761.
8. Prasad, N. Rajendra, Venugopal P. Menon, V. Vasudev, and K. V. Pugalendi. “Radioprotective effect of sesamol on γ-radiation induced DNA damage, lipid peroxidation and antioxidants levels in cultured human lymphocytes.” Toxicology 209, no. 3 (2005): 225-235.
9. Saleem, TS Mohamed, S. Darbar Basha, G. Mahesh, PV Sandhya Rani, N. Suresh Kumar, and C. M. Chetty. “Analgesic, anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory activity of dietary sesame oil in experimental animal models.” Pharmacologia 2, no. 6 (2011): 172-7.
10. Johnsen, Jörgen, Britt-Marie Bratt, Oskar Michel-Barron, Christer Glennow, and Björn Petruson. “Pure sesame oil vs isotonic sodium chloride solution as treatment for dry nasal mucosa.” Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery 127, no. 11 (2001): 1353-1356.
12. Korać, Radava R., and Kapil M. Khambholja. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation.” Pharmacognosy reviews 5, no. 10 (2011): 164.
13. Qidwai, Waris, Salman Raza Alim, Raheem H. Dhanani, Sana Jehangir, Aysha Nasrullah, and Ammara Raza. “Use of folk remedies among patients in Karachi Pakistan.” J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 15, no. 2 (2003): 31-3.
14. Lim, T. K. Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants, Volume 4: Fruits. Springer Netherlands, 2012.
15. Weber, Peter. “Vitamin K and bone health.” Nutrition 17, no. 10 (2001): 880-887.
16. Agarwal, K. N., Ashish Gupta, Ravi Pushkarna, and S. K. Bhargava. “Effects of massage & use of oil on growth, blood flow & sleep pattern in infants.” Indian Journal of Medical Research 112 (2000): 212.
17. Sesame Profile. Agricultural Marketing Research Center.
18. K. Ravindran. Happy Living A Holistic and Practical Guide to Optimise Mind and Body. New Dawn Books, 2006.
19. Basler, Annetrin Jytte. “Pilot study investigating the effects of Ayurvedic abhyanga massage on subjective stress experience.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 17, no. 5 (2011): 435-440.
20. Frohn, Birgit. The Oil Pulling Miracle: Detoxify Simply and Effectively. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co, 2015.
21. Asokan, Sharath, Pamela Emmadi, and Raghuraman Chamundeswari. “Effect of oil pulling on plaque induced gingivitis: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind study.” Indian Journal of Dental Research 20, no. 1 (2009): 47.
22. Capellini, Steve. The complete spa book for massage therapists. Cengage Learning, 2012.
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