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A popular and edible oil that adds a rich, nutty flavor to your foods, is sesame oil. It is high in omega-6 fats and can provide certain health benefits, when moderately and properly used. This oil is derived from sesame (Sesamum indicum), which is a tall annual herb that comes from the Pedaliaceae family. Commonly used as a food ingredient and condiment, sesame oil is also used for medicinal purposes. Cultivated for thousands of years, it is believed to be the world’s oldest plant used as an oil. Sesame today grows extensively in Asia, China, Burma and India. In Sudan, Ethiopia and Nigeria, sesame oil is one of the chief commercial crops.
The light sesame oil is made from raw sesame seeds and has a light nutty flavor, whereas the dark sesame oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and has a stronger flavor and aroma. In Ayurvedic medicine, sesame oil is used as a base oil for about 90% of the herbal oils, and is renowned for it ability to strengthen and detoxify the body. It is also used in sacred and religious ceremonies. The oil is used today as a common component of skin and massage oils, hair care products, cosmetics, soaps, perfumes and sunscreens. It has a great moisturizing, soothing and emollient quality.
Some uses of the oil are:
Skin moisturizer. Apply to the skin to keep it soft and smooth, and from wrinkles forming.
Remove toxins from your mouth. This is considered oil pulling, however, coconut oil is better for this as it tastes better.
Natural sunscreen. Apply all over your face and body, and reapply after getting out of the water.
Skin detoxifier. Oil-soluble toxins are attracted to sesame seed oil molecules. Apply on your skin, leave for 15 minutes, then wash it off with warm water.
Boosts scalp and hair health. Massage oil into your scalp and hair to keep hair strong and shiny. Effective at relieving dry scalp, dandruff and hair loss.
There are some potential health benefits that can be found on sesame in the medical literature, such as:
Diabetes – A 2006 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Multiple sclerosis – Sesame oil helped from developing autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice.
Atherosclerosis – The sesamol was found to have an impact on the atherosclerotic process.
Cancer – Using high concentrations of sesomol and sesamin in sesame oil has been found to induce mitochondrial apoptosis in colon cancer as well as in prostate, breast, lung, leukemia, multiple myeloma and pancreatic cancers.
Sesame oil is generally safe and has been evaluated safe for use in cosmetics. This assessment was published in the International Journal of Toxicology. It is a mild inflammatory and has high omega-6 levels. They recommend consuming it in very small amounts. Do NOT consume or use this oil if you have an allergy to sesame seeds, as it may lead to allergic reactions. Pregnant women or nursing moms should use extreme caution. It may have hormone-inducing effects that could trigger uterine contractions that can lead to preterm labor or miscarriage in the pregnant women.
Sesame allergy is a very real concern in today’s world. Some symptoms of sesame allergy can be mild itching to anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal condition that can restrict breathing within seconds to hours of contact. Some reports have found that people with allergy to nuts, like walnuts and peanuts, may also experience allergic reactions to sesame seeds and oil.
-Dr Fredda Branyon