Open Sesame! 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of This Super-Seed

Open Sesame! 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of This Super-Seed

Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, prized as an oilseed for at least 5,000 years.  While it is beginning to regain favor due to its exceptionally high calcium and magnesium content, few realize it is also one of the most potent medicinal foods still commonly consumed today. 

In fact, its history as a medicine goes back 3600 years to Egyptian times where it was listed in the scrolls of the Ebers as a favored medicine.  Also, women in ancient Babylon were believed to use a mixture of honey and sesame seeds (havla) to prolong youth and beauty, and Roman soldiers ate the mixture for strength and energy.

In the past twenty years, a glut of scientific information has poured in demonstrating that sesame seed, and its components, have over three dozen documented therapeutic properties [see sesame research page].  Given these new revelations, it would seem that sesame would be just as at home in a medicine cabinet as it would be a kitchen cupboard.

Here are just 10 evidence-based medicinal properties of this food-medicine:

  1. Diabetes: A study published in 2011 in the Clinical Journal of Nutrition showed that sesame oil improved the effectiveness of the oral antidiabetic drug glibenclamide in type 2 diabetic patients. [1]  Another study published in 2006 in the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that the substitution of sesame seed oil as the sole edible oil lowers blood pressure and glucose in hypertensive diabetics. [2]
  1. High Blood Pressure:  A study published in 2006 in the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine showed that sesame seed oil has a beneficial effect in hypertensive patients on either diuretics or beta-blockers. Substitution of all dietary oils with sesame oil brought down systolic and dystolic  blood pressure to normal, in addition to decreasing lipid peroxidation (bodily rancidity) and antioxidant status. [3] One of the compounds identified behind sesame seed's antihypertensive effects are peptides that act as angiotensin I-converting enzyme inhibitors.[4]
  1. Gingivitis/Dental Plaque: Sesame seed oil has been used for oral health for thousands of years in the traditional Indian medical tradition known as Ayurveda in a process known as "oil pulling." It involves swishing sesame seed oil in the mouth for prolonged durations and has been said to prevent teeth decay, halitosis, bleeding gums, dry throat, and for strengthening the teeth, gums and jaw. Clinical research now confirms that it compares favorably to chemical mouthwash (chlorhexidine) in improving plaque-induced gingivitis,[5] and that it is capable of reducing Streptococcus mutans growth associated with oral plaque formation. [6]
  1. Infant Health/Massage Oil:  A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research in 2000 showed that massaging infants with sesame oil improved both their growth and post-massage sleep, in comparison to control oils such as mineral oil.[7]
  1. Multiple Sclerosis (MS): In the animal model of MS, also known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, sesame seed oil protects mice from developing the disease by reducing IFN-gamma secretion, a key factor in initiating autoimmune inflammation and injury in the nervous system.[8] It has also been research for its potential beneficial role in another neurodegenerative condition, Huntington's disease. [9]
  1. Antibiotic-Induced Kidney Damage: Sesame seed oil protects against gentamicin-induced kidney damage in rats by reducing oxidative damage caused by the antibiotic.[10]
  1. Atherosclerosis: Sesame seed oil prevents the formation of atherosclerotic lesions in mice fed an atherogenic diet.[11]  The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory lignan found within sesame seeds known as sesamol has been identified to be partially responsible for its anti-atherogenic properties. In fact, sesamol has been shown to possess over two dozen beneficial pharmacologically active properties, many of which may contribute to improving cardiovascular health.

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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to roast or not to roast



We have been using sesame oil for years now for its therapeutic properties described above. But there is an ongoing dispute in the house - is the roasted type (known from the Japanese and Chinese cooking) as healthy as the raw one (used more in India/Middle yeast)? One would quickly assume the answer is "no", i.e. the raw one is better. But I have not read any comparative studies.

How much to use ?



I would not roast it unless it has to be used roasted and I did not read any comparative studies too. Heat can make the fat worse, especially omega 6, and makes enzymes useless(enzymes may not be much important in this food) but it may also eliminate antinutrients. Nuts and seeds are suggested to be soaked in water to get rid of antinutrients but it's not much practicable with sesame.

My question is, how much do you use and what is the amount you use based on ? Too much omega 6 may bring one closer to all inflammatory diseases:

http://atozhealthtopics.blogspot.com/2011/11/list-of-inflammatory-diseases.html

Selection between healthy foods that are high in omega 6 contradicts me. I've let myself eat a diet with high(though lower than most people's diets) omega 6 to omega 3 ratio for some time and I want to lower this ratio in my diet. Getting back to sesame, I will make a selection between sesame and eggs because they are both vitamin T and also omega 6 sources. Sesame is a source of sesamol and sesamin, and eggs are one of the best sources of phosphatidyl choline. Lignans are better obtained from high omega 3 source flax seeds, I think and other choline sources are either unpleasant to eat to me(organ meats, fat trimmed kidneys are best choline sources per calories) or inconvenient to eat enough to get enough choline(vegetables, cauliflowers are best), therefore I will try to choose eggs usually.

So which high omega 6 source foods and how much do the writers here suggest in general ? I do not know and I hope to read on this.

sesame oil properties



I will like to know if this oil can be use for cooking safely in high temperatures without degadation. Thanks in advance. Maria

Sesame



Great article! I appreciate that you are finding your own themes, not rehashing what is all over the Internet!

But it is "Sesamum indicum".

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

Correction



Thank you for the correction. 

Sesame's benefits



Sesame has so many benefits! What kind, oil? How would you incorporate this into your diet for medicinal purposes?

Oil Pulling



Thank you for this. Could you tell me how to go about doing 'oil pulling' and what else it may be good for?

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