Sesame Oil

Black Seed Oil

Sesame Oil

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 the 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. The oil obtained from these sesame seeds has 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 on 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 massage oil. 


Sesame oil has got many powerful therapeutic and medicinal properties. The source of these properties is 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 a base oil to infuse herbs. These are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Anti-cholesterol – improves the 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.

You can’t help but ponder that ancient person revered this oil because of its healing properties. There are many more of its uses and properties mentioned in those books, but they have become difficult to decipher and understand. Hopefully, we can get to know many more beneficial medicinal properties of sesame oil in due course of time and bring it back to its glory.

Uses and Health Benefits

We have seen the properties of this oil, now let’s put it to use. These are how one can use sesame seed oil at home, cold-pressed, of course.

1. Sesame Oil For Face Care

 Sesame oil should be applied directly to the facial skin. It improves the skin texture, making it softer and smoother. Because of its emollient properties, it moisturizes the skin. Applying a small amount of sesame seed oil can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. This effect is because of a special micronutrient called sesamol. It can also lighten sun spots and irregular pigmentation. Because its antioxidant and sunscreen properties provide double protection from UV – B induced skin damage. 

2. Massage Oil 

Despite being slightly heavier than other massage oils, Sesame oil can still be used for a massage. It is preferable used for detoxifying the body through the skin. Here is how to correctly massage using sesame oil. Warm sesame oil till it is just as warm as tepid water. Now apply it in copious amounts on the skin. The idea is to bathe the skin in this oil. Massage it firmly into the skin. Keep the oil on the skin for about 15 – 30 minutes. Wash the oil down with water. This is ideal for an early morning massage before the shower, although one can use it any time. This massage removes many environmental toxins and internal toxins ( released by the liver to the skin ), leaving the body detoxified. Skin is the largest organ in the body and a prominent means of removing toxins from the body. On the contrary, we absorb toxins from the skin, many of which are trapped inside the skin. This massage also improves the blood circulation of the skin, making the skin perform better.

According to Ayurveda, sesame oil is used daily for a self-massage, called Abhyanga . This massage aims to strengthen the tissues of the body, reduce physical stress, improve skin appearance, and protect from advancing old age. Sesame is renowned for its ability to neutralize “Vata” disorders. Infant Massage – Although the dominant oils for infant massage are olive oil and mustard oil. But, sesame oil too can be used for this purpose. This study [1] found out that applying sesame oil to baby’s skin promotes growth in them. Babies massaged with sesame oil registered an added increase in height, weight, and circumference of their arms, although serum levels of nutrients remained the same. It also boosted sleep after massage. 

3. Sesame Oil For Hair Growth 

Just as for skin, sesame oil makes a great massage for the scalp. It deeply conditions the scalp and improves the health of hair follicles. These are the health benefits of sesame oil for hair health.

  • Sesame oil treats damaged hair. Our hair gets damaged due to chemicals, like soaps, shampoo, conditioners, hair colors, and even from the high heat of the rollers and straighteners. Sesame oil returns hair to its original health ( to some extent ). It dissolves away many toxins that accumulate on the scalp. It can also dissolve many oil-soluble vitamins and minerals which may have deposited on the scalp. This usually happens because of bathing in seawater or water that has TDS ( total dissolved solids ).
  • Sesame oil hot oil treatment – Apply warm sesame oil on the scalp as part of hot oil treatment. This makes hair softer and detangles them. Hot oil treatment is done for deep conditioning.
  • Provides nutrition to hair follicles – Sesame oil has a good essential fatty acid profile that boosts hair follicles’ health.
  • Scalp psoriasis – Sesame oil helps in scalp psoriasis as it eliminates flakiness and dryness. That is why it also combats dandruff.
  • May prevent hair loss – Sesame oil may be useful in preventing hair loss that occurs because of a fungal scalp infection. Sesame oil is a potent anti-fungal, and it kills the fungi to keep scalp fungi free.
  • Quick shine – Going out and need some shine to dull hair? No problem. Just take 4 – 5 drops of sesame in your palm and run them through your hair. Enjoy the shine. Massaging at the ends gets rid of split ends.
  • Get rid of lice – Add a few drops of lavender oil and rosemary oil to sesame oil and apply hot oil treatment on the scalp. Lice are gone. Use a nit comb to extract their eggs.

4. Calm depression 

Sesame oil, when taken internally or as a massage, helps manage depression better. Research has identified that sesamol from sesame oil helps produce cytokines ( like TNF – α ) [2]. This reduces the risk of developing clinical depression because of stress.

5. Oil Pulling with Sesame Oil 

One may be familiar with the ancient practice of oil pulling. For that f you who don’t know, oil pulling is the act of swishing oil inside the mouth. Commonly, coconut oil is popular for this practice. Sesame oil can also be used for oil pulling. Take a mouthwash amount of sesame oil. Swish it inside the mouth for about 5 minutes. It kills bad bacteria in the mouth, fungi species like candida that cause oral thrush, protects teeth and gums. This practice is also helpful in gingivitis. [3] 

6. Better Intestinal Health 

Sesame oil helps to improve intestinal health. Regular consumption of sesame oil in the diet may improve certain inflammatory conditions of the alimentary canal, like IBS, IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn’s disease. It is also helpful in treating intestinal obstruction, which leads to fecal smelling vomiting. [4] 

7. Maintain a healthy cholesterol level

Because of healthy fatty acids, sesame oil can reduce LDL cholesterol, all the while keeping HDL cholesterol up. Since the concentration of HDL cholesterol ( good cholesterol ) increases, the body becomes healthier. Sesame oil can thus reduce the risk of heart disease. 

8. Anti-Cancer 

Sesame oil has been identified as an anti-cancer to specific cancers.

  • Colon Cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Renal cancer
  • Melanoma ( skin cancer )
  • Leukemia

The anti-cancer effect of sesame oil is due to lignin called sesamin. It possesses a cytotoxic effect against cancer cells, effectively blocking their proliferation. 

9. Anti-Diabetes 

Sesame oil shows blood glucose-lowering effects when sesame is the oil they take into the diet. This is of great significance. [6] 

10. Going swimming in the pool, use sesame oil.

 Many people note that their hair starts turning greenish when they have been swimming regularly in the pool. This effect can be negated by applying sesame oil before or after the swim. It leaches out the chlorine. Applying it on the outer rim of the ear canal also prevents outer ear infection ( swimmer’s ear ). 

11. Sesame oil in the diet  

One can cook with sesame oil. It has got a nice, sweet taste and mild aroma. Sesame oil can add to salads and foods like chicken. One can also use toasted sesame oil, which has a richer flavor and great for additive in recipes. Cooking with sesame oil is usually avoided. If you have a recipe that calls for toasted sesame oil, and you want a substitute for sesame oil, then use walnut oil or perilla oil

Side Effects, Safe Dosage, and Toxicity Issues

Sesame oil is generally safe, even in moderate dosages. It is not a skin irritant. It is, therefore, usually safe for massage. It does not make the skin photosensitive, so that you can wear it in the sun as well. There is no specific information about its safe dosage limit or any toxicity problems. However, people with allergies to sesame seeds should avoid this oil. It should also not be used by people who are prone to chronic diarrhea.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Sesame oil packs a punch in terms of nutrition. It is low in saturated fat and high in MUFA ( monounsaturated fatty acid ) and PUFA ( polyunsaturated fatty acid ). 100 gm sesame oil contains –

  • Saturated fat – 14.2 gm
  • MUFA – 39.7 gm
  • PUFA – 41.7 gm
Palmitic Acid 7 – 12 %Saturated fat
Stearic Acid 3.5 – 6 %Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid 0.5 %MUFA
Oleic Acid 35 %MUFA
Linoleic Acid 35 – 50 %PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid 1 %PUFA
Arachidic Acid tracesPUFA
Eicosenoic Acid 1 %PUFA
Behenic tracesPUFA
Erucic tracesPUFA
Sesamol traces Antidepressant
Sesamolin traces Improves lipid profile
Sesamin traces Anti-cancer
Vitamin E 1.4 mg Vitamin and antioxidant
Vitamin K 13.6 μg Vitamin

Data were taken from USDA National Nutrient DataBase 

NOTE – Surprisingly, sesame oil’s most prominent health benefits are attributed not to the major omega – 6 fatty acids ( linoleic acid ) but the three sesame specific nutrients – sesamin, sesamolin, and sesamin. This asserts that even the micro-nutrients found in trace amounts can hold the key to the strongest and most powerful medicinal effects of foods. Other important chemical properties of sesame oil.

Density 0.915  g/mlgreat for massage oil
Storage temperature –No specific requirements
Comedogenicity 2Rated from 0 to 5

The ORAC ( oxygen radical absorbance capacity ) of sesame oil is not available. However, with more research work, we expect to get this value quickly. It is important to know how potent an antioxidant sesame oil. Based on other inputs and the fact that sesame oil does not go bad for days, it can be assumed that sesame oil is a powerful antioxidant. Sesame oil possibly has many more yet undiscovered health benefits. It can have the ability to boost bone health, heal injuries and also boost longevity. Sesame oil in the diet may also have a regenerative effect on fat-based tissues of the body, thus keeping the mind and body protected from the advances of aging.


1. Effects of massage & use of oil on growth, blood flow & sleep pattern in infants. Agarwal KN, Gupta A, Pushkarna R, Bhargava SK, Faridi MM, Prabhu MK. NCBI.

2. Neuropsychopharmacological effect of sesamol in unpredictable chronic mild stress model of depression: behavioral and biochemical evidence. Kumar B, Kuhad A, Chopra K.

3. Effect of oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in plaque and saliva using Dentocult SM Strip mutans test: a randomized, controlled, triple-blind study. Asokan S, Rathan J, Muthu MS, Rathna PV, Emmadi P; Raghuraman; Chamundeswari. NCBI.

4. Therapeutic value of sesame oil in the treatment of adhesive small bowel obstruction. Ji ZL, Li JS, Yuan CW, Chen WD, Zhang YN, Ju XT, Tang WH.NCBI.

5. The lignan, (−)-sesamin reveals cytotoxicity toward cancer cells: Pharmacogenomic determination of genes associated with sensitivity or resistance. Mohamed Saeeda, Hassan Khalid, Yoshikazu Sugimoto, Thomas Effertha. Phytomedicine.

6. Influence of sesame oil on blood glucose, lipid peroxidation, and antioxidant status in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. Ramesh B1, Saravanan R, Pugalendi KV. NCBI. 7. USDA National Nutrient Database 8. Comedogenic Ratings – Beneficial Botanicals.


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