Sesame is one of the most widely used Ayurvedic medicines. If sesame seeds were not there, I would say, 40 % of Ayurvedic formulas would have been non-existent. Sesame is used in multiple dosage forms – powder, paste, oil, in the form of sesame recipes. The wonder herb is used in multiple ways through different routes of administration. Externally, internally, orally, over the eyes, nasally, rectally etc. It is high time that we explore the sesame benefits.
Botanical name: Sesamum indicum Linn. Ayurvedic Name: Tila.
Difference between black and white sesame seeds:
There is no much difference between the two. The white variety is hulled black sesame seed. Black contains more calcium content that the white.
Sesame synonyms: benne seed, til, sim sim, abongra, Hu ma, Zhi ma, Sesamzaad, Cham kkae,Sesamo, Shiro goma, Semilla de ajonjolí, Sesam, Sésamo, Sezam indyjski. Graines de sesame, Sésame blanc.
Indian Synonyms of sesame: Tila, Til, Ellu, Tara, Gumbulu etc.
Used parts:Sesame Seed, oil and whole plant. The whole plant is used in the preparation of special Ayurvedic medicine called Tila Kshara.
Sesame oil composition: Sesame is rich in Vitamin E. Hence acts as a natural anti oxidant. It also contains Vitamin K. Sesame contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6.
Master Charaka – Of all the varieties of oil, sesame oil is best for improving strength and imparting oiliness to the body. (Charaka sutrasthana 13th chapter).
Master Sushruta enlists Ayurvedic properties of Sesame with the following terms. All these terms can be attributed to sesame seed benefits or benefits of sesame oil. –
Dantya – Good for teeth. Hence sesame is used in three ways for good teeth.
- Advised for chewing.
- Its paste is kept at the place of tooth ache.
- sesame oil is used for oil pulling.
In conditions like tingling of the teeth, weak teeth, and disease of the mouth caused by Vata imbalance, water mixed with sesame seed paste is held in the mouth for 3 – 5 minutes. It is called as Gandusha treatment. (Reference)
Pathya – One of the things to be taken regularly. Hence sesame oil is one of the widely used oil for cooking in the Indian household.
Agni janana – Improves digestive power.
Medha janana – Improves intelligence.
Vranashodhana – Cleanses wounds.
- Sesame is made into the form of paste is traditionally applied over wounds for quick wound healing.
- Sesame oil is used for oil pulling to heal mouth ulcers.
- Sesame oil is processed with many herbs having wound healing property to prepare wound healing oils.
Twachya, Balya, Keshya – Improves the quality of skin and hair. Improves overall strength. If you ever wish to do a massage with some oil, please consider sesame oil. Sesame oil is used as the base for most of the herbal oils.
Sesame calms Vata and Kapha, slightly increases Pitta.
Sesame oil is an excellent laxative.
Sesame oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and skin softener.
Sesame oil is a safe oil for massage of babies and children. It helps to strengthen the bones, muscles and joints.
Sesame oil is used for massage, Shirodhara, etc procedures which help to calm the mind and induce deep relaxation and helps to have natural sleep and relieves headache.
various uses of sesame –
- Sesame oil is used in Ayurveda for food preparation, massage, oil pulling.
- Sesame oil is used as a base to prepare many medicated oils which are used in panchakarma procedures like Basti.
- Sesame paste is used for internal administration and also for application over wound.
- Oil prepared with Sesame oil base is used for nasal installation, as ear drops etc.
- Sesame seeds are used in various food recipes.
Ayurvedic medicines with Sesame oil as ingredient:
90 % of the herbal oils of Ayurveda are prepared with Sesame oil base.
Sesame oil is also used as ingredient in many herbal jams like Kalyanagulam
Benefits of sesame oil head massage:
One who applies sesame oil on his head regularly does not suffer from headache, baldness, graying of hair, nor do this hair fall. Strength of his head forehead is specially enhanced; his hair become black, long and deep-rooted; his sense organs work properly; the skin of his face becomes brightened; applying sesame oil on the head produces sound sleep and happiness. (reference)
Related: Why sesame oil is better than coconut oil for your hair?
Sesame oil qualities:
Rasa – taste – Madhura – sweet, Tikta – Bitter
Anurasa – kashaya – Astringent sub-taste.
Guna – qualities:
Sukshma – minute, enters minute body channels
Ushna – hot
Vyavayi – gets absorbed and enters body channels very quickly.
Teekshna – strong, piercing,
Vishada – clear, clarity
Guru – heaviness
Sara – eases bowel movement s
Vikasi – loosens joints
Lekhana – scraping.
Vipaka – Madhura – Undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Vata and Kapha Dosha, Slightly increases Pitta Dosha
Balakara – improves strength and immunity
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Shrothovishodhan – clears and cleanses body channels
Tvachya – good for skin
Vrushya – aphrodisiac, improves vigor
Vayasthapana – anti aging, rejuvenating
Medhakara – Improves intelligence
Smrithikara – improves memory
It is sweet with accompanying astringent taste, suitable(can penetrate through the suitable channels of the body), hot in potency and Vyavayi (which undergoes Paka or chemical change after it is pervaded all over the body). It aggravates Pitta, binds bowel and reduces the quantity of urine but it does not aggravate kapha. It is the best among the balances Vata. It promotes strength, skin health,, intelligence and power of digestion. In combination with various drugs (Samyoga), seasamum oil is said to cure all diseases. In the ancient time, kings of demons, by virtue of the use of oil overcame aging, got rid of diseases as well as fatigue-less, acquired great strength instantaneously and fought battles( successfully). – Charaka Sutrasthana 27
A simple tip: If you use sesame oil for massage, better to follow it up with hot water bath. It helps to calm Vata, and also to get rid of oil from skin. The gap between the massage and bath can be half an hour to many hours. Longer the gap, better the effect.
Question: Can application of plain Sesame oil in knees and legs at night before going to sleep lead to developing pains? I have a vatha body. And I have developed such pain. Only thing I am doing differently these days is applying plain sesame oil in eye lids, sole of foot and lil on knees and legs like moisturiser. What am I doing wrong here? Thank you for your time. looking forward to hearing from you.
There are two probabilities:
1. The sesame oil that you are using might have moisture in it, causing the pain. To rule out this possibility, I suggest you to heat the oil for 2 – 3 minutes in mild fire before application.
2. If there is hidden stiffness in your joints, then applying oil can cause increased stiffness and pain. To rule this out, Take a teaspoon of black pepper, add it to 200 ml of sesame oil and heat it for 4 – 5 minutes, filter it and store in an air tight container. Or Use Maha Narayana oil for applying, in place of regular oil.
Sesame paste for amenorrhoea –
In women having delayed periods, a tablespoon of sesame seeds are soaked in water overnight. Next day morning, it is taken out of water, mixed with half a tablespoon of jaggery, mixed thoroughly to make it a paste and is administered to the patient.
The process is repeated for up to 5-7 days, before expected date for periods.
Sesame seed paste for hemorrhoids:
If there are no secretions from hemorrhoids, sesame oil is applied over the mass. Then, sesame seeds are taken in a cloth pack and local fomentation is given. This is done to relieve pain, swelling and the size of the mass. (Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana, 14th chapter)
Does hotness of sesame oil worsen graying of hairs?
Pitta is responsible for grey hairs. Pitta means hotness.
Most of the hair oils are based with sesame oil. Sesame oil is hot in nature.
So, does not sesame oil, being hot, increase pitta and worsen grey hairs?
Sesame oil qualities:
These two are listed as qualities of Sesame oil –
Twachya – Good for skin, hence used as base for so many Ayurvedic oils for skin diseases.
Keshya – improves quality of hair. Keshya word encompasses – promoting hair growth, reducing hair fall, and relieving grey hairs.
So, irrespective of hotness, sesame oil contains enough phyto-nutrients to promote hair qualities.
Hotness of sesame oil – Useful in better absorption:
Anything that is being applied on the skin surface, if it has to get absorbed well, it needs to have some hotness. This is because of two reasons.
1. Skin absorption is handled by a type of Pitta called Bhrajaka Pitta.
2. Skin absorption is also a type of digestion. Digestion only happens with hotness (Pitta).
In preparing hair oils, as we have seen before,
Sesame oil is added with water and a few herbs, boiled till the total water evaporates. This is done to get all the useful nutrients from the herbs into the oil.
The job of sesame oil is to transfer these herb nutrients into the scalp skin. So, it, being hot does that job very well.
So, if we add other spicy items to the oil, like pepper, ginger etc, then they will add to the hotness of the oil, leading to worsening of grey hairs.
But in most of the hair oils, used for treating grey hairs, like Neelibhringadi oil, Kayyunyadi oil etc, milk is added as an ingredient. This is because, milk acts as coolant, pacifies Pitta and relieves grey hairs.
For this same reason, amla is also added. Amla, being coolant, helps to balance Pitta.
So, bottom line is,
hotness of sesame oil is useful for better absorption of herb nutrients into the scalp skin.
The slight hotness is balanced out by the usage of ingredients like milk and amla, which would ensure that the overall hotness is not too much to cause Pitta increase.
Sesame oil for enema:
In case of Ascites with Vata Dosha predominance, Til Tel, processed with sour herbs is administered as enema (reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 13th chapter)
Sesame oil side effects:
Excess consumption of til oil causes Hikka – hiccups and Shwasa – respiratory disorders with difficulty in breathing. (Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 17th chapter).
Importance of (sesame) Oil in curing Vatika diseases
नास्ति तैलात् परं किञ्चिदौषधं मारुतापहम्|
व्यवाय्युष्ण गुरु स्नेहात् संस्काराद्वलवत्तरम्||१८१||
सिद्धं क्षिप्रतरं हन्ति सूक्ष्म मार्ग स्थितान् गदान्||१८२||
nāsti tailāt paraṃ kiñcidauṣadhaṃ mārutāpaham|
vyavāyyuṣṇa guru snehāt saṃskārādvalavattaram||181||
siddhaṃ kṣiprataraṃ hanti sūkṣma mārga sthitān gadān||182||- Charaka Chikitsa sthana 28.
There is no medication which excels oil in curing Vatika diseases because of its Vyavayi (which pervades the body before going through the Process of digestion), hot heavy and unctuous properties. When cooked or processed with other drugs, it becomes more powerful therapeutically.
Therefore, oil is cooked for 100 and 1000 times with the group of drugs which all alleviate Vayu. Such medicated oils cure diseases located in the minutest channels of the body quickly.