The healing power of sesame seeds

It is estimated that the sesame plant was first cultivated only 5,000 years ago. Sesame plant is a plant that can withstand drought well; it continues to grow in hot conditions while other plants have already died. The sesame plant has an extensive root system that allows it to search for water better than its competitors. It grows to a height of 50 centimeters to one meter. The flowers on this plant turn blue, purple or white. Most wild sesame varieties are originally found in the steppe region south of the Sahara. Alfred Vogel already saw that sesame seeds are good for the liver. In phytotherapy it is mainly used for heart problems. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of sesame plant / Source: Köhler, FE (Franz Eugen), Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Sesame oil for cardiovascular disease
  • Sesame oil is good for anemia
  • Sesame oil as massage oil
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

In ancient Egypt, sesame seeds were called sesemt and were assigned a role among medicinal plants. It is in the papyrus scroll of Ebers in which many Egyptian medicinal plants are described. In the past, a lot of honey was eaten with sesame seeds. In Babylon it was said that this would keep you beautiful longer. Roman soldiers ate honey with sesame because they said it made them stronger. Sesame seed is currently a medicine in phytotherapy; it is mainly used for cardiovascular diseases.

In the regular cosmetics industry, sesame oil is used, among other things, for the manufacture of: lubricants, sunscreens, shampoos, soaps and brillantine.

Naming

In Latin, sesame seeds are called Sesamum orientale . A Latin synonym is Sesamum indicum . The Dutch word Sesam comes from the Arabic word simsim, which in turn comes from the Aramaic word shumshema. That Aramaic word again came from Babylonian where sesame was called shawash-shammu. The Babylonian word is a corruption of the Assyrian word shamash shammu, which is a distortion of the pronunciation of the word for oil ‘shaman shammi’. Orientale means ‘Oriental’. The plant was first cultivated in the Middle East. It is possible that the sesame plant grew there naturally, but it is more likely that it originally only grew south of the Sahara.

Active substances

Sesame seeds are used from the sesame plant for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following important active ingredients: 35 to 50% fatty oil, mainly containing an omega 9 fatty acid, namely: oleic acid. This is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid. It also contains an important omega-6 fatty acid: linoleic acid. This is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Sesame seeds also contain palmitic acid, sesamin, sesamolin, sesamol, squalene, vitamins A, E, B11 and B3, choline, the minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, proteins including the amino acids tryptophan, histidine and methionine, carbohydrates, phospholipids and lipase.

Sesame oil for cardiovascular disease

The monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid from sesame seeds is a natural blood thinner because it inhibits platelet aggregation. It also helps to prevent cholesterol from oxidizing as quickly on the walls of the blood vessels. For optimal medicinal effect, sesame oil should be used cold. However, it is possible to heat sesame oil once; it contains enough antioxidants that protect polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Sesame oil is good for anemia

Sesame oil is known to increase the number of red blood cells. Furthermore, it increases the number of platelets. It is also a mild laxative and has a soothing effect on the mucous membranes. There are no specific medicinal indications for the latter activities, but it simply indicates that sesame seeds are good for more parts of the body. With regard to blood disorders, sesame seeds are mainly used in phytotherapy for:

  • Anemia
  • Thrombopenia, lack of platelets.

Sesame oil as massage oil

Sesame oil is used externally as a massage oil. It is then used in a mix where 20% of the massage oil consists of sesame oil. It can be used in a head massage; Mixed with olive oil, sesame oil helps with dandruff. It is very good and relaxing to occasionally massage the scalp with oil. It is even better to have this massage done by a partner. By the way, it doesn’t hurt to add a few drops of lemon balm essential oil to this head massage mixture, because lemon balm also helps with dandruff. In an oil mixture, sesame oil is recommended by herbalists for the following indications:

Flower of the Sesamum indicum or Sesamum orientale / Source: JM Garg, Wikimedia Commons (GFDL)

  • Rheumatic complaints,
  • Fragile blood vessels,
  • Eczema,
  • Psoriasis,
  • Rose.

Sesame seeds are a rich source of calcium and iron. Folic acid and niacin, or vitamins B11 and B3 respectively, are also contained in large quantities. Methionine is an essential amino acid that is rarely found in other nuts and seeds.

Dose and safety

Sesame seeds are a completely safe product with many healthy uses and no side effects. There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant.

  • The simplest way is to put tahini, ground sesame paste on the sandwich. This is very tasty in combination with alfalfa.
  • You can take sesame oil with a tablespoon; a tablespoon per day is sufficient. You can also put it on a salad.
  • You can incorporate sesame seeds into meals; you can add it to cooked rice, use it in a homemade nut burger or sprinkle it over a salad.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.