Sesame is an oil crop which is widely grown in India and China. Sesame is a common ingredient in almost all cuisines around the world. With a rich nutty flavor, it has gained an important place on kitchen shelves.
Sesame is an annual plant. This erect plant grows to a height of 40 to 90 cms. The leaves vary in size and shape. The flowers are bell shaped and vary in color (white, pale yellow, purple). The fruit of this plant is a capsule and contain small seeds. Upon ripening the fruit naturally splits and releases the seeds. The seeds have highest oil content than any other oil seeds.
The texts of ayurveda have described medicinal properties of sesame. It is known as tila in Sanskrit, til in hindi. Ayurveda acharyas describe three varieties of sesame based on colour of seeds. They are Raktha(red), Krishna(black) and shweta(white). Usually Krishna tila or black sesame seeds are considered to have excellent medicinal properties and are recommended in ayurvedic treatments and ayurvedic preparations.
Sesame seeds contain approximately 50% oil and 25% protein. The oil of theses seeds contains about 47% oleic and 39% linoleic acid. Foods prepared with sesame oil have long shelf life, because the oil contains an antioxidant called sesamol. The residual sesame meal left after the oil pressing is rich in protein and used as an excellent protein supplement for live stock. Soaps prepared from this oil help to maintain skin health.
According to principles of ayurveda sesame is heavy to digest and increases moistness of tissues. It tastes sweet and has hot potency (ushna). The seeds and oil are used for medicinal purposes.
Ayurveda medicinal properties of sesame:
1. Sesame normalizes vata and vitiates pitta and kapha. It has properties of Yogavahi . Yogavahi is a substance which has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissues. When sesame is processed with other herbs it normalizes all the three doshas. Hence this is used in diseases arising due to vitiation of vata. And it can also be used in diseases caused due to vitiation of tridoshas.
2. The sesame oil can be used in dry skin conditions. It increases the moistness of skin and help to make it soft and smooth. The oil has excellent wound healing properties. The hair growth increases when scalp is massaged regularly with this oil. It prevents hair loss, formation of dandruff, splitting of hair etc. It is used for massaging patients who suffer from paralysis, body pain and pain in joints.
3. Sesame acts as a brain tonic.
4. Chewing these oil seeds help to reduce tooth ache. It also increases appetite. Sesame can be effectively used in indigestion and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
5. It is very helpful in conditions like diabetes and reduces frequency of urination.
6. When sesame seeds are administered with butter, it reduces pain and bleeding in hemorrhoids.
7. These oil seeds are useful in uterine conditions like dysmenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. They act as galactogague and increase the milk secretion in lactating mothers. The sesame seeds act as aphrodisiac and help in erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.