Uses of Sesame Oil
Sesame oil's popularity in Asia (particularly in South Indian state of Tamil Nadu) can be likened to olive oil's popularity in the mediterranean. Its main uses are
1. Cooking. Sesame oil carries a premium relative to other cooking oils and is considered more stable than most vegetable oils due to antioxidants in the oil. Sesame oil is least prone, among cooking oils, to turn rancid. This is because it has a very high boiling point. In effect, sesame oil retains its natural structure and doesn't break down even when heated to a very high temperature. Also it has a good reputation for being safe to the heart just like Olive oil and Sun Flower oil. Because of this, it is ideally suited for deep frying.
2. Body Massage. Sesame oil is reputed for its ability to penetrate the skin easily, nourishing and detoxifying even the deepest tissue layers. Sesame oil is immensely popular in India where its used in oil massage. It is ideal oil for people in the hot tropics to cool down. It is recommended to apply the oil on the parts of the body which generate most heat, like navel, head, eyebrows, foot tips etc. and let the body soak the oil for an hour or so and then bathe in warm water which will help to open the pores further. Caution oil massage should not be attempted when ill or suffering from cold. It may worsen the symptoms before giving relief, if any.
3. Hair Oil. Applying Sesame oil for the hair is believed to result in darker hair.
Research into the health effects of sesame oil is beginning to emerge.
High percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
"Sesame oil is unique in that, it has the highest concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids. At the same time, the oil contains two natural-occurring preservatives, sesamol and sesamin. As a result, sesame oil is the only oil which has a high percentage of polyunsaturates and also keeps at room temperature. (Olive oil also keeps at room temperature, but it is predominately composed of the omega-9 monounsaturated oil.)"
The presence of high levels of Polyunsaturated fatty acids might help in controlling blood pressure. It can be used in cooking in place of other edible oils and may help reduce high blood pressure and lower the amount of medication needed to control hypertension.
"The effect of the oil on blood pressure may be due to polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and the compound sesamin a lignan present in sesame oil. Both compounds have been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Sesame lignans also inhibit the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol in these rats."
Vitamins and Minerals Sesame oil is a good source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant which means it helps lower cholesterol. Sesame oil also contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and vitamin B6.
Oil Pulling Sesame oil is one of the few oils recommended for use in oil pulling. (sunflower oil is the other oil recommended).
Reducing Stress and Tension Various constituents present in the sesame oil have anti-oxidant and anti-depressant properties, which help to fight senile changes and bring about a sense of well being.
"People with high Stress and Tension can be prone to anxiety, nerve and bone disorders, poor circulation, lowered immunity and bowel problems such as wind, constipation and irritable bowel. They tend towards excess dryness both externally and internally. Used regularly, sesame oil is wonderful for reducing stress and tension, nourishing the nervous system and preventing nervous disorders, relieving fatigue and insomnia, and promoting strength and vitality. Those patients who use sesame oil daily have reported feeling stronger, more resilient to stress, with increased energy and better resistance to infection. Its rejuvenating properties certainly do revitalize those feeling tired and run down, while its warming effects enhance the circulation. Its relaxing properties ease pain and muscle spasm, such as sciatica, dysmenorrhoea, colic, backache and joint pain. The antioxidants explain its reputation for slowing the ageing process and increasing longevity, and certainly regular oiling of the skin restores moisture to the skin, keeping it soft, flexible and young looking. It also lubricates the body internally, particularly the joints and bowels, and eases symptoms of dryness such as irritating coughs, cracking joints and hard stools."
Other uses include as a laxative, as a remedy for toothaches and gum disease and in the treatment of blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches.
Other Research findings support Sesame oil's use in the treatment of dry nose, reduction of cholestrol levels (due to presence of Lignans which are phytoestrogens), anti-bacterial effects, and even slowing down certain types of cancer. (again because of the anti-oxidant properties of the Lignans)