Essential Facts about Black Sesame Seeds
- Botanical: Semen Sesami
- Sanskrit: Tila
- Hindi: Til, Kali til (black sesame seeds) Sphed til (white sesame seeds)
- English: Sesame
- Rasa (taste): Sweet and bitter with an astringent sub-taste
- Guna (qualities): Hot, Strong, Piercing
- Virya (action/potency): Hot
- Vipaka (post-digestive, metabolic effect): Sweet
- Effect on doshas: Balances vata and kapha (vata especially can benefit from the use of oils). Cold-pressed black sesame seed oil can aggravate pitta.
Sesame prefers to grow in loamy soils that have been well-drained. It has been naturalized in many tropical regions throughout the world. It grows native to Africa and parts of India.
Although sesame seeds can appear white or black, it’s important to note that there’s not much difference between them. The white variety is simply the hulled version of the black sesame seed. Because the black sesame seeds retain their hulls, they have more calcium.
Furthermore, ‘black sesame seed oil’ can sometimes refer to simply roasted sesame seed oil – not necessarily oil made from black, unhulled sesame seeds.
All parts of the sesame plant are used in Ayurveda. In fact, the medicine known as Tila Kshara uses the whole plant in its entirety.
When making sesame seed oil, the seeds are pressed to extract the oil. Cold-pressed black sesame seed oil is higher quality and healthier than expeller-pressed because the oil retains its flavor, aroma, and nutritional value.
Lots of important nutrients have been identified in the sesame seed. The oil is particularly rich in vitamin E, which is fat soluble, as well as vitamin K. Sesame seeds contain magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, and zinc – though many of these are not fat-soluble and thus won’t be in the oil.
Medicinal Uses of Cold-Pressed Black Sesame Seed Oil
Sesame seeds and sesame oil are some of the most versatile and widely-used substances in Ayurveda. In fact, a large portion of Ayurvedic formulae and recipes rely on sesame oil as a carrier (e.g. Chyawanprash).
There are a number of medicinal uses of sesame seed oil, including:
- Helping to accelerate the healing of wounds
- Stimulating agni and enhancing a person’s digestive health
- Enhancing cognitive health
- Improving health of the skin
Application and Dosage of Cold-Pressed Black Sesame Seed Oil
There are so many ways to use sesame seed oil that it would be impossible to list them all here.
Sesame seed can be used in cooking, for massaging, and for oil pulling. It can be used as a base for herbal remedies, or as a herbal carrier (e.g. Chyawanprash). It can also be utilized nasally, rectally, or in the eyes.
Ultimately, the dosage and application of sesame oil greatly depend on what you’re using it for.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)