The Benefits of Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is one of history’s most widely and commonly used products for overall health and wellness. From India to the Mediterranean, many cultures known for their longevity have held sesame oil in high esteem, and the nutrient-rich sesame seed itself (Sesamum indicum) is a symbol of prosperity and health in ancient folklore.
In this Article:
- Benefits of Sesame Oil
- Sesame Oil Traditional Uses
- How to Oil Pull with Sesame Oil
- How to Use Sesame Oil for Self-Massage
- Safety and Contraindications
- Making Sesame Oil
Sesame oil has been used to support numerous health systems in the body, including the nervous system, bones and muscles, skin and hair, the digestive tract (including the colon), and the reproductive system.1
Sesame Oil for Ayurvedic Self-Massage
Nourishing, calming, and warming, sesame oil is one of Ayurveda’s most popular oils for self-massage. According to Ayurveda, the sesame seed is sweet, pungent, astringent, and bitter, with a heating effect.2 It grows in a dry climate, and in turn, is beneficial when the dry quality is in excess.3
Its warm, oily qualities can be especially balancing for vata dosha, which can often experience excess dryness when out of balance. The heating nature of sesame can also be good for kapha, though you must be careful in cases of excess kapha as it is also heavy and building.
Some of the benefits of using sesame oil for this practice include:
- Bolstering the body’s ability to handle stress
- Promoting physical strength
- Nourishing the muscles and bones
- Supporting comfortable joint movement
- Promoting sound sleep patterns
- Supporting the intellect and nervous system
- Nourishing skin and hair
In addition to massage, traditional Ayurvedic uses of sesame oil include the following:
- Internal Lubrication. Sesame oil that is intended for internal consumption has been used to lubricate and support the bowel and soften the stool.4
- Countering Vaginal Dryness. Some have used sesame oil as a vaginal douche to help maintain healthy vaginal balance.5
- Localized Massage to Reduce Vata. Warm massage on the abdomen can help reduce imbalanced vata in the abdomen.
- Oiling the Ears. Applying warm sesame oil in the ear supports ear health.
- Promoting Healthy Sleep. To promote healthy sleep patterns, massage the scalp and soles of the feet with sesame oil before bedtime.
- Oil Pulling. When swished in the mouth, sesame oil can support strong teeth and gums.6 It has also been shown in a study to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.7
- Place 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth.
- Swish and pull the oil around your whole mouth—including both sides of the mouth and all of the areas surrounding your teeth.
- Continue for 15–20 minutes, or until the oil has become thin and whitish in color. (If you’re new to oil pulling, start out by swishing for 5 minutes and eventually working your way up to the suggested timeframe.)
- Spit the oil in the trash or toilet to avoid clogging your drain. Do not swallow the oil.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
For more Ayurvedic tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, please visit our guide on Ayurvedic oral hygiene.
To use sesame oil as a part of your self-massage routine, follow these instructions:
- Warm the Oil. Transfer the sesame oil into a squeeze bottle, then place the bottle into a pot of warm water until it has reached the desired warmth. Test the oil before using it to make sure it is not too hot.
- Prepare to Get Oily. Undress and stay in a warm room, using a towel that you don’t mind getting oily.
- Massage Scalp, Face, and Ears. Pour small amounts of oil in your palm and start massaging your scalp and face with circular strokes. Be sure to massage the ears and place some warm oil in each.
- Massage the Limbs. Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes on the joints, and don’t forget to give attention to the small joints. Start at the extremities and move towards the center of the body.
- Massage the Rest of Your Body. Massage your torso and all other areas of your body, using long strokes on the long areas like your back and sides. Use circular strokes on the chest and abdomen. Massaging the armpits and breast tissue is a great way to support healthy breasts.
- Bathe and Rinse Off the Oil. After you have completed your self-nurturing massage, enjoy a warm shower or bath, taking care not to slip.
Sesame seeds and oil should be avoided if there is excess heat in the body, high ama (natural toxins), or congestion.
Each sesame seed is protected by an outer shell that naturally opens when the seed ripens (giving rise to the phrase “Open Sesame.”)8 At this time, the seeds are ready to be pressed into light golden sesame oil.
Both oils are certified organic and are free of chemical herbicides and pesticides. They are also expeller pressed. This natural process uses pressure to extract the oil from the seeds without the use of external heat or chemicals.
Buying Sesame-Based Oils
While sesame oil can be purchased and used as an individual product, its ability to easily enter the skin and carry its nourishing and soothing properties deeply into the tissues makes it an ideal base oil for a variety of herbal oils, including the following.
- Mahanarayan Oil
- Ashwagandha Bala Oil
- Neem Oil
- Bhringaraj Oil
- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Massage Oils
- Nasya Oil
- Daily Massage Oil
- Sleep Easy Oil