Sesame and Sesame Oil Benefits – Total Ayurveda Details

Sesame is one of the most widely used Ayurvedic medicines. If sesame seeds were not there, I would say, 40 % of Ayurvedic formulas would have been non-existent. Sesame is used in multiple dosage forms – powder, paste, oil, in the form of sesame recipes. The wonder herb is used in multiple ways through different routes of administration. Externally, internally, orally, over the eyes, nasally, rectally etc. It is high time that we explore the sesame benefits. 

Sesame seeds

Sesame facts:
Botanical name: Sesamum indicum Linn.
Ayurvedic Name: Tila.

Difference between black and white sesame seeds:
There is no much difference between the two. The white variety is hulled black sesame seed. Black contains more calcium content that the white.
As per Bhavaprakasha –
कृष्णः श्रेष्ठतमस्तेषु शुक्रलो मध्यमः सितः |
अन्ये हीनतरः प्रोक्तास्तज्ज्ञै रक्तादयस्तिलाः ||५५||
The black sesame seeds are the best. White is of medium quality and the rest of the sesame seeds including red are of inferior quality.

Synonyms

Sesame synonyms: benne seed, til, sim sim, abongra, Hu ma, Zhi ma, Sesamzaad, Cham kkae,Sesamo, Shiro goma,  Semilla de ajonjolí, Sesam, Sésamo, Sezam indyjski. Graines de sesame, Sésame blanc.

Indian Synonyms of sesame: Tila, Til, Ellu, Tara, Gumbulu etc.

Parts used

Used parts: Sesame Seed, oil and whole plant. The whole plant is used in the preparation of special Ayurvedic medicine called Tila Kshara.

Sesame oil composition

Sesame is rich in Vitamin E. Hence acts as a natural anti oxidant. It also contains Vitamin K. Sesame contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6.

Can sesame oil be used for oral consumption or cooking? 
Yes. Sesame oil is the default oil to be used for all practical purposes. 

तैलेऽनुक्ते तिलोद्भवम् ।
taile’nukte tilodbhavam |
Sharangdhara Samhita – Prathama Khanda – 1st section 1 st chapter.

In a formula, if the type of oil is not specified but just Taila (oil) is mentioned, then sesame oil is considered by default.

  1. In the 27th Chapter, Ashtanga Hrudaya – Sutrasthana – 5th chapter – both these chapters explain about Annapana – foods and drinks. Where, honey, milk, grains, grams, nuts etc are explained.

Both Master Charaka and Master Vagbhata explain oil section and they both explain sesame oil first.
The commentators of both explain that of all the oils, sesame oil is  the best.

तत्र तैलेषु मध्ये मुख्यं तिलोद्भवम् । – सर्वांग सुन्दरी टीका

tatra taileṣu madhye mukhyaṃ tilodbhavam | – sarvāṃga sundarī ṭīkā on Ashtanga Hrudaya 5th chapter – Annapana chapter (food and drinks)
Of the oil, sesame oil is the best.

With regards to Sesame oil being achakshushya and not good for skin – it is attributed to the hotness of the sesame oil and in people especially with eye and skin problems, it is not indicated for daily consumption.

Narayana taila

Bhaishajya Ratnavali book – Vata disorder section – Verse number 140-150
Narayana taila is explained, prepared with sesame oil base.
पाने वस्तौ तथाऽभ्यङ्गे भोज्ये चैव प्रशस्यते ।
 pāne vastau tathā’bhyaṅge bhojye caiva praśasyate |

Narayana taila is useful if
1. Pane – consumed orally
2. Vastau – when used in Basti treatment
3. Abhyanga – when used for massage
4. Bhojye – when used as part of Bhojana – food.

With all these explanations, it can be very well concluded that sesame oil is the best oil for oral intake or cooking. 

Sesame seed benefits:

Master Charaka – Of all the varieties of oil, sesame oil is best for improving strength and imparting oiliness to the body. (Charaka sutrasthana 13th chapter).
Master Sushruta enlists Ayurvedic properties of Sesame with the following terms. All these terms can be attributed to sesame seed benefits or benefits of sesame oil.  

Dantya – Good for teeth. Hence sesame is used in three ways for good teeth.

  • Advised for chewing.
  • Its paste is kept at the place of tooth ache.
  • Sesame oil is used for oil pulling.

In conditions like tingling of the teeth, weak teeth, and disease of the mouth caused by Vata imbalance, water mixed with sesame seed paste is held in the mouth for 3 – 5 minutes. It is called as Gandusha treatment. (Reference)

Pathya – One of the things to be taken regularly.
Hence sesame oil is one of the widely used oil for cooking in the Indian household.

Agni janana – Improves digestive power.
Medha janana – Improves intelligence.
Vranashodhana – Cleanses wounds.

  • Sesame made into the form of paste is traditionally applied over wounds for quick wound healing.
  • Sesame oil is used for oil pulling to heal mouth ulcers.
  • Sesame oil is processed with many herbs having wound healing property to prepare wound healing oils.

Twachya, Balya, Keshya – Improves the quality of skin and hair. Improves overall strength. If you ever wish to do a massage with some oil, please consider sesame oil. Sesame oil is used as the base for most of the herbal oils.
Sesame calms Vata  and Kapha, slightly increases Pitta.
Sesame oil is an excellent laxative.
Sesame oil is an excellent skin moisturizer and skin softener.

Sesame oil is a safe oil for massage of babies and children.  It helps to strengthen the bones, muscles and joints.
Sesame oil is used for massage, Shirodhara, etc procedures which help to calm the mind and induce deep relaxation and helps to have natural sleep and relieves headache.
Sesame oil imparts beauty to hair, is sweet, bitter and astringent in taste, hot in potency, imparts strength, helps in treating vitiated kapha and vata doshas, worm infestation, pruritus, itching and imparts good complexion to the skin.

Properties of sesame seed as per Bhojana Kutuhalam

As per Bhojana Kutuhala fifth chapter, Sesame is hot in nature and becomes pungent post metabolism, slightly cold to touch, promotes hair growth, strengthening and heavy in nature.It reduces urine production and treats urinary disorders, It causes prameha, stimulates digestive fire and aggravates kapha and pitta.

White variety sesame is sweet, astringent and pungent in taste, it is cordial and treats edema and wounds. white sesame aggravates kapha and pitta, it increases strength, enhances complexion and is heavy to digest.

Black variety sesame treats prameha, hemorrhoids and edema and imparts strength to the teeth.

The oil derived from sesame seed is sweet, bitter and astringent in taste, hot in potency, is very sharp in its action, nourishes the hair, is strengthening in nature, treats disorders caused due to vitiated kapha and vata dosha, relieves intestinal worms, pruritus, wounds etc and also helps in improving the skin complexion.

Various uses of sesame

  • Sesame oil is used in Ayurveda for food preparation, massage, oil pulling.
  • Sesame oil is used as a base to prepare many medicated oils which are used in panchakarma procedures like Basti.
  • Sesame paste is used for internal administration and also for application over wounds.
  • Oil prepared with Sesame oil base is used for nasal installation, as ear drops etc.
  • Sesame seeds are used in various food recipes.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Sesame oil as ingredient
90 % of the herbal oils of Ayurveda are prepared with Sesame oil base.
Sesame oil is also used as an ingredient in many herbal jams like Kalyanagulam

Sesame Oil - Til tail

Sesame oil for head massage

Benefits of sesame oil head massage:
One who applies sesame oil on his head regularly does not suffer from headache, baldness, graying of hair, nor does this hair fall. Strength of his head forehead is specially enhanced; his hair become black, long and deep-rooted; his sense organs work properly; the skin of his face becomes brightened; applying sesame oil on the head produces sound sleep and happiness. (reference)
Related: Why sesame oil is better than coconut oil for your hair?

Sesame oil qualities

Rasa – taste – Madhura – sweet, Tikta – Bitter
Anurasa – kashaya – Astringent sub-taste.
Guna – qualities:
Sukshma – minute, enters minute body channels
Ushna – hot
Vyavayi – gets absorbed and enters body channels very quickly.
Teekshna – strong, piercing,
Vishada – clear, clarity
Guru – heaviness
Sara – eases bowel movements
Vikasi – loosens joints
Lekhana – scraping.
Vipaka – Madhura – Undergoes sweet taste conversion after digestion
Veerya – Ushna – Hot potency
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Vata and Kapha Dosha, Slightly increases Pitta Dosha
Balakara – improves strength and immunity
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Shrothovishodhan – clears and cleanses body channels
Tvachya – good for skin
Vrushya – aphrodisiac, improves vigor
Vayasthapana – anti aging, rejuvenating
Medhakara – Improves intelligence
Smrithikara – improves memory

It is sweet with accompanying astringent taste, suitable (can penetrate through the suitable channels of the body), hot in potency and Vyavayi (which undergoes Paka or chemical change after it is pervaded all over the body). It aggravates Pitta, binds bowel and reduces the quantity of urine but it does not aggravate kapha. It is the best among the drugs that balances Vata. It promotes strength, skin health, intelligence and power of digestion. In combination with various drugs (Samyoga), seasamum oil is said to cure all diseases. In the ancient times, kings of demons, by virtue of the use of oil overcame aging, got rid of diseases as well as was fatigue-less, acquired great strength instantaneously and fought battles( successfully). – Charaka Sutrasthana 27

A simple tip: If you use sesame oil for massage, better to follow it up with hot water bath. It helps to calm Vata, and also to get rid of oil from skin. The gap between the massage and bath can be  half an hour to many hours. Longer the gap, better the effect.

Question: Can application of plain Sesame oil in knees and legs at night before going to sleep lead to developing pains? I have a vata body. And I have developed such pain. Only thing I am doing differently these days is applying plain sesame oil in eye lids, sole of foot and lil on knees and legs like moisturiser. What am I doing wrong here? Thank you for your time. looking forward to hearing from you.
Answer:
There are two probabilities:
1. The sesame oil that you are using might have moisture in it, causing the pain. To rule out this possibility, I suggest you to heat the oil for 2 – 3 minutes in mild fire before application.
2. If there is hidden stiffness in your joints, then applying oil can cause increased stiffness and pain. To rule this out, Take a teaspoon of black pepper, add it to 200 ml of sesame oil and heat it for 4 – 5 minutes, filter it and store in an air tight container. Or Use Maha Narayana oil for applying, in place of regular oil.

Sesame for amenorrhea

Sesame paste for amenorrhea –
In women having delayed periods, a tablespoon of sesame seeds are soaked in water overnight. Next day morning, it is taken out of water, mixed with half a tablespoon of jaggery, mixed thoroughly to make it a paste and is administered to the patient.
The process is repeated for up to 5-7 days, before the expected date for periods.

Sesame for haemorrhoids

Sesame seed paste for haemorrhoids:
If there are no secretions from hemorrhoids, sesame oil is applied over the mass. Then, sesame seeds are taken in a cloth pack and local fomentation is given. This is done to relieve pain, swelling and the size of the mass. (Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana, 14th chapter)

Does hotness of sesame oil worsen graying of hairs?
Pitta is responsible for grey hairs. Pitta means hotness.
Most of the hair oils are based with sesame oil. Sesame oil is hot in nature.
So, does not sesame oil, being hot, increase pitta and worsen grey hairs?

Sesame oil qualities:
These two are listed as qualities of Sesame oil –
Twachya – Good for skin, hence used as a base for so many Ayurvedic oils for skin diseases.
Keshya
– improves quality of hair. Keshya word encompasses – promoting hair growth, reducing hair fall, and relieving grey hairs.

So, irrespective of hotness, sesame oil contains enough phyto-nutrients to promote hair qualities.

Hotness of sesame oil

Hotness of sesame oil – Useful in better absorption:
Anything that is being applied on the skin surface, in order to get absorbed well, it needs to have some hotness. This is because of two reasons.
1. Skin absorption is handled by a type of Pitta called Bhrajaka Pitta.
2. Skin absorption is also a type of digestion. Digestion only happens with hotness (Pitta).

In preparing hair oils, as we have seen before,

Sesame oil is added with water and a few herbs, boiled till the entire water evaporates. This is done to get all the useful nutrients from the herbs into the oil.

The job of sesame oil is to transfer these herb nutrients into the scalp skin. So, it, being hot does that job very well.

So, if we add other spicy items to the oil, like pepper, ginger etc, then they will add to the hotness of the oil, leading to worsening of grey hairs.
But in most of the hair oils, used for treating grey hairs, like Neelibhringadi oil, Kayyunyadi oil etc, milk is added as an ingredient. This is because, milk acts as coolant, pacifies Pitta and relieves grey hairs.
For this same reason, amla is also added. Amla, being a coolant, helps to balance Pitta.

So, bottom line is,
Hotness of sesame oil is useful for better absorption of herb nutrients into the scalp skin.
The slight hotness is balanced out by the usage of ingredients like milk and amla, which would ensure that the overall hotness is not too much to cause Pitta increase.

Sesame oil for enema

In case of Ascites with Vata Dosha predominance, Til Tel, processed with sour herbs is administered as enema (reference: Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 13th chapter)

Side effects

Excess consumption of til oil causes Hikka – hiccups and Shwasa – respiratory disorders with difficulty in breathing. (Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 17th chapter).

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Sesame oil in Vataja disorders

Importance of (sesame) Oil in curing Vatika diseases
नास्ति तैलात् परं किञ्चिदौषधं मारुतापहम्|
व्यवाय्युष्ण गुरु स्नेहात् संस्काराद्वलवत्तरम्||१८१||
गणैर्वातहरैस्तस्माच्छतशोऽथ सहस्रशः|
सिद्धं क्षिप्रतरं हन्ति सूक्ष्म मार्ग स्थितान् गदान्||१८२||
nāsti tailāt paraṃ kiñcidauṣadhaṃ mārutāpaham|
vyavāyyuṣṇa guru snehāt saṃskārādvalavattaram||181||
gaṇairvātaharaistasmācchataśo’tha sahasraśaḥ|
siddhaṃ kṣiprataraṃ hanti sūkṣma mārga sthitān gadān||182||- Charaka Chikitsa sthana 28.

There is no medication which excels oil in curing Vatika diseases because of its Vyavayi (which pervades the body before going through the process of digestion), hot heavy and unctuous properties. When cooked or processed with other drugs, it becomes more powerful therapeutically.
Therefore, oil is cooked for 100 and 1000 times with the group of drugs which all alleviate Vayu. Such medicated oils cure diseases located in the minutest channels of the body quickly.

For plants to flower in all seasons:
Mixture of Sesame oil cakes, Vidanga (Embelia ribes), sugar cane juice and cow dung is sprinkled to the root of a plant. This practice enables flowering of the plant in all the seasons. (Reference: Vriksha Ayurveda)

Sesame oil for Vata Dosha:
Continuous use of sesame oil alleviates Vata, as oil is unctuous, hot and heavy, vata being dry, cold and light is of the opposite nature. When there is the interaction between substances having mutually opposite qualities, the stronger dominates over the weaker; therefore continuous use of oil alleviates Vata, both externally and internally. (Charaka Samhita, Vimana Sthana 1/14)

Does body massage with sesame oil cause body hair growth / skin darkening? 
Sesame oil massage neither promote body hair growth, nor it would make the complexion dark.
Rather, sesame oil will help in improving blood circulation to the skin and tissues, and help remove dead skin cells and improve skin quality and texture.

Sesame leaves benefits

Sesame leaves are used to treat diarrhea, dysentery and cholera.

For oil massage, can we use sesame oil alone or it should be processed in any herbs? 
For oil massage, just the sesame oil can be used. 

Can we mix sesame seed with castor oil and apply on hair?
Yes. It can be a good combination. Keep in mind that castor oils may make the hair smelly if you do not wash the hair thoroughly. 

Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, dried

तिलः कषायो मधुरस्तिक्तकः कटुको रसः |
विपाके कटुकः स्वादुः सुस्निग्धो बलकृत्गुरुः ||८१||
केश्यो व्रणहितस्त्वच्यो हिमस्पर्शोऽनिलापहः |
दन्त्योऽल्पमूत्रो मेधाग्निकफपित्तविवर्धनः ||८२|| (kayyadeva nighantu dhayavarga)
Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – unctuous, heavy
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent,
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing

Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, roasted and toasted

Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – not very unctuous, not very heavy (as roasting decreases heaviness)
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing (as roasting reduces heaviness)

Seeds, sesame seed kernels, toasted, without salt added (decorticated)
Decorticated means with seed coat removed.

Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – not very unctuous, not very heavy (as roasting decreases heaviness)
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing (as toasting and decortications reduces heaviness)

Seeds, sesame seed kernels, toasted, with salt added (decorticated)

Rasa – sweet, slightly salty
Guna – not very heavy (roasting makes it lighter)
Veerya – not very cold (salt is hot in potency)
Vipaka – sweet
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing (gives relief from constipation)
Pitta increasing (Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt added is Pitta nourishing, salt further increases Pitta)
Kapha nourishing (due to reduced heaviness)

Seeds, sesame seed kernels, dried (decorticated)

Rasa – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Guna – unctuous, heavy
Veerya – cold
Vipaka – pungent,
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing

Seeds, sesame flour, partially defatted

Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – unctuous, heavy
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing

Seeds, sesame flour, low-fat

Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – not very unctuous, heavy
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent,
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing (low fat)

Seeds, sesame meal, partially defatted

Taste – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Properties – dry, not very heavy
Potency – cold
After digestion taste transformation ( Vipaka ) – pungent,
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha neutral (sesame meal is dry and has reduced heaviness)

Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from roasted and toasted kernels (most common type)

Tahini is made from sesame seeds that are soaked in water and then crushed to separate the bran from the kernels. The crushed seeds are soaked in salt water, causing the bran to sink. The floating kernels are skimmed off the surface, toasted, and ground to produce an oily paste.
Sesame seeds roasted and toasted Effect on Doshas – Vata balancing, Pitta increasing, Kapha nourishing
Soaking in water makes it more kaphakara due to increased coldness.
Soaking in salt water makes it more Pitta increasing and hot in potency.
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing

Seeds, sesame butter, paste

Sesame seed is toasted and then ground in a mixer with oil to make a paste.
Sesame seeds roasted and toasted Effect on Doshas – Vata balancing, Pitta increasing, Kapha nourishing
Oil – Vata balancing
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing

Seeds, sesame flour, high-fat

Rasa – astringent, sweet, bitter, pungent
Guna – unctuous, heavy
Veerya – cold
Vipaka – pungent,
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing (high fat)

Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from unroasted kernels

(non-chemically removed seed coat)
Unroasted sesame seed -Vata balancing, Pitta increasing, Kapha increasing
Soaking in water makes it more Kaphakara due to increased coldness.
Soaking in salt water makes it more Pitta increasing and hot in potency.
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing

Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from raw and stone ground kernels

Sesame seeds raw effect on Doshas – Vata balancing, Pitta increasing, Kapha increasing
Soaking in water makes it more kaphakara due to increased coldness.
Soaking in salt water makes it more Pitta increasing and hot in potency.
Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha increasing.

Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, type of kernels unspecified

Effect on Doshas
Vata balancing
Pitta increasing
Kapha nourishing

28 thoughts on “Sesame and Sesame Oil Benefits – Total Ayurveda Details”

  1. Hi Praveen,
    Sesame seed is helpful in Balancing Vata.
    Sesame oil is useful in balancing both Kapha and Vata.

    Reply
  2. most important, sesame supports ashti dhatu (bone) and hairs, like nails and teeth are a by product of bone ashti dhatu.

    Reply
  3. Dear Dr Hebbar,

    As per your article sesame oil is mentioned as “Pathya “. Can you please provide reference for same as I have not seen any mention of sesame oil as something that can can be consumed daily.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi, pathya is told in the context of sesame (seed) – reference is from Sushruta Sutrasthana 46/39

      Reply
  4. Dear Dr Hebbar,

    You have mentioned that Sesame oil can be used for cooking. But why is that there are no Ayurvedic tila oil based medicines advised for internal consumption?

    Even for vata disorders doctors usually advised medicated ghee but not sesame oil.

    Please advise.

    Reply
    • There are many tila taila based oral medicines such as
      Dhanwantaram oil 101,
      Ksheerabala 101 capsule and oil.
      Maharaja Prasarini taila
      Mahanarayana taila is also indicated for oral intake.

      Reply
    • As per Ayurveda text book, Black sesame seeds are better than white ones. With that logic, black sesame oil is better.

      Reply
  5. Is it necessary to heat sesame oil or heat sesame oil with pepper for massage? I am using it directly for massage over head, back and joints. Is it cause any problem if I will use it directly.

    Reply
  6. Sesame oil is the most commendable of all oils as per sushruta samhita. Refer page 448 of english translation of sushruta samhita volume 1: Sutrasthana Chapter XLV – Knowledge of liquid substances: https://archive.org/stream/englishtranslati01susruoft#page/448/mode/2up
    Also refer USDA nutrition database( https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list) and check nutrition information against castor/mustard seeds/oilve fruits. If you find anything better than sesame seeds, write in the reply.

    Reply
  7. Actually “tila” is mentioned as a cause for skin disorders in charaka samhitas chikita for kushta. How come they are supposed to be good for skin?

    Reply
    • Excess of sesame can cause increased hotness, leading to increase of Pitta and skin diseases.
      When skin diseases are associated with Kapha dosha, with itching and oozing liquids as main symptoms, sesame seeds are useful.

      Reply
  8. Hari sharnam
    Greetings to u,

    But acc. To ashtang hridaya,sesame oil is not good for eyes.. cud u plz put alight on this?

    Hari Sharnam
    Puneet OM

    Reply

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