Come winters and all one wants to do is soak up the sun. This is also the season when one must be more careful about one’s health and daily routine, since winters can be quite severe. One of the best natural things you can turn to is sesame seed.
Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate crunch. They come in a host of different colours depending on the variety, most common being white and black. These seeds were thought to have first originated in India and were mentioned in early Hindu legends. In these legends, tales are told in which sesame seeds represent a symbol of immortality. From India, sesame seeds were introduced throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Sesame seeds were one of the first crops processed for oil as well as one of the earliest condiments. They are highly valued for their high content of sesame oil that is resistant to rancidity.
Sesame oil, known as til oil in Sanskrit, has been known since vedic times. The hindi word for oil (tel) is also derived from sesame oil (from Sanskrit taila, which means obtained from tila or sesame). The ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, claims that it is the best of all oils. Since it penetrates the skin easily, it is the traditional oil of choice for abhyanga, the daily Ayurvedic self-massage. Also since it is warm in nature, it is best used during winters. It is especially useful for pacifying vata and is very nourishing, preventing the skin from getting excessively dry.
Being a rich source of vitamin B and E, til oil has numerous health benefits:
- Regular massage with til oil improves blood circulation, eases pain and muscle spasm and relieves lethargy, fatigue and insomnia. Sesame oil when used to massage infants helps calm babies and lulls them to sleep and improves growth of the brain and the nervous system.
- The high calcium content in til oil makes it excellent nourishment for bones and subsequently for hair and nails (since they are an extension of the bones). Those with brittle nails can soak them in warm til oil daily, for better, stronger nails.
- Vitamin B and E found in til oil assists in lessening skin damage. Til oil also gives the skin a more natural and youthful glow by keeping it soft and supple.
- The anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of til oil help fight damage caused by bacteria, ageing and viruses in the body, specifically in the blood
- Sesame oil has a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-6 fatty acids) which helps control blood pressure
- Til oil has healing properties. It heals and protects areas of mild scrapes, cuts and burns
- Since it contains some amount of SPF, til oil also works as a natural sunblock
- The magnesium content in sesame oil supports vascular and respiratory health
- On the skin, oil-soluble toxins are attracted to sesame seed oil molecules which can then be washed away with hot water and a mild soap. Internally, the oil molecules attract oil-soluble toxins and carry them into the blood stream and then out of the body as waste
- Til oil can also be used in cooking in place of other edible oils
- Sesame seeds are a great source of nutrition. Being high in calcium, they provide the necessary calcium dietary requirement to those who are lactose intolerant.
So the next time you get an opportunity, don’t think before you say Open Sesame!
Quick Sesame Seed Scrub
Coarsely pound a handful of sesame seeds, add a pinch of turmeric, and salt crystals or raw sugar and use as a dry scrub. Sesame moisturizes and nourishes the skin, turmeric is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and enhances complexion and salt or sugar crystals scrape the dirt and dead skin off. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil for fragrance and their special effects.
Essential oils you could try:
• Rose-known for its anti-ageing, cooling and soothing properties
• Lavender-known for its calming, anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory properties. Also great for application on sun-burnt skin
• Lemon grass-known for its anti-depressant, anti-microbial, stress-relieving and deodorizing properties