Sesame is a widely used ingredient in Ayurvedic preparations. The oil extracted from sesame is a vital part of many Ayurvedic remedies to offer better blood flow, lymphatic stimulation, soft and lustrous skin, improved collagen production, and cleansing of internal organs. Thus sesame oil is a necessary part of any beauty and wellness regime.
If not us, listen to Vagbhata, an ancient Ayurvedic scholar, who claims sesame oil to be the best of all oils in the “Astang Sangraha”,
Sirasravana padheshu tam viseshene sheelayeth.” ~ (A.H. Su2/9,10)
It means, “External application of the Sesame Oil is to be done daily as it helps to reduce all signs of aging, fatigue, and dryness of the skin. The massage also enhances clarity of vision, nourishes the whole body, and lends longevity…”
What is Sesame oil?
Sesame oil is a nourishing oil loaded with vital nutrients. It contains vitamins B6, E, and K, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, etc. It is derived from sesame or til seeds that contain nutrients rich in antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. The oil is very viscous and quickly penetrates through the deepest layers of the skin for nourishing, detoxifying, and improving blood circulation. Considered auspicious, sesame oil is among the oldest oils used by humans and a symbol of immortality amongst the Hindus, as per mythological records. In Ayurveda, there is a special significance in using sesame oil; Master Charaka considered sesame oil most suitable for enhancing strength and offering moisture and oil to the body.
Ayurveda’s preferred oil, sesame oil
Sesame oil, also known as Til oil in Sanskrit, has been widely used since Vedic times. The Ayurvedic texts discuss the ability of the oil to pacify Vata dosha, and it is often used as the ideal oil for Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage). Ayurveda regards sesame oil as the queen of all oils for its ability to help nourish and strengthen skin and hair. Enriched with several nutrients, many Ayurvedic preparations have sesame oil as their base product. Apart from these, Ayurveda recognizes several other properties of sesame and sesame oil, including Dantya (good for teeth), Deepana (improves digestion), Medhakara (improves intelligence), Vranashodhana (cleanses wounds), Twachya (good for skin), Vayasthapana (rejuvenating and anti-aging), Balya (strength promoting activity), Keshya (beneficial to hair). Ayurveda recognizes sesame oil to be a Tridoshic. However, it is most effective in dealing with Kapha and Vata imbalances.
The sesame oil's healing, warm, and soothing properties make it perfect for balancing vitiated Vata and Kapha dosha. The imbalance of Vata and Kapha can lead to dryness in the scalp and overall skin. Therefore, sesame oil's warm and intensely moisturizing qualities can help balance Vata and Kapha. While Kapha imbalance can be managed with sesame oil, it must not be used when experiencing excess Kapha, as it is also heavy and building. Since sesame oil is associated with heat, its excessive use can aggravate Pitta. Thus sesame oil can balance Vata and Kapha but aggravate Pitta.
Soothe sun damage: Sesame oil is rich in antioxidants and has Sukshma (deep tissue penetration) properties, which makes it an excellent sunscreen. Applying a generous amount of sesame oil on the skin before stepping out in the sun, will help form a protective layer/barrier1on the skin and shield it from the penetrating UV rays of the sun2. The anti-inflammatory properties of sesame oil can also help reduce the redness, and damage caused by excessive sun exposure, and reduce the chances of any further sun damage.
Anti-aging properties: Ayurveda also highlights the (Vyavasthapan) anti-aging and rejuvenating properties of sesame oil. It is loaded with antioxidants that are capable of helping reverse the signs of aging and prevent premature aging. The oil contains sesamol3 and sesamin, a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, the antioxidant is also helpful in reducing the damage caused by UV rays4, environmental toxins, and pollution. Apart from this, the fatty acids and vitamins present in sesame oil can help repair damage in the skin cells5 and reduce enlarged pores. Thus when applied regularly to the skin, sesame oil can visibly reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. The compound also helps enhance collagen production and improve skin elasticity.
Skin cleansing and exfoliation: Dead skin and pollutants can damage the skin and give it a dull appearance. Therefore, cleaning and exfoliating the skin without damaging it further is crucial. As per traditional practices and remedies, sesame oil can be used as an effective cleanser and exfoliator for the skin. The natural properties of sesame oil can help remove dirt, oil, accumulated sebum, dead skin, bacteria, and other pollutants and oil-soluble toxins from the skin pores, reduce the chances of skin problems, and get rid of dullness. Sesame oil can help give the skin a glowing, soft, and bright look by gently exfoliating the skin naturally and cleaning the pores. Thus, a user can experience brighter, even-toned, and supple skin by applying and massaging sesame oil. Similarly, adding a few drops of sesame oil to regular scrub or with oatmeal can act as an excellent scrub. Using it twice a week can offer excellent results.
Wound healing: As per traditional remedies and Ayurvedic records, sesame oil was often applied to wounds for quick healing. The oil can improve blood circulation, rejuvenate the skin, and help promote the quick recovery of damaged cells. Modern-day research6 also supports the claims made by Ayurveda and attributes the ability to speed the healing of wounds and burns, to sesame oil's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ayurveda also highlights sesame oil's Vranashodhana (cleansing of wounds) property.
Additionally, sesame oil is rich in nutrients that help increase the cell renewal process and repair scar tissues, healing damaged skin. So if you have cut or scraped your skin against something rough or sharp, applying sesame oil can help calm the skin and heal the wound. Ayurveda also suggests that applying sesame oil to the infected area can help in reducing the appearance of scars or marks on the skin.
Moisturizing:The imbalance of Vata is associated with dryness in the scalp and overall skin; sesame oil's warm and oily qualities can help balance Vata. The powerful combination of linoleic acid and fatty acids in sesame oil makes it a natural moisturizer. By applying sesame oil to the skin, it can form a thin protective layer on the skin to trap moisture.
Helps deal with acne: Sesame oil is loaded with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help with acne issues. Ayurveda and scientific research7 have highlighted that sesame oil can help a person get rid of acne, pimple, blackheads, white hats, and other stubborn acne. Since sesame oil does not clog pores and exfoliate the skin, it can help manage acne-prone skin. Furthermore, sesame oil's anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne.
Hair loss: When applied and massaged on the scalp, sesame oil helps control hair fall and promote hair growth; this is attributed to its Snigdha (oily) and Roman (healing) properties. Research has highlighted that sesame oil contains sesamin, a bioactive compound that deters the enzyme responsible for hair loss. Sesame oil also has tranquilizing properties. By massaging hair with sesame oil relieves anxiety and prevents hair fall caused by oxidative stress8. Ayurveda and multiple other traditional remedies suggest that applying sesame oil on the scalp can facilitate hair growth and prevent baldness.
Helps reduce dryness: People with Vata and Kapha imbalance can experience dry scalp. Harsh chemicals, pollution, heat, and sun damage can also trigger scalp dryness and make them lose moisture, lusture, and become brittle. To get rid of dryness, a person can combine two tablespoons of sesame seed oil and two tablespoons of aloe vera gel. The penetrative, nourishing, and soothing properties of sesame oil can help balance vitiated Vata and Kapha, provide deep nourishment to the scalp, and lock the moisture content in our hair.
There is a reason why ayurvedic experts and traditional medical practitioners highly recommend sesame oil. Sesame oil offers multiple benefits making it a multi-purpose Ayurvedic wellness staple. Apart from offering benefits that nourish and enhance hair and skin, it can also promote physical strength, aid digestion, reduce pain, and boost the body's ability to handle stress.