Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesame is highly tolerant to drought like conditions, and grows where other crops may fail. The introduction of sesame to Northern Australia can be dated back as far at the mid-late 1800’s. Sesame quickly naturalised in the surrounding areas and today three black-seeded landraces of sesame are known to exist between Darwin and Larrimah, some 500 kilometres south of Darwin. Sesame is an erect annual plant that can grow to a height of two metres. It bears elongated oval leaves on a stem which can be branched or unbranched, depending on the variety. Approximately six weeks after sowing, the sesame plant develops furry, tubular flowers reminiscent of a cornucopia in shape. The flowers can be white, yellow, pink or violet. They may be speckled and grow in groups of three in the leaf axils. The flowers are usually self-pollinated and in most cases only the middle fruit of the group fully ripens. The long taproot has many lateral roots. The plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions and needs much warmth and moisture for its growth and dry weather for the seed to ripen. When the seed capsules have turned brownish black they burst and release the ripe seeds.
Sesame has been used as a healing oil for thousands of years. It also has medicinal purposes, especially in Ayurvedic medicine, where it is used as a base oil for about 90 percent of the herbal oils.
Sesame Seed Oil used as a carrier oil offers a blissfully relaxing and comforting treatment but is a thick oil with a strong fragrance. It is packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamin E and potassium which help to rejuvenate and protect the skin. It is a wonderful emollient which promotes supple, soft and youthful looking skin. It is used to gentle soothe and heal skin inflammatory conditions including psoriasis, eczema, etc as well as help fade blemishes. It is rich in zinc. It is a natural sunscreen. Sesame Oil also has natural antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
In the food industry, sesame an excellent source of copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fibre. Sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin which have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. The health benefits of sesame oil include its ability to improve hair and skin health, stimulate strong bone growth, reduce blood pressure, increase heart health, manage anxiety and depression, protect infant health, boost your dental health, prevent cancer, improve the digestive process, and lower inflammation.
Apart from cooking, Sesame Oil is also used for cosmetic purposes. It is popular in cosmetics as a natural moisturizer. It is traditionally recommended for oil pulling.
Note that sesame oil has strong fragrance and is a thick oil.
Sesame oil can be found in cosmetics, baby oil, diaper rash creams, body scrubs, body creams, lotions and butters, body wash, face cleansers and moisturizers, body oils, anti-aging creams, hand and foot creams, hair oils, shampoos and conditioners.