- Family Pedaliaceae
- Sesamum indicum
- Sesamum orientale
- Sesame Seeds, Oriental Sesame, Beniseed, Gingelly, Hei Zhi Ma (Chinese)
- None listed.
Native to Africa, this erect annual grows to six feet, producing lance-shaped to oval leaves, white, pink, or mauve flowers and oblong seed capsules housing many small grayish seeds. It is now cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions. The main seed-oil producing countries are India, Sudan, Burma, and China. The root is unearthed in the summer, while the seeds are gathered after the capsules have turned brownish-black.
Sesame was one of the plants found in the tomb of Tutankhamun (1370-1352 BCE).
In ancient Egypt, the seeds were eaten; and the oil pressed from them used to burn in lamps and to make ointments.
The seeds have been eaten in India and China for thousands of years.
- stimulates breast-milk production
- lowers blood sugar levels
- raises levels of stored carbohydrates (glycogen)
- nutritious oil (55% comprising mainly of unsaturated fats each of oleic and linoleic acids [35-50% each], palmitic acid [7-12%], and stearic acid [3-6%])
- protein (26%)
- vitamins B, E
- minerals (especially calcium)
- Seeds, seed oil, root
Long used as a food, sesame is also a healing remedy, especially for burns (see Foods section).
It has long been used to redress “states of deficiency” in China, especially those affecting the liver and kidneys.
The seeds are prescribed for such problems as dizziness, blurred vision (if caused by anemia), and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Because of its lubricating effects, it is used to treat dry constipation.
The oil is beneficial to the skin and is often used as a base for cosmetics.
It has the ability to stimulate breast milk production.
Root decoctions are used to treat coughs and asthma.