Sesame Oil And Face Massage

Sesame oil, also called gingelly or til oil, is derived from the sesame seed. The oil is easily available and used worldwide and has been for thousands of years. It is an important flavor for many Asian and Indian food dishes and has been studied for its medicinal benefits, most notably its ability to lower blood pressure.

Best known as a common Asian and East Indian cooking ingredient, sesame oil also has known health benefits. It is an antioxidant, is high in polyunsaturated fats, has estrogen-like effects in the body and is a natural source of vitamin E and minerals. The oil is a frequent staple in alternative medicine treatments and has been studied as a treatment for cancer, menopause and gum disease and as a pain reliever. Medicinal use, although common in Ayurvedic and Oriental treatments, is not approved in the U.S. by the FDA.


Sesame oil has been in use as a food and medication for thousands of years. It is believed to be one of the first crops grown and used for its oil. Its usefulness has been known as early as 600 BC, when it was used by wealthy Assyrians. Hindus have long used the oil in lamps and believe it has spiritual powers. Sesame oil is also an important treatment in Ayurvedic, Oriental and Tibetan medicine.


Sesame oil is the fourth-highest in polyunsaturated fats of the oils (safflower, soybean and corn oils rank higher). Polyunsaturated fats are known to benefit the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats are important for cellular growth and development, particularly in relation to inflammation and cellular damage. Sesame oil has known anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties and is often used as a home remedy or natural alternative for skin irritation.

Risk Factors

Since sesame oil is so high in polyunsaturated fats, it should not be consumed in large quantities. The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 25 to 35 percent of your total daily caloric intake come from fats. Additionally, large quantities may have a laxative effect. There are no negative side effects reported when sesame oil is used in normal quantities (no more than 35 percent of daily caloric intake). Sesame oil should be protected from exposure to heat and light during its storage in order to prevent spoiling.


Sesame oil comes in a variety of types, which differ according to the method of processing. Cold-pressed sesame oil is pressed directly from the raw sesame seed, resulting in oil with a light color and flavor. Sesame oil obtained from toasted sesame seeds has a darker brown color than its cold-pressed counterpart. Oil produced from toasted sesame seeds also has a stronger flavor and fragrance. The smoke point of sesame oil is 420 degrees F, which makes it very useful for cooking at high temperatures.

Sesame seeds and their oil are an important food and medicinal product for many cultures, particularly Asian and East Asian cultures. Because of sesame oils long shelf life, high tolerance for heat it and distinguished flavor it is an important cooking oil. Sesame oil is also commonly used to manufacture non-food items such as soap, paint and perfumes.

Expert Insight

A study published in the "Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine" concluded that sesame oil has some impact on lowering blood pressure and increasing antioxidant status in patients with high blood pressure. Research continues to focus on the oils use as a cancer treatment. There is no recommended dose for the use of sesame oil, and individuals are encouraged to use it in their food to obtain any health benefits.

Benefits of a Sesame Oil Face Massage

A face massage is best when oil is included, to provide a smooth surface so the therapist does not pull and stretch the skin. Sesame oil is one of the most frequently used massage oils in Ayurveda, the traditional healing system of India, and this oil provides particular benefits. The Maharishi Ayurveda website recommends using cold-pressed organic sesame oil for best results.

Tridoshic Benefits

Within the Ayurvedic tradition, sesame oil is viewed as tridoshic, meaning it has benefits for all three doshas--vata, pitta and kapha. Doshas are similar to the concept of energetic forces and are factors in regulating health and disease, according to Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Each individual has varying degrees of each dosha, some especially influenced by one or two, and some with a more balanced energy. Sesame oil has a special effect on vata, the dosha that usually needs attention.


The pouring of warmed sesame oil infused with herbs onto the forehead for several minutes is called Shirodhara, as explained by Terra Rosa. This therapy is traditionally used for nerve calming; releasing stored emotions; purifying the mind; and relieving fatigue, anxiety, nervousness and mental exhaustion. It may be performed after facial massage. Ayurveda medicine considers Shirodhara massage a psycho-spiritual treatment important for achieving higher states of consciousness.

Carrier Oil

Sesame oil is beneficial as a carrier oil, also called base oil, for aromatherapy facial massage. Essential oils are very strong, and nearly all of them must be diluted with a carrier oil before applying to skin. Each carrier oil has a different group of properties providing specific therapeutic benefits. A sesame oil face massage provides the antioxidants vitamins A and E to facial skin. Antioxidants protect skin from cell damage that can be caused by free radicals. Sesame oil also provides protein to skin and is a moisturizer.

Additional Benefits

Most people have no adverse reactions to sesame oil, and it is widely available and relatively inexpensive, as explained by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. Sesame oil is a medium-weight oil, so it flows easily from the container at a rate appropriate for massage, including Shirodhara.

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