Sesame oil, called "til" oil in Sanskrit, has reportedly been known since Vedic times. The ancient ayurvedic scholar Charaka, in his well-known treatise on ayurveda, claims that it is the best of all oils. Sesame oil is the traditional oil of choice for abhyanga, the daily ayurvedic self-massage. It is rich in linoleic acid, and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Sesame oil is especially useful for pacifying Vata. It is very nourishing, and prevents the skin from getting excessively dry. Sesame oil massaged into the scalp once a week is an excellent way to nourish the scalp and restore the natural balance and luster of hair.
Sesame oil can be a very versatile ally in your efforts toward better health.
Here are three ways to use it:
- Try sniffing it (nasya) to lubricate and protect your nose and sinuses, which are the ventilation systems for your brain. The oil helps clear mucus out of the sinuses. Just dip your little finger in the sesame oil you use for your massage and rub the oil inside of each nostril. Then pinch and release your nostrils rapidly while inhaling sharply.
- Gargle with it for two minutes. It's not as bad as it sounds! Swish a mouthful of it, then spit it into the toilet and rinse your mouth out with warm water. It feels great, draws out mucus and has been shown to reduce gum disease and tartar build-up.
- Best of all, massage it all over your body to release skin impurities, then bathe or shower with warm water. If you have time, a warm tub bath increases circulation and is a means of further purification.
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