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As autumn approaches, the sun sets slowly, and our minds, spirit, and activities are revitalized by new energies. However, the lack of moisture in autumn results in dry, crisp air that  leads to thirst, excessive water intake, dry mouths and noses, flakey skin, increasing susceptibility to respiratory disease, bronchitis, constipation, acute stomachache and enteritis. That is why sesame is an ideal treat for autumn.

There are two types of sesame, yellow and black. Black sesame is more popular and is traditionally regarded as a nutritious food. Black sesame is also known as benne, and its scientific name is Sesamum indicum L.

According to modern medicine, black sesame contains rich, unsaturated fatty acids such as sesamin, sesamon, sesamolin, sesamol, oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, arachic acid, lecithin, glycerol, vitamin E, PP, folic acid, amino acid and a variety of minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus.

Thanks to its rich nutrient composition, sesame is good for the physically ailing elderly and malnourished children (used in combination with beans of all types). It also helps blood circulation, rejuvenates skin and hair, and extends youth because of its vitamins E and PP.  The whole plant is usable, including leaves, seeds and oil.

According to Oriental medicine, black sesame is sweet and neutral, and is good for constipation, generates vitality, boosts tendons, and improves vision and intelligence. Applied externally, black sesame can treat swelling, burns and acne. Black sesame also bolsters the liver, kidneys and other internal organs, strengthens semen,  improves hearing and vision and is ideal for people with anemia and premature grey hair. It is particularly good for agalactic postpartum women.

Sesame leaves are sweet and have a cooling effect that helps bolster vitality, benefits brain functions, improves tendons and cures numbness. Boil sesame leaves with water and wash your hair with the water to rejuvenate dryness and graying. Pounded and squeezed, sesame leaves can cure haemolysis.

Sesame oil is made from white sesame. It contains 40 per cent disaccharide fatty acid, 40 per cent monosaccharide fatty acid and 18 per cent saturated fatty acid. Our daily foods already contain saturated fatty acids. Sesame oil contains much less acid of this type and is healthier than coconut oil or palm oil. Applied on mucous membranes it helps reduce stimulation and inflammation. It also staves off high blood cholesterol and prevents hypertension in adults. Black sesame oil accelerates digestive functions, and cures constipation, particularly among the elderly. Sesame oil can be stored for long periods without going off.

How to Use Black Sesame Constipation: Consume a small glass of sesame oil every morning or or cook it with porridge.

Traditional recipes include Tang Ma (mulberry sesame). This remedy consists of only mulberry leaves (Tang diệp) and black sesame (Ma nhân).

It’s a safe and useful yin boosting treatment. The remedy smoothly eases digestive functions without causing aches like other laxatives (such as aloe vera, great morinda, or cassia). Stimulating laxatives make intestines contract, and prolonged use can lead to drug resistance. Oriental medicines put strong focus on yin and body fluid boosting. The mulberry sesame remedy boosts yin and generates new fluids. The oily substance of sesame lubricates excrement. Sesame oil helps stimulate bile fluid generation. Combined with mulberry leaves, it stimulates intestinal movement.

Chronic colitis: Black sesame 40g. Roast in hot saucepan until the sesame smells flavorful. Mix 1 tablespoon (15g) of black sesame with 1/3 tablespoon (5ml) of honey. Drink twice a day for one month.

Bloating (after a meal, possibly combined with heartburn and indigestion): Cook a cup of black sesame with porridge, add some salt and a piece of grated tangerine peel. Leave it to bit cool and serve after the meal.

Chronic rhinitis: Heat some sesame oil on low heat for 15 minutes. When it cools, pour the oil in a tightly capped, clean bottle. Drop the oil into the nostrils three times a day, two to three drops at first and increase to four to five drops later. After applying the cure, don’t move much during the first two or three minutes allowing the the oil to spread and permeate the nasal mu cosa. It will start to take effect after two weeks.

Anemic and agalactic postpartum women: Briefly roast black sesame, then pound and add some salt. Use on a daily basis to boost lactation. Serve with steamed rice or glutinous rice porridge. Consume for one or two days until  lactation begins.

Boosting lactation: Roast black sesame and serve it in gourd soup. Both ingredients help boost lactation. Black sesame enhances the tastes of gourd soup. The soup both stimulates appetite and increases breastfeeding abilities of postpartum women.

Breast pains (mastalgia): Postpartum women may have their mammary glands clogged, which results in swollen nipples and breast pain. Finely chew fresh black sesame seeds and apply on swollen breasts to stave off pains.

Premature grey hair: Grind half black sesame and half nutmeg into powder and roll into pills of 0.2g each. Consume 20 pills each and twice a day in the morning and evening.

Gingivitis: Each morning, hold two tablespoons (10ml) of sesame oil in your mouth and wash your mouth around 20 to 30 times, then spit  out the oil. The non-saponification components in sesame oil combats gingivitis.

In addition, black sesame can be used in cooking, which makes it both nutritious and useful:

Sesame porridge and yam: reduce cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.

Black sesame stimulates the liver to produce bile and reduce blood cholesterol.

Cardiovascular diseases can be traced to a yin deficiency. Black sesame and yams boost yin, so this combination ensures better functioning of the cardiovascular system and helps prevent atherosclerosis.

Bones and osteoarthritis: 100g of sesame contains 1,257mg of calcium and 3.1mg of manganese. Sesame contains more calcium than other plant-based foods, however, few consume up to 100g so this benefit may be overstated.

Sesame is black, just like kidneys. Hence, sesame boosts kidneys, which in turn strengthens our bones.

Black sesame is sometimes assumed to prevent osteoarthritis, which should be treated with caution. Joints connect the two ends of two bones. A joint comprises of an upholstery around the ends, the cartilage, and the gum. Osteoarthritis may stem from corroded cartilage tissues that are unable to regenerate, or lack of gum fluid. Osteoarthritis is associated with aging because of diminished chondrocyte regeneration and deficient gum fluid.

The assumption that black sesame improves osteoarthritis can be understood because manganese in sesame is part of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme system, which is the key to oxidization. Besides, selenium is the co-enzyme of glutathione peroxidase, which also blocks free radicals and prevents aging. Manganese also helps regenerate cartilage frames. Protein and lipids in sesame supply elements to synthesize chondroitin for joint fluid.

Boosting bile and preventing gallstones: Sesame oil helps stimulate bile fluid. Lecithin in sesame supplements the bile and enhances its quality. One of the causes of gallstones is the excess of precipitated cholesterol in the bile. Lecithin in sesame helps liquidize cholesterol and prevents the formation of gallstones. It also increases bile fluid, pushing small gallstones into the intestines and out of the body.

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Lecturer of Traditional Medicines. Graduated from Internal Medicine program and continued to pursue his study in Traditional Medicines. A researcher and author of numerous valuable books in traditional medicines.