Gingelly oil is commonly known as sesame oil, made from sesame seeds. Its scientific name is (sesamum Indicum) and it is native to South India where it is used for its medicinal properties and as a hair preparation. It is also one of the edible oils and has a high smoking point, widely used in both Indian and Chinese cuisine as a flavour enhancer.
It was one of the first crops to be processed for its oil and evidence of its uses can be traced as far back as 3000 BC where it was used by the Assyrians in food, as an ointment and in other medicinal preparations. It has always been very expensive to produce; and at one time it was only the wealthy that were able to afford its use.
In Hindu culture, it is used in the manufacture of alternative medicines, known as (Ayurvedic preparations) and as fuel to light their lamps and lanterns during religious worship where it is regarded as sacred oil. Used as a therapeutic oil by masseuse, because it easily penetrates the skin and is particularly useful for softening hard skin on the soles of the feet. Asian women is said to use it to embellish their food immediately after child birth.
Its colour can be describes as light yellow, it has a sweet smell and a nutty flavour which is brought about by roasting and toasting the seeds before the oil is extracted. However, where the oil is extracted from raw sesame seeds, using the cold compress method it is less flavoursome.
It is effective as a stand alone sun-block oil, in the treatment of skin diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, skin blemishes, toothache, gingivitis and other common mouth problems. Further, it is recommended for its effectiveness in the relief of tiredness and it helps to improve blurred vision.
Used as a hair preparation it is claimed to darkened the hair thus deepening and improving both the lustre and colour and it also helps to prevent hair loss. It is rich in Vitamin E which has proven antioxidant properties, Vitamin B complex, minerals such as calcium, Magnesium and phosphorous.
Its antioxidant properties are effective in the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol, believed to be due to the polyunsaturated fatty-acids contained in gingelly oil. It remains fluid at room temperature and will not solidify in cold conditions. It is often massaged into the scalp and is said to be beneficial in relieving stress, tension, headaches and dizziness and also have anti-depressant properties which helps to promote a sense of well-being.
Gingelly oil is not as widespread as other commonly uses oils, however it can be purchased from health food stores in the west or it can be bought on-line where there are many outlets advertising the product.