sesame seeds

Q. You often suggest anti-inflammatory foods as alternatives to pharmacy pain relievers. Why not consider sesame? An ingredient in this seed, sesamin, blocks the inflammatory activity of insulin.

A. Thank you for the suggestion (and the further details below). Although we have been collecting home remedies for decades, we have not encountered any using sesame seeds. That said, we just discovered a clinical trial comparing ground sesame seed plus acetaminophen to acetaminophen (APAP, Tylenol) alone for knee arthritis (International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, Oct., 2013).

The researchers divided 50 people with arthritic knee pain into two groups. One received 2,000 mg of APAP and 500 mg glucosamine daily while the other got the same amount of APAP plus 40 grams of sesame daily.

After two months, those who had taken the sesame seed had significantly less pain and better function than those taking the drug. (Some people may wonder how to measure out 40 grams of ground sesame seeds. This comes to approximately 4 tablespoons, if you don’t have a kitchen scale.) Other scientists have found that sesamin has a beneficial effect on cartilage (Glycoconjugate Journal, online, Dec. 12, 2013). 

Your reasoning might explain why elevated insulin levels, such as occur in pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes, might have a pro-inflammatory effect. This could also explain why excess fat tissue seems to stir up whole-body inflammation.

We discuss many other foods and food products that fight inflammation naturally in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It reviews many of our favorite foods as well as home remedies.

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  1. Karen S.
    WA
    Reply

    I was online and just about to purchase sesame seeds when I realized I needed more info. Do they need to be hulled? I have a coffee grinder but not sure if that will do the trick or not if they are not hulled – or if it even matters. Is there a type that is better (black) etc? Thanks

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