Q. I’m interested in the sesame seed treatment you wrote about for sore, stiff knees. Why list the quantity in grams? I don’t know how to convert grams to ounces or pounds. How do we grind the seeds and how should we consume them?

A. You and many others were intrigued by the research published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases (Oct., 2013). In this study, some people with joint pain were assigned to take acetaminophen (2 grams/day) and glucosamine (500 mg/day) while the others got 40 grams of ground sesame seeds in addition to the medications. There are 28 grams in an ounce, approximately, so this dose is more than one ounce but less than two.

40 grams come to approximately 4 tablespoons of sesame seeds that could be added to your evening meal as is or ground up in a blender or coffee grinder, stirred into a liquid and consumed that way. Some readers have purchased tahini in the grocery and are taking their sesame seed in that form. 40 grams of tahini (sesame seed paste) take up 1 1/2 tablespoons.

We have seen only one study on sesame for joint pain and would like to see a confirmatory study. In the meantime, we are interested in your experience. If you try this remedy, please tell us how well it works –or not– in the comments below.

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  1. Lanny

    I had a dislocated shoulder a few years back and thought the pain from it would never go away. My wife read an article about the benefits of using sesame seed oil as a skin ointment to treat the soreness. After applying the oil to my shoulder for about two weeks, I have no more pain.
    I am currently using it on my hip as I will be getting a hip replacement in about two weeks. I have been using it twice a day for one week and it seems to be making a difference. I am a firm believer in the benefits of sesame seed oil and strongly recommend it for the treatment of sore muscles and aching joints.

  2. MMH

    I wrote earlier saying I thought it was helping my knees, but was eating with yogurt, blueberries, and cereal trying to hide the taste, i.e., results could have been from any of the above. Since then I’ve learned to like the taste and have been eating 3-4 heaping teaspoons/day. It’s definitely helped knee pain.

  3. jack c.

    I’m reading this article late, but have tried home-ground, organic sesame and found some relief, but there is something in them causing a sedating/lowering of energy level from more than 2 tbs. at a time. Hoped for better results, but not yet.

  4. MMH

    Not liking the taste, I’ve been putting 3 heaping dessert spoons of sesame seeds into about 3/4 cup of blueberries, about 1/3 cup Grape Nuts, a spoon of Splenda, and about a cup of yogurt. That seems to disguise the taste (and texture) pretty well. I’ve tried this for about 2-1/2 weeks for breakfast and results are positive. Definitely less knee pain, although other pains (arthritic thumb, etc) show no improvement.
    It should be noted that this is NOT a “gold standard” test as it is not blind, and I have increased my consumption of everything else in the mix and decreased my consumption of eggs, which was my standard breakfast. So improvement could be due to blueberries, for example, or fewer eggs, or …?
    But that editorial aside, I must say that I’m hooked, as is my skeptical husband. Something is helping!

  5. Penny

    I make hummus in the blender and we use it the same as we use mayonnaise as well as a vegetable/chip dip, also sprinkle sesame and flax seeds on salad.

  6. CD

    I was confused about the article since wasnt clear to me what the people in the study actually took re the 40 grams per day. It mentioned sesamin which is available as a supplement in 1000 mg capsules (40 grams would be 4,000 capsules). Can you confirm they took 40 grams of seeds? I wonder if the supplement would have the same effect and what the equivalent might be re the seeds

  7. Fredda

    Would toasted sesame seeds have the same effect or do they need to be untoasted?

  8. PWC

    I found your note about sesame seeds this morning interesting and made me wonder if sesame oil might be as effective. I always enjoy your column in the Chicago Tribune! Best, Peg C.

  9. william w.

    My sore knee turned out to be ileotibial syndrome, caused by the big tendon (ligament?) running down the outside of the thigh from hip to knee. It gets taut and needs stretching. There is a padded cylinder you can buy which helps me. Also Google stretches for it.

  10. LMV

    I use ground sesame seeds as a good source of plant-based calcium. A small, inexpensive electric coffee grinder works well to grind the seeds.

  11. Soozi

    I would like to follow this and learn from the experience of others.
    Have not yet tried sesame or tahini. I am worried that tahini is high in sodium and other things, perhaps fat. My dance class leavs my knees sore and I’m hopeful to keep them youngish. So, I’m very careful not to do too much.
    Thank you.

  12. MMH

    I’ve just ordered 10 pounds of the seeds for me and my husband. We’ll let you know if it helps.

  13. Wendy

    There are conversion charts for everything online.

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