Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is also known as benne and gingili. Sesame seeds come from the tall, strong smelling, annual herb. It is native to the East Indies. The stems grow up to one metre high, clad in sticky hairs, with large, divided, lower leaves.
Sesame was one of the earliest plants to be used by humans both for its seeds and oil. The seeds are collected when ripe and pressed for oil, ground into a paste or stored for decoctions.
The seeds contain sesamol, which is a natural preservative, so the oil pressed from them is very stable and highly resistant to oxidation.
It is rich in monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and in lecithin. Sesame oil is used as a cooking oil and salad dressing.
Medicinally, it is used internally for hair loss, stiff joints, coughs, and to treat the digestive system.