Sesame Oil and Diabetes

Alone or in combination with glibenclamide, sesame oil has significant benefits for people with diabetes

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

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Sankar D, Ali A, Sambandam G, Rao R. Sesame oil exhibits synergistic effect with antidiabetic medication in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec 15. [Epub ahead of print]


This open label study included 60 type 2 diabetes mellitus patients divided into 3 groups; 18 patients received sesame oil, 20 patients took a daily dose of glibenclamide (Glyburide), and 22 took both sesame oil and glibenclamide. The patients in the sesame group were supplied with sesame oil and instructed to use about 35 grams (about 2.4 tablespoons) per day in cooking or salad preparation for 60 days. Blood samples were collected at baseline and after 60 days of the experiment for analysis.

Key Findings

In this group of type 2 diabetics, sesame oil had a synergistic effect with glibenclamide. The combination therapy significantly lowered blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c more than either oil alone or drug alone did.

In those who received only sesame oil, total cholesterol dropped 20%, LDL cholesterol dropped 33.8%, and triglycerides dropped 14%. In those receiving both sesame oil and glibenclamide, these numbers were even better: 22%, 38% and 15% respectively. HDL increased 15.7% in the sesame oil patients and 17% in those receiving the combination of oil and drug.

The combination therapy significantly lowered blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c more than either oil alone or drug alone did.

Practice Implications

This is not the first study to suggest that sesame oil supplementation is beneficial for diabetics. In a 2005 paper on rats with chemically induced diabetes, Ramesh et al reported that, after 42 days of eating a diet supplemented with 6% sesame oil, mean blood glucose dropped from approximately 322.61 mg/dL to 222.02 mg/dL.1 In 2007 Dhar et al, also using rats with chemically induced diabetes, reported that sesame lignans not only improved the lipid profile but significantly reduced the peroxidation of the LDL cholesterol.2

In 2006 Sankar et al reported the results from their pilot study on 40 hypertensive diabetics that found eating sesame oil caused significant effects in hypertensive diabetics medicated with atenolol and glibenclamide. The patients switched to sesame oil for cooking for 45 days at which point they switched to other oils like palm or peanut oils for another 45 days. During the sesame oil portion of the study, “Systolic and diastolic BP decreased remarkably. When oil substitution was withdrawn, BP values rose again.” During the sesame oil phase of the study, body weight, body mass index, girth of waist, girth of hip, and waist:hip ratio decreased. So did plasma glucose, hemoglobin A1c, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.3

Given these results it now seems reasonable to suggest a little experiment to your type 2 diabetic patients. Have them switch to eating only sesame oil for 8 weeks and see if their lipid profiles improve.

Given the parameters that are improved by sesame oil, we must wonder whether it might benefit those with metabolic syndrome. Suggesting a similar experiment to those with metabolic syndrome might be worth considering.

As a side note, there has also been recent interest in sesame oil’s capacity to accelerate wound healing.4,5,6,7 Given that a common complication that diabetics suffer is poor wound healing, this action may also prove of useful for this patient population.

About the Author

Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO, is a graduate of National University of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, and recently retired from his practice in Denver, Colorado. He served as president to the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is a past member of the board of directors of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He is recognized as a fellow by the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. He serves on the editorial board for the International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor News and Review (NDNR), and Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal. In 2008, he was awarded the Vis Award by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. His writing appears regularly in NDNR, the Townsend Letter, and Natural Medicine Journal, where he is the past Abstracts & Commentary editor.


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  2. Dhar P, Chattopadhya K, Bhattacharyya D, Biswas A, Roy B, Ghosh S. Ameliorative influence of sesame lignans on lipid profile and lipid peroxidation in induced diabetic rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(14):5875-5880.
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