Sesamin belongs to a subclass of polyphenol compounds referred to as a lignans. In seeds, lignans act to provide rigidity to the seeds’ cell walls and protect against rotting, a form of oxidative stress. Sesamin is found in sesame seeds. 

Throughout history, sesame seeds have played a prominent role in culinary and medicinal traditions. Sesame seed oil is highly valued for its recalcitrance to spoilage. This property underscores the sesame seeds’ potent anti-oxidative attributes. Numerous scientists consider sesamin the major health promoting phytonutrient in sesame seeds. 

Musculoskeletal Benefits of Sesamin

1.Sesamin Promotes Joint Health

A cardinal feature of advanced joint disease is decreased quality and quantity of special sugar proteins called glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans. The popular supplements chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are examples of these types of substances. These special sugar proteins are important in maintaining the shock absorbing properties of the joint. Decreased quantity or sub optimal quality of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans magnifies all the negative symptoms associated with joint disease, such as pain, stiffness, and weakness.

Research suggests sesamin stimulates production of these joint boosting substances. Additionally, studies demonstrate that sesamin suppresses the action of Interleukin-1 Beta (IL-ß). Many scientists consider IL-1ß one of the key promoters of inflammation. With respect to joint injury, IL-1ß has been shown to:

  • Decreases the production shock absorbing proteins
  • Upregulate the activity of enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases that release acid that destroys healthy tissue
  • Enhances nitric oxide activity, which magnifies an unhealthy healing response and puts healthy cells at risk for injury

Thai scientists investigated sesamin’s protective effect on human cartilage cells. Cells administered sesamin exhibited enhanced proteoglycan synthesis, suppressed IL-1β expression and decreased IL-1β induced inflammation. (Srisuthtayanontet al. Effects of sesamin on chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan synthesis induced by interleukin-1beta in human chondrocytes BMC Complementary and Alternative MedicineBMC series – open, inclusive and trusted201717:286


Researches in Iran administered 40 g of sesame seeds per day to patients with knee arthritis. At the end of two months, the treatment group reported less pain and improved function compared to the non-treatment group. (Sadat et al. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2013; 16: 578–582.)

2. Sesamin Boosts Bone Health

Osteoporosis is caused by an imbalance between bone resorption and bone production. High rates of bone resorption and low rates of bone formation lead to poor bone quality and quantity. Research suggests sesamin stimulates the synthesis of key proteins that boost the mineralization of bone and improve bone quality. Additionally, some investigation implies sesamin may reduce the activity of bone resorbing cells called osteoclasts.

 Thai investigators evaluated sesamin supplementation on the bone producing cells of rats. The  authors of the study concluded that sesamin promotes new bone cell formation. (Wanachewinet al. Sesamin stimulates osteoblast differentiation through p38 and ERK1/2 MAPK signaling pathways. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:71

3. Sesamin Supports Muscle Health

Muscle contains massive amounts of mitochondria, since large numbers of mitochondria are needed to provide the fuel muscle needs to perform all the herculean tasks asked of it. Poorly functioning mitochondria cause not only muscle dysfunction, but also whole body dysfunction.

Animal research suggests that sesamin protects mitochondria and promotes mitochondrial health. Additionally, sesamin boosts mitochondrial fatty oxidation. Fatty oxidation is a type of energy generating process that is most efficient and yields the most energy. Finally, sesamin demonstrates potent anti-oxidant properties that helps shield muscle from oxidative stress.


Japanese investigators treated diabetic rats with sesamin supplementation. The researchers demonstrated improved mitochondrial function, fat oxidation and attenuation of oxidative stress in the skeletal muscle. (Takada et al. Sesamin prevents decline in exercise capacity and impairment of skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in mice with high-fat diet-induced diabetes. Exp Physiol 100.11 (2015) pp 1319–1330)

4. Sesamin Enhances Vitamin E Activity

Vitamin E is a crucial antioxidant. Vitamin E is fat soluble, which allows it to penetrate fat. Fat solubility is a property that many antioxidants do not posses.

Fat is highly vulnerable to oxidative stress and is a frequent site of unrestrained inflammation. Research suggests sesamin increases the amount of vitamin E available for antioxidant protection. Investigators believe sesamin interferes with the enzymes that attempt to break down vitamin E and remove it from the body. Optimal amounts of vitamin E circulating within bone, muscle, and joint provides antioxidant protection and promotes health.


Japanese researchers investigated the effects of a high sesame seed diet on rats. The investigators demonstrated enhanced vitamin E activity and a marked increase in vitamin E concentration in the blood and tissue. (Yamashita K, Nohara Y, Katayama K, Namiki M. Sesame seed lignans and gamma-tocopherol act synergistically to produce vitamin E activity in rats. J Nutr. 1992;122:2440–6.)

5. Sesamin is a Potent Antioxidant

Sesamin is a type of polyphenol called a lignan. The special chemical structure of sesamin and its metabolites confer antioxidant attributes.

Researchers in India examined the antioxidant capacity of sesame seeds. The authors found that sesame possessed three potent antioxidants including: sesamol, sesamin, sesamolin.(Mahendra Kumar C et al. Bioactive lignans from sesame (Sesamum indicum L.): evaluation of their antioxidant and antibacterial effects for food applications. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 May;52(5):2934-41.)


Top Sources of Sesamin

The best sources of sesamin are sesame seeds and sesame rich products.



Sesamin from natural foods is generally well tolerated.

There is no reported upper limit. High consumption may lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Sesamin may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners and also increase drowsiness when taken with sedatives.

Any consideration a supplementation should be discussed with a qualified health professional familiar with your unique medical history.



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 Lucas J. Bader MD

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