Selective Growth Inhibition of a Human Malignant Melanoma Cell Line by Sesame Oil In Vitro

Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Vol. 46, pp. 145-150, 1992.

D. Edwards Smith and J.W. Salerno.

Conducted at
Laboratory for Preventive Medicine, Department of Physiological and Biological Sciences, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, IA 52556


Ayurveda, an ancient and comprehensive system of natural medicine, recommends regular topical application to the skin of sesame oil, above all other oils, as a health-promoting procedure. We examined the effect of sesame oil and several other vegetable oils and their major component fatty acids on the proliferation rate of human normal and malignant melanocytes growing at similar rates in serum-free media. We found that sesame and safflower oils, both of which contain large amounts of linoleate in triglyceride form, selectively inhibited malignant melanoma growth over normal melanocytes, whereas coconut, olive, and mineral oils, which contain little or no linoleate as triglyceride, did not. These oils were tested at a range of 10-300 microgram/mL. We found that of the fatty acids tested, only linoleic acid was selectively inhibitory, while palmitic and oleic were not. These fatty acids were tested in the range of 3-100 microgram/mL. These results suggest that certain vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid, such as sesame oil recommended for topical use by Ayurveda, may contain selective antineoplastic properties which are similar to those demonstrated for essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and their metabolites. This suggests that whole vegetable oils may have potential clinical usefulness.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.