This study, testing whether sesame oil can improve cardiovascular health, is 12 weeks long. My visits were scheduled every three weeks. But the first was just a quick drop-in to pick up a new supply of oil.
The researchers were very particular about how the oil was handled. They gave me a 2-tablespoon utensil to use for my daily dose, but reminded me that I would have to return the spoon when I was done. I also had to record the dose I took every day. Finally, I had to return the bottle with any unused oil. There was some extra in there in case I spilled, but they also measured to see precisely how much I used. It’s not that researchers lack trust in their volunteers – it’s all about data, data, and more data.
I also recorded any side effects I noticed. My only real problem was occasional nausea for a short while after taking my oil. But that was really my own fault. I didn’t split the dose, as some people had recommended. I was too impatient for that. I just wanted to get each dose taken as quickly as possible every day. My primary delivery vehicle was a glass of juice. I just mixed the oil in and drank it all in a few gulps. Eight ounces of juice helps the medicine go down, I guess.
I also occasionally mixed the oil into a small fruit cup and then swallowed the fruit, juice and oil contents all in just a few bites. The oil didn’t really taste bad – it was just somewhat inconvenient to add it to my diet.
It’s a small price to pay if we learn someday that a simple thing like adding a new type of fat to our diet can reduce the risk for heart problems.
At the six-week point, I had a longer and more involved visit. I did the oil swap, but also had to repeat many of the health measures from the beginning of the study and offer up a blood sample, too. I now had a chart, with a record of being a difficult blood draw (that’s physically difficult, mind you. I didn’t have a bad attitude). Once again, I was asked to lie on a patient bed, keep my feet up, relax and place a heating pad on my arm to promote blood flow. I remembered to drink plenty of water amd there were no problems this time.
|Emily Caldwell science writer and co-editor|