Scientific Name: Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima
Common Name: autumn squash, butternut squash, China squash, crookneck squash, summer squash, and the famous Halloween squash
History of Use
The earliest confirmed record of oil pumpkin seeds is in Styria (from the estate of a farmer in Gleinstätten) which dates back to February 18, 1697. The viscous oil is light to very dark green to dark red in colour depending on the thickness of the observed sample. The oil appears green in thin layer and red in thick layer (Wikipedia Contributors, 2015).
Pumpkin seed oil has an intense nutty taste and is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Traditionally, this has been used in the prevention and treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Pumpkin is an edible fruit found in the American and European continents and is grown in Asia and Africa. The extract of the seed is a rich source of vitamins, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and microelements.
Among its unique multitude of health benefits, pumpkin seeds standout for their ability to effectively treat an overactive bladder, a condition characterized by a sudden urge to urinate that may lead to an involuntary loss of urine. Although an overactive bladder poses no threat to overall health, it has been shown to reduce quality of life. The oil extracted from Cucurbita pepo has been useful for the treatment of urinary disorders. In previous reports, the effect of the pumpkin seed oil from C. pepo has been investigated in clinical trials involving over 2000 men suffering from BPH. The oil significantly improved their urinary dysfunction. In an animal study, it was demonstrated that oil from the pumpkin seed of C. pepo inhibited testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of rats (Gossell-Williams M, 2006).
Pumpkin seeds modulate several cardiovascular disease risk factors. In a recent study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, researchers found that rats induced with atherosclerosis and supplemented with pumpkin seeds for 37 days experienced not only significant increases in protective HDL cholesterol but also a 47% decrease in total cholesterol and a 78% reduction in LDL cholesterol (Abuelgassim & Al-Showayman, 2011). The study was designed to check the effect of pumpkin seed supplementation on the concentrations of cholesterol against the effect of L-arginine supplementation. Findings suggest that pumpkin seeds supplementation has a protective effect against atherogenic rats and this protective effect was not attributed to the high arginine concentrations in pumpkin seeds. This has been associated to the high phytosterol content in pumpkin seeds, having the third highest phytosterol content among nuts and seeds commonly consumed as snacks.
Pumpkin seed oil has also shown powerful antioxidant properties that might ease inflammation associated with arthritic symptoms. In a study published in the journal Pharmacology Research, rats induced with arthritis showed significant increased levels of inflammation that were reduced when administered pumpkin seed oil; results that compared favorably to when the rats received the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin. Furthermore, the indomethacin-supplemented rats experienced increased levels of liver lipid peroxidation, an indicator of liver injury, whereas the pumpkin seed oil group experienced no side effects (Gamonski, 2012).
Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc, all overlooked minerals in optimizing bone health and preventing osteoporosis. They are also abundant in tryptophan, an amino acid which might help alleviate anxiety. Studies have also been performed which proved pumpkin seed oil to be beneficial to male pattern hair loss without the itchiness, scaling and breast enlargement side effects from treatments like minoxidil and finasteride.
How to Get your Pumpkin Seed Oil On
Pumpkin seed oil serves as a salad dressing when combined with honey or olive oil. The typical Styrian dressing consists of pumpkin seed oil and cider vinegar. The oil is also used for desserts, giving ordinary vanilla ice cream a nutty taste. Using it as a cooking oil, however, destroys its essential fatty acids.
Pumpkin seed is also available in the market ready to be munched as snacks. You can even roast them yourself. Pop them in the oven for twenty minutes and enjoy a healthy snack which you can sprinkle on yogurt, pancake, oatmeal, salads, soup or pretty much anything for that added texture and health boost.Click here to take advantage of all the benefits of pumpkin seed oil in convenient 1000mg softgel form
Below is the suggested dosage for different health issues (Drugsite Trust, n.d.):
- To effectively lower cholesterol, 2 grams of pumpkin seed oil should be taken daily.
- For the treatment of BPH, studies have been conducted using at least 160mg three times daily.
- For the prevention of kidney stones, 5-10 grams of pumpkin seed snacks could help.
Who Should Not Take Pumpkin Seed Oil
If you are taking lithium, talk with your healthcare provider before using this product as pumpkin interacts with lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed. Taking pumpkin might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects (WebMD, n.d.).
Abuelgassim, A., & Al-Showayman, S. (2011, October). The effect of pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L) seeds and L-arginine supplementation on serum lipid concentrations in atherogenic rats. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, pp. 131-137.
Drugsite Trust. (n.d.). Pumpkin. Retrieved from Drugsite Trust Web Site: http://www.drugs.com/npp/pumpkin.html
Gamonski, W. (2012, October). The True Potency Of The Pumpkin Seed. Life Extension Magazine.
Gossell-Williams M, D. A. (2006). Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of Sprague-Dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil. Journal of Medicinal Food, pp. 284-286.
WebMD. (n.d.). Pumpkin . Retrieved from WebMD Web site.