The seeds of the pumpkin, botanical name Curcurbita pepo, are best known as a healthy fall snack. Nutritionally, the seeds contain essential fatty acids, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and beta-carotene. They are also a good source of fiber. Preliminary studies from China and Russia have shown the protein in pumpkin seeds, called cucurbitin, to be effective at resolving tapeworm infestations. Two studies from Thailand found that eating pumpkin seeds as a snack can help prevent the most common type of kidney stone by reducing levels of substances that promote stone formation.
Pumpkin seed oil, also called Kuerbiskernoel, is extracted from the seeds of the Styrian pumpkin grown in Austria and Slovenia. It is also said to be an effective diuretic, and is sometimes used to relieve urinary tract infections. Two studies found the oil to be beneficial for relief of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by improving the function of the bladder and urethra. Pumpkin oil has a high tryptophan content that may be useful in the treatment of insomnia.
Pumpkin seed oil has been used in combination with saw palmetto in two double blind human studies to effectively reduce symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Researchers have suggested that the zinc, free fatty acid, or plant sterol content of pumpkin seeds might account for their benefit in men with BPH. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed extracts can improve the function of the bladder and urethra, this might partially account for BPH symptom relief.
Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil is as potent as the drug indomethacin at relieving chronic rheumatoid arthritis. It is likely that this effect is due to the essential fatty acid profile, rich antioxidant content, and the synergistic effects of other minor components. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to have high levels of vitamin E, including all forms of the tocopherol family i.e. alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherol, along with the tocotrienols.
Cucurbitin is an amino acid that has shown anti-parasitic activity in vitro. Human studies conducted in China have shown pumpkin seeds to be helpful for people with acute schistosomiasis, a severe parasitic disease occurring primarily in Asia and Africa that is transmitted through snails.
Pumpkin seed oil has been concurrently used with cholesterol lowering drugs and would appear to potentiate the overall lipid lowering effects. The positive effects on lowering LDL levels and increasing HDL levels are most likely due to the antioxidant and essential fatty acid content of pumpkin seed oil. Side effects of the cholesterol drug were also reduced when pumpkin seed oil was administered. Similar positive results have been found in concomitant use of pumpkin seed oil with anti-hypertensive medication. The hypotensive action is due to the EFAs and antioxidant capability of PSO.
Pumpkin seeds appear to both reduce levels of substances that promote stone formation in the urine and increase levels of compounds that inhibit stone formation. Some research has demonstrated that PSO could remarkably reduce bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance, and reduce urethral pressure. Dosage One to three teaspoons daily. Best taken with food. Potential applications Rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood lipids and cholesterol, parasitic infestation, BPH, kidney/bladder disorders. Useful in maintaining skin health. The high tryptophan content of the seeds may make the oil useful in cases of insomnia. A nutritious culinary oil.