Modern science is gradually rediscovering the extraordinary therapeutic properties of plants, particularly those which at first appear quite unremarkable. Such is the case with the pumpkin and the oil extracted from its seeds.
This oil has been produced in Europe for over 300 years from the genus Cucurbita pepo, the botanical name for a wide range of cultivars including squash and pumpkin. Ranging in colour from dark green to red, the oil is obtained by pressing the pumpkin’s seeds. It is not suitable for cooking as heating it produces a bitter taste and largely destroys its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the source of its therapeutic benefits.
A review of the scientific data highlights five key properties of pumpkin seed oil.
1. For problems of the prostate
The most widely-researched property of this vegetable oil is undoubtedly its effects on the prostate. This is probably its main benefit and most distinguishing feature. Studies show it may improve benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), as well as prostate cancer and the problems associated with it: reduced urinary flow, bladder compression, urinary discomfort and infections, inflammation and pain when passing water …
This beneficial property may be due to its high content in phytosterols and zinc (the prostate itself has a high zinc content). A supplement specially formulated to address prostate problems, , can also be taken alongside pumpkin seed oil.
2. For the capillaries and skin
Pumpkin seed oil is also used in men to stem hair loss, particularly androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) which causes varying degrees of hair loss on the crown of the scalp. Regular oral supplementation with 1 gram of pumpkin seed oil, together with topical application, produces good results in terms of hair regrowth. These effects are thought to be linked to its hormonal activity.
Pumpkin seed oil is not only good for the hair but for the skin too, as a result of the antioxidant properties of the oil’s fatty acids. Topical application thus helps reduce skin inflammation and promotes new cell growth. It also contains beneficial levels of , a nutrient widely-known for its anti-wrinkle action and recognised anti-ageing effects.
3. For the circulation
Pumpkin seed oil also has anti-coagulant properties and thus stimulates circulation in the limbs and reduces risk factors for blood clots.
4. For hormones
The naturally high phytoestrogen content of pumpkin seed oil is the reason it is recommended for menopausal women. It helps reduce hot flushes, headaches, joint pain, menstrual cramps and mood changes, and at the same time increases levels of ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol.
5. For the cardiovascular system
Pumpkin seed oil is very high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the health benefits of which are well-established. These PUFAs include oleic and linoleic acids which help to reduce hypertension and balance cholesterol levels, as well as addressing problems related to atherosclerosis, various heart conditions and even stroke.
Consuming pumpkin seeds themselves boosts these beneficial effects because they contain magnesium which is essential for the formation of ATP, and the synthesis of DNA and RNA.
Are there any contraindications related to pumpkin seed oil?
Yes, but they are minor:
• You should not exceed 1 gram of oral supplementation per 24 hour period.
• Applying undiluted oil to the skin may cause slight irritation.
• If you’re on medication for high blood pressure, consult your doctor before taking this oil.
• It may cause dermatitis or swollen eyelids in highly allergic individuals.
• You should ideally choose gastro-resistant capsules (softgels) as rancidity of the oil may cause stomach problems.
• These minor side-effects are rare and should not deter you from taking this natural, easy-to-take, multi-beneficial supplement.
Adults. Take 2 softgels a day.