Over a century ago, American farmers noted that when their livestock munched on pumpkin seeds, they seemed to urinate more often. They weren’t the first to notice the seeds’ effects. The Iroquois had long used pumpkin seed as a diuretic, and the Cherokee gave it to children to control bed-wetting, since it seemed to help empty the bladder before falling asleep.
More recently, Europeans began using the bright green oil from crushed pumpkin seeds for prostate health, and in Germany today, the oil is an approved over-the-counter treatment for enlarged prostate glands. In the U.S. too, the oil is one of the top ingredients in herbal blends for prostate health, says Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit group based in Austin, Texas, and backed by herbal supplement makers.
Subtly sweet and nutty with a malleable, chewy texture, the roasted seeds from inside your Halloween pumpkin are one of the most nutritious and flavorful seeds around. While pumpkin seeds are available year round, they are the freshest in the fall when pumpkins are in season.
Pumpkin seeds contain fatty acids with linoleic acid being the main component, but also contains various plant sterols and sterol glycosides, a cyclic non-protein amino acid, cucurbitine, as well as tocopherols.
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc, iron and copper. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and vitamin K.
What are Pumpkin seeds are used for the most?
· It is used as an anthelmintic (to expels intestinal worms), taeniacide (killing tapeworms), as a diuretic, to treat bed-wetting in children and facilitate the passage of urine, while soothing an irritated bladder.
· Against cadmium toxicity
· To treat pulmonary ailments
· Depression Treatment: They contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
· Natural Anti-Inflammatory for Arthritis sufferers. Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
· Lower Cholesterol: Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
· Acrodermatitis enteropathica: Acrodermatitis enteropathica is a rare inherited disorder that results in the inability to absorb adequate amounts of zinc from the diet. Anyone who is severely zinc deficient can develop the symptoms of the inherited form of this disorder. Pumpkin seeds, pecans, and Brazil nuts are all high in zinc. However, people with acrodermatitis enteropathica also need to take zinc supplements.
· Kidney Stones: Two studies have found that eating pumpkin seeds as a snack can help prevent the most common type of kidney stone, called a calcium oxalate stone. Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seeds appear to reduce levels of substances that promote stone formation in the urine and increase levels of substances that inhibit stone formation. The active constituents of pumpkin seeds responsible for this action have not been identified.
Clinical studies employing pumpkin seeds agains Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Back in the 1960s, a few German studies showed that taking 5 to 15 grams of pumpkin seeds daily for up to a year improved symptoms in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, an age-related enlargement of the prostate gland known as BPH. Symptoms include urinating more frequently, a weak or hesitant urinary stream and urinary leaking.
Studies on the subject since the 1960s have been few and far between, but most of them do appear to support those initial findings. In 1990, Swedish researchers gave either a blend of pumpkin seeds and saw palmetto or a placebo to 53 men with BPH. They found that those who received the seed-based treatment were more likely to report stronger urinary flow and less frequent urination compared with those who didn’t receive the treatment. The results were reported in the British Journal of Urology.
In another study, published in a German journal in 1998, more than 2,000 men with BPH took between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of a pumpkin seed oil extract daily for three months. By the study’s end, the men’s average frequency of daytime urination decreased from 6.7 times to 5.2 times, and the average frequency of nighttime urination fell from 2.7 to 1.3 times.
A third study, published in another German journal in 2000, randomly selected among about 500 men to take either 1,000 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil extract or a placebo every day for 12 months. Symptoms improved in 65% of the men who took the oil, which the researchers interpreted as a promising (and statistically significant) result, even though symptoms also improved in 54% of the men who took the placebo.
In a multi-center controlled study involving more than two thousand subjects, a product containing pumpkin seeds was evaluated for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). The results indicated that, not only were pumpkin seeds effective in reducing symptoms associated with BPH, especially in its early stages, but also no side effects of note were reported by the patients involved in the trial (Friederich et al., 2000). In a Swedish study involving 53 patients, pumpkin seed reduced symptoms related to BPH, without any side effects (Carbin et al. 1990). Other clinical trials also show that pumpkin seeds, along with other herbs, have a positive effect against mild to moderate BPH (Bracher, 1997).
Pumpkin seed oil has shown to possess strong antioxidant properties in animal experiments (Fahim et al., 1995). The constituents in pumpkin seed extracts have reduce bladder pressure in rabbits (Zhang et al., 1994). Clinical research in Thailand has shown that pumpkin seeds increase the level of inhibitors of crystal formation or aggregation that reduce the risk of bladder stone disease (urolithiasis) (Suphiphat et al., 1993; Suphakarn et al., 1987).
Anti-Inflammatory Benefits in Arthritis
The healing properties of pumpkin seeds have also been recently investigated with respect to arthritis. In animal studies, the addition of pumpkin seeds to the diet has compared favorably with use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in reducing inflammatory symptoms. Importantly, though, pumpkin seeds did not have one extremely unwanted effect of indomethacin: unlike the drug, pumpkin seeds do not increase the level of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the linings of the joints, a side-effect that actually contributes to the progression of arthritis.
How to use
To expel intestinal worms a preparation is made as follows: grind 200-400 g of dried unpeeled seeds into a pulp, mix with milk and honey until a porridge-like consistency and take on an empty stomach in the morning, followed by castor oil 2-3 hours later. Repeat the next morning.
Pumpkin seed oil can be taken internally (10 drops three times a day) for urinary tract infections, as well as boosting the health of the lungs and mucus membranes. Take for four weeks.
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