Habitat & Cultivation : Probably native to North America, pumpkin is now found worldwide. It is harvested in autumn.
Parts Used : Seeds, pulp.
Constituents : Pumpkin seeds are rich in fixed oil, comprising 30-50% of their composition. This oil is primarily composed of linoleic acid (43-56%) and oleic acid (24-38%). Additionally, the oil contains protein (31-51%), sterols, cucurbitin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and minerals (4-5%), including notable levels of iron, zinc, and selenium.
History & Folklore : The pumpkin has a long history of medicinal use in Central and North America. The Maya, for instance, applied the plant’s sap to treat burns, while the Menominee utilized the seeds as a diuretic. European settlers took a different approach, grinding and combining the seeds with water, milk, or honey to create a remedy for worms. This home remedy gained such popularity across North American households that the medical profession eventually embraced it as a standard treatment.
Medicinal Actions & Uses : Pumpkin has traditionally served as a safe and effective deworming agent, particularly suitable for children and pregnant women who may find strong and toxic preparations unsuitable. It is believed to be particularly effective in eliminating tapeworms. The seeds possess diuretic properties and act as a tonic for the bladder, with specific value in addressing the early stages of prostate enlargement.
Moreover, the fruit pulp is utilized as a decoction to alleviate intestinal inflammation, and it is applied topically as a poultice or plaster for burns. The versatility of pumpkin in various medicinal applications highlights its historical significance in diverse therapeutic contexts.
Research : The diverse array of medicinal and nutritional compounds found in pumpkin seeds establishes their significant value as a “natural” food supplement. As an excellent dietary source of zinc, these seeds also boast elevated levels of selenium, a mineral recognized for its vital antioxidant and anticancer properties in the body. Cucurbitin, present in the seeds, acts as a deterrent to intestinal worms, and the sterols contribute anti-inflammatory effects.
Research indicates that pumpkin seeds are effective in assisting the reduction of benign enlargement of the prostate gland (BPH). This efficacy is attributed to the combined hormonal influence of the sterols and their anti-inflammatory activity. Notably, in a clinical trial, the combination of pumpkin seeds with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) for BPH treatment resulted in improved urine flow and reduced frequency of urination among participants taking the herbal extract.