Tuesday, September 16, 2008

PUMPKIN SEED - Cucurbita Pepo (Medicinal Herbs)

Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in the Americas and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds (the squashes, pumpkins and marrows, and the chilacayote), as well as some species grown only as gourds. They have bicollateral vascular bundles. Many North and Central American species are visited by specialist pollinators in the apid group Eucerini, especially the genera Peponapis and Xenoglossa, and these bees can be very important for fruit set.

Botanical Source.

Cucurbita Pepo (common name: Pumpkin seed) is an annual plant, hispid and scabrous, with a procumbent stem and branching tendrils. Its leaves are large, cordate, palmately 5-lobed, or angled and denticulate. The flowers are yellow large, axillary, and the males long-pedunculate. Corolla campanulate; the petals united and coherent with the calyx. The calyx of the male flowers is 5-toothed; of the female the same, the upper part being deciduous after flowering; the stigmas are 3, thick, and 2-lobed; the pepo, or fruit, subligneous, very large, roundish, or oblong, smooth, yellow when ripe, furrowed and torulose, containing yellowish seeds, somewhat resembling those of the watermelon in form (W.).

History.

The pumpkin flowers in July, and matures its fruit in September and October. It is a native of the Levant, and is extensively cultivated as a kitchen vegetable, and for cattle. The seeds of this plant are used in medicine, and have long been popular with the laity as a remedy for worms. An oil may be obtained from the pumpkin seeds by expression. The West India seeds are more active as an anthelmintic than our own.

Description.

The seeds are "about 2 Cm. (4/5 inch) long, broadly-ovate, flat, white or whitish, nearly smooth, with a shallow groove parallel to the edge; containing a short, conical radicle, and 2 flat cotyledons; inodorous; taste bland and oily"—(U. S. P.).

Chemical Composition.

Pumpkin seeds are composed of 25 per cent of husks and 75 per cent of kernels, and contain upward of 33 per cent of a reddish fixed oil, which, according to Kopylow (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1877, p. 23), consists of the glycerides of palmitic, myristic, and oleic acids. These also occur partly in the free state. No alkaloid was found in the seeds, nor the glucosid, cucurbitin, of Dorner and Wolkowitsch (1870). According to Dr. L. Wolff (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1882, p. 382), the active (taenifuge) principle is a greenish-brown, acrid, bitter resin (Heckel, 1875) not contained in the petroleum-benzin extract of the seeds, but in the extract obtained with ether. It is also soluble in alcohol and chloroform. Its dose, as a taenifuge, is 15 grains, in pill form. The fatty oil is soluble in absolute, but not in 95 per cent alcohol (W. E. Miller, ibid., 1891, p. 385). Air-dried pumpkin seeds contain about 3.7 per cent of ash. The juice of pumpkin pulp contains 1.6 per cent of dextrose and 0.9 per cent of cane sugar (Mr. Both, in Dragendorff's Heilpflanzen, 1899, p. 650). The coloring matter of the pumpkin is due to carotene (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1896, p. 84).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.

Mucilaginous, taenicide, and diuretic, and of service in strangury and urinary affections, also in gastritis, enteritis, and febrile diseases. The infusion may be drank freely. The expressed oil of the pumpkin seeds, in doses of 6 to 12 drops, several times a day, is said to be a most certain and efficient diuretic, giving quick relief in scalding of urine, spasmodic affections of the urinary passages, and has cured gonorrhoea.

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.

* ANTI-ARTHRITIC - 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.

* PROSTATE FUNCTION - 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 (BPH). 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.

* ANTI-PARASITIC - 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. Preliminary human research conducted in China and Russia has shown pumpkin seeds can assist with resolving tapeworm infestations.

* CHOLESTEROL LOWERING - Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) 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 PSO. Side effects of the cholesterol drug were also reduced when PSO was administered. Similar positive results have been found in concomitant use of PSO with anti-hypertensive medication. The hypotensive action is due to the EFAs and antioxidant capability of PSO.

* KIDNEY FUNCTION - Two studies in Thailand have demonstrated that eating pumpkin seeds as a snack can help prevent the most common type of kidney stone. 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.

Pumpkin Seeds Commercial Supplements

Chinese Raw Pumpkin Seeds - NOW Pumpkin Seeds are a healthy snack that can be enjoyed all year long. This wonderful source of nutrients is naturally rich in essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, zinc, protein, and fiber.

Pumpkin Seed Oil - Pumpkin Seed Oil is a nutritional oil rich in essential fatty acids. Most pumpkin seed oil are 100% natural and are screened for potency and purity.

Anti Parasite Formula - A regular natural detoxification program including Anti Parasite Formula and a colon cleanser to promote proper elimination has been recommended by various naturopaths.

Pumpkin seed in cosmetics and combating fine lines

Pumpkin seed oil is a highly nourishing and lubricating oil, and is useful for all skin types. It is especially good if used to combat fine lines and superficial dryness and to prevent moisture loss.

African Cucurbita pepo L.: properties of seed and variability in fatty acid composition of seed oil

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seeds are used locally in Eritrea to treat tapeworm. Seeds were found to be rich in oil (not, vert, similar35%), protein (38%), α-tocoferols (3 mg/100 g) and carbohydrate content (not, vert, similar37%).


Traditional Uses Of Pumpkin Seed (Cucurbita Pepo)

Pumpkin seed is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, and through scientific investigation most of the properties have been validated.

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.

It is also used to reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but DOES NOT help to reduce an enlarged prostate.

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