Pumpkin Seed

Cucurbita pepo Cucurbitaceae.

Grown in Central America for at least 9000 years, pumpkin is now cultivated all over the world for its enormous, globular fruit. The name pumpkin derives from 'pepon); a Greek word meaning mellow or sun ripened. A long prickly stem bears large downy leaves and deep yellow funnel-shaped flowers. These are followed by orange fruits containing numerous flat white seeds.

Seeds and fruit flesh
The flesh is eaten fresh, or dried for medicinal use.
The seeds may be hulled and eaten whole, crushed for their oil or used in tinctures.

The flesh is a good source of beta carotene and contains vitamin E both cancer-fighting antioxidants. The seeds contain around 30 per cent unsaturated oil – mainly linoleic acid, and are rich in iron, phosphorus and zinc – known to benefit prostate problems and acne.

Pumpkin seed is prescribed to treat ailments of the prostate gland. In particular, the seeds' combination of high zinc content and diuretic effect makes it a good remedy for noncancerous prostate enlargement. And a Swedish clinical trial found that a substance called curbicin, obtained from pumpkin seeds and dwarf palms, noticeably improved the symptoms of enlarged prostate.

Pumpkin seed oil is also reputed to be beneficial in ailments of the urinary system. A paper published in 1994 in the journal of Tongji Medical University describes the effectiveness of the seed oil in improving the function of the bladder and urethra. Pumpkin seeds have long been used to get rid of roundworms. The seeds are still a popular de-worming remedy, especially for children,as they are nontoxic and safe. A Taiwanese study looking at purging the body of tapeworms (Taenia saginata) found a combination of pumpkin seeds and areca nuts to be safe and effective: the amino acid cucurbitine has known taeniacide (antitapeworm) properties.

Egyptian research published in 1995 found that pumpkin seed oil improved arthritic conditions, while a decoction of the seeds is used to remedy intestinal inflammation. Pumpkin flesh is high in fibre and acts as a gentle laxative. For external use, the flesh can be pulped and applied as a poultice to treat burns, while the oil is a soothing emollient.

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