Pumpkin Seed oil and extract prostate information, health benefit and side effects by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 12 2014

Pumpkin-seed oil is a natural supplement rich with antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The content of vitamin E, especially gamma-tocopherol, is very high. The oil content of the pumpkin seed is about 50%. The four dominant fatty acids are palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids. These four fatty acids make up 98 % of the total amount of fatty acids. If you would like a prostate formula that has several herbs and nutrients used for prostate health, see Prostate Power Rx. Some users report a mild sexual enhancement with this product. You may also consider signing up to a free health newsletter sent by email once or twice a month. I will discuss new pumpkin seed research as it becomes available.

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Numerous species of the Cucurbita genus are native to North America. Their fruits (mostly squash) have long been used for food, and their seeds for healing. Well-known Cucurbita species include autumn squash, butternut squash, China squash, crookneck squash, summer squash, and the famous Halloween squash and adornment: the pumpkin (C. pepo). For information on pumpkins and their nutritional value.

Cholesterol influence
Climacteric. 2011. Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.

Efficacy of simvastatin and pumpkin-seed oil in the management of dietary-induced hypercholesterolemia.
Pharmacol Res. 1997. Pharmacology and Biochemistry Departments, Faculty of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Pumpkin seed oil was given in combination with simvastatin, as cholesterol lowering drug, to high cholesterol-fed rabbits, for three weeks. In comparison with normal rabbits, a significant increase of the aortic contractile response to norepinephrine was observed which could be attributed to endothelium dysfunction. In addition, serum levels of total lipids, triacylglycerols, total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) were increased while phospholipids and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) were decreased in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. These changes could be related to the predominance of LDL and oxidized-LDL particles caused by high levels of reactive oxygen species during hypercholesterolemia (HC). Treatment with simvastatin modulated most of the altered parameters affected during HC that might be, in part, due to inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis. While concomitant administration of simvastatin and pumpkin seed oil succeeded to cause marked reduction of the aortic contractile response to norepinephrine and to normalize the most adverse effects observed during HC. These effects were explained by the potentiating effects of simvastatin with antioxidants and essential fatty acids in pumpkin seed oil. On the contrary, serum activities of aminotransferases and creatine phosphokinase were increased with simvastatin treatment but not with the combination therapy in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.

Diabetes
J Formos Med Assoc. Nov 2013. Tocopherol from seeds of Cucurbita pepo against diabetes: validation by in vivo experiments supported by computational docking. The results provide pharmacological evidence of CP seed extract as an antihyperglycemic mediated by the interaction of various botanicals with multiple targets operating in diabetes mellitus (DM).

Heart disease and blood pressure
J Med Food. 2012. Antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects of pumpkin seed oil. This study was done in rodents and indicates that it has a blood pressure lowering and cardioprotective effects through a mechanism that may involve generation of nitric oxide.

Pumpkin seed oil and prostate gland enlargement
As of 2013 I have seen only one human study regarding the role of pumpkin seed oil or pumpkin seed extract on prostate gland enlargement. Rodent studies seem to be promising. There is also a study using it in combination with saw palmetto but additional research is required to clarify some of these findings.

Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Nutr Res Pract. 2009.
This study was to investigate the role of complementary and alternative medicine in the prevention and treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. For this purpose, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed over 12 months on 47 benign prostatic hyperplasia patients with average age of 53 years and international prostate symptom score over 8. Subjects received either sweet potato starch (group A, placebo, 320 mg/day), pumpkin seed oil (group B, 320 mg/day), saw palmetto oil (group C, 320 mg/day) or pumpkin seed oil plus saw palmetto oil (group D, each 320 mg/day). International prostate symptom score, quality of life, serum prostate specific antigen, prostate volume and maximal urinary flow rate were measured. In groups B, C and D, the international prostate symptom score were reduced by 3 months. Quality of life score was improved after 6 months in group D, while those of groups B and C were improved after 3 months, compared to the baseline value. Serum prostate specific antigen was reduced only in group D after 3 months, but no difference was observed in prostate volume in all treatment groups. Maximal urinary flow rate were gradually improved in groups B and C, with statistical significance after 6 months in group B and after 12 months in group C. None of the parameters were significantly improved by combined treatment with pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil. From these results, it is suggested that administrations of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil are clinically safe and may be effective as complementary and alternative medicine treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of sprague-dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil.
J Med Food. 2006. Gossell-Williams M, Davis A, O'Connor N. Pharmacology Section, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
The oil from the pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seed is claimed to be useful in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. This investigation seeks to examine the effect of pumpkin seed oil on testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of rats. Hyperplasia was induced by subcutaneous administration of testosterone (0.3 mg/100 g of body weight) for 20 days. Simultaneous oral administration of either pumpkin seed oil (2.0 and 4.0 mg/100 g of body weight) or corn oil (vehicle) was also given for 20 days. On day 21, rats were sacrificed, and the prostate was removed, cleaned, and weighed. The prostate size ratio (prostate weight/rat body weight) was then calculated. Neither testosterone nor pumpkin seed oil had any significant influence on the weight gain of the rats. Testosterone significantly increased prostate size ratio, and this induced increase was inhibited in rats fed with pumpkin seed oil at 2.0 mg/100 g of body weight. The protective effect of pumpkin seed oil was significant at the higher pumpkin seed oil dose. We conclude pumpkin seed oil can inhibit testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate and therefore may be beneficial in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

I am interested in taking the pumpkin seed supplement you have listed on your website but I have general question concerning its use with Low-Testosterone? I am currently on HRT (Testosterone Injections) and I wanted to make sure taking the pumpkin seed wouldn’t inhibit or work against my Injection treatment. Your website research seemed to suggest it may lower a persons testosterone.
   The influence of herbs and natural supplements on blood hormone levels is most often not as potent as pharmaceutical medications. There is research in rodents that pumpkin seed oil may inhibit testosterone-induced growth of the prostate gland, however it is not clear whether pumpkin seed oil supplements would have much of an effect on overall blood testosterone levels. I doubt that it would but I can't be sure.

A source of tryptophan
Gourd seed has a high amount of tryptophan amino acid.

Availability and sale over the counter
Pumpkin seeds can be raw, roasted, autoclaved, germinated, fermented, made into pumpkin protein concentrate and pumpkin protein isolate. Raw pumpkin seeds have more benefit than roasted pumpkin seeds. You can also find pumpkin seed extract which most often is found in prostate health formulas. For prostate saw palmetto information.

Side effects
No major adverse effects have been reported in medical journals.

Benefit of Pumpkin Seed research
Effect of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate on the activity levels of certain plasma enzymes in CCl4-induced liver injury in low-protein fed rats.
Phytother Res. 2005. Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa.
The effects of pumpkin seed (Cucurbita pepo) protein isolate on the activity levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LD), alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced acute liver injury in low-protein fed rats were investigated. A group of male Sprague-Dawley rats maintained on a low-protein diet for 5 days were divided into three subgroups. Two subgroups were injected with carbon tetrachloride and the other group with an equivalent amount of olive oil. Two hours after CCl4 intoxication one of the two subgroups was administered with pumpkin seed protein isolate. All three subgroups of rats were maintained on the low-protein diet for the duration of the investigation. Groups of rats from the different subgroups were killed at 24, 48 and 72 h after their respective treatments. After 5 days on the low-protein diet the activity levels of all four enzymes were significantly higher than their counterparts on a normal balanced diet. CCl4 intoxication resulted in significant increases in the activity levels of all four enzymes investigated. The administration of pumpkin seed protein isolate after CCl4 intoxication resulted in significantly reduced activity levels of all four enzymes. It is concluded that pumpkin seed protein isolate administration was effective in alleviating the detrimental effects associated with protein malnutrition.

Preclinical studies of cucurbita maxima (pumpkin seeds) a traditional intestinal antiparasitic in rural urban areas
Rev Gastroenterol Peru. 2004.  Hospital Nacional Edgardo Rebagliati Martins (HNERM), Lima.
Experimental research was carried out at the Parasitology and Chemistry laboratories of the Jorge Basadre Grohmann National University, in Tacna. The process involved two phases: (1) determination of the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of pumpkin seed as an antiparasitic agent using canine tapeworms with an intestinal isolation of 5 to 6 hours, and (2) determination of the side-effects of pumpkin seed on exposed albino rats. It was found that the MIC of 23 gr. of pumpkin seed in 100 ml. of distilled water can produce an antihelminthic effect.

Pumpkin-seed oil modulates the effect of felodipine and captopril in spontaneously hypertensive rats.
Pharmacol Res. 2000.  Pharmacology Department, Faculty of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Natural products like pumpkin seed oil may modify the potency of the calcium antagonist felodipine (FEL) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-inhibitor), captopril (CPT) in modulating the biochemical derangement in blood, heart and kidney as well as blood pressure and heart rate of spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) were investigated. SHR were treated orally with FEL at a dose of 0. 45 mg kg(-1) body wt. or CPT at a dose of 9 mg kg(-1) body wt. once daily for 4 weeks. Pumpkin seed oil was administered at a dose of 40 mg kg(-1) body wt. alone or with FEL or CPT in the previous respective dose regimen for the same period to SHR. The results were explained in the light of the antioxidant properties of pumpkin seed oil. Therefore, it is concluded that concomitant administration of FEL or CPT with natural antioxidants can yield a beneficial therapeutic effect and retard the progression of hypertension.

Composition and influence with heating or roasting
J Sci Food Agric. 2013. Chemical composition and functional characterisation of commercial pumpkin seed oil. Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Trieste, P.zle Europa, Trieste, Italy. Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seed oil is a common product in Slovenia, Hungary and Austria and is considered a preventive agent for various pathologies, particularly prostate diseases. These properties are related to its high content of carotenoids and liposoluble vitamins. In this study the carotenoid (lutein and zeaxanthin), vitamin E (α- and γ-tocopherol) and fatty acid contents of 12 samples of commercial pumpkin seed oil were investigated together with the composition of the volatile fraction resulting from the roasting process. The aromatic profile obtained from the commercial samples was directly related to the intensity of the roasting process of the crushed pumpkin seeds. The roasting temperature played a crucial role in the concentrations of volatile substances originating from Strecker degradation, lipid peroxidation and Maillard reaction. The findings suggest that high-temperature roasting leads to the production of an oil with intense aromatic characteristics, while mild conditions, generally employed to obtain an oil with professed therapeutic characteristics, lead to a product with minor characteristic pumpkin seed oil aroma. The nutraceutical properties of the product are confirmed by the high content of α- and γ-tocopherol and carotenoids.

Questions
Could you tell me where to purchase pumpkin seed protein isolate.
   You can probably find out doing a google search the several vendors who carry this product.

Is it okay to eat roasted pumpkin seed?
   I much prefer consuming raw pumpkin seed. Roasted pumpkin seed may have some of the fatty acids disturbed by cooking the pumpkin seed in high heat.

Q. Searching for raw pumpkin seed oil, I could only locate one that although not roasted or toasted, is subjected to a process that is called the 'European hydrotherm' and doing so can reach a temperature of 250 -- is this high enough to alter the oils I am using it for in the first place ?
   A. We have not seen research on pumpkin seed oil and European Hydrotherm, however it may be logical to assume that any kind of heating would not be beneficial, although the lower the heat the less of damage to the fatty acids in the pumpkin seed oil.

Q. Do pumpkins seeds have an acidic or alkaline effect on your blood?
   A. We don't know for sure. Probably not much of an effect if consumed in an amount of one or two ounces.

Q. 3 months ago I was diagnosed with Prostatitis / Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. At this point there is not a medication that I can SAFELY take to cure or eliminate the symptoms. Every mediation out there has so many side effects it makes me wonder if wanna live with my symptoms than risk taken them. My most prominent prostatitis symptoms are hesitation and dribbling only in the morning and pain in the pelvic that spreads to the anus. I have been researching for a safe prostate formula and found lots of information on your website. Comparing products sold elsewhere with your Prostate Power Rx I found that you have eliminated the use of Pumpkin seeds powder. I have read many articles on how beneficial the pumpkin seeds are and I am wondering why you did not include in your formula. 
   A. Pumpkin seed oil may be beneficial for prostate health but I have not seen any human studies. Even if pumpkin seed oil extract is included in a prostate formula product, the amount necessary to be effective may not fit in the capsules with the rest of the other important herbs. Plus, it is very easy for people to find raw pumpkin seeds at a grocery store and have a few a day or take a separate pumpkin seed oil extract supplement.

Q. The other night I heard of the immense lycopene content in pumpkin seeds and the beneficial content to the prostate. I am curious as to whether this is an old 'wives' tale or is it actually true?
   A. We searched Medline for " pumpkin seed lycopene " and could not find any such studies regarding lycopene content of pumpkin seeds. There are dozens of beneficial substances in seeds and herbs, and it is best not to focus too much on just one substance.

Q. I have been purchasing Prostate Power Rx. Do you intend to add to this product selenium, zinc and pumpkin seed oil extract?
   A. Zinc and selenium are minerals that accumulate in the body and many people get adequate amounts of these through their multivitamins or their diet. Excess levels of these minerals can be harmful to health. The amount of pumpkin seed extract needed to be effective in human is not well know. The small space in a capsule that already has several others herbs does not allow for pumpkin seed oil to be added in adequate amounts. Furthermore, I am not aware of any extensive human studies that pumpkin seed shrinks an enlarged prostate. And if it does, the required dosage is not known. Not everything can fit in one pill, therefore those who wish to have pumpkin seed oil can buy and use this supplement as an addition to a prostate formula.

Where can I find out how much zinc is in, say, 320 mg of pumpkin seed oil. It is amazing that there are no sites that seem to know or at least say how much zinc in is in a specific amount of pumpkin seed oil. This is important information for people who are taking zinc to know.
    I have not come across any studies regarding the zinc content of pumpkin seed oil, but my guess is that it is minimal since the amount of the oil used is in small amounts and I can't see any major clinical relevance to knowing exactly how much zinc is present.