We typically associate pumpkins with autumn—Jack-o-lanterns on Halloween, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, scrumptious pumpkin pies for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. You probably need at least a bit of fairy dust and a blessing from your godmother to transform a pumpkin into a carriage until midnight, but there are other year-round advantages offered by this plant that you can enjoy for a variety of reasons. The cold-pressed oil from pumpkin seeds, brimming with a spectrum of nutrients, has won a place for itself on the kitchen shelf and in the bathroom basket of cosmetics.
A to E: Vitamins for the skin…
The high dose of Vitamin A found in pumpkin seed oil can increase the efficiency and speed of healing wounds; a study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology illustrated that a deficiency of this vitamin in the body can stunt our inherent internal repair mechanism, while supplementation can actually restore the retarded repair and is particularly important in macrophagic inflammations.[i] Vitamins A and E found within pumpkin seed oil also help to fight free radicals, thereby reducing signs of premature aging. As an organic moisturizer, pumpkin seed oil can work wonders without the toxic compounds found in most commercialized lotions and creams. Due to its inclusion of the compounds L-lysine, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, pumpkin seed oil can furthermore improve hair growth and health, with iron and L-lysine especially instrumental for preventing hair loss.[ii]
- Mix up a bit of pumpkin seed oil, butter, and a well-beaten egg and apply 10-15 minutes on your face until it dries; rinse off with cool water and enjoy all the naturally emolliating properties of the oil’s minerals, nutrients, and omega-3s.
- Massage your hair and scalp with a few drops of pumpkin seed oil; leave it in overnight and rinse it off the following day.
Antioxidants to fight cancer…
While not a cure in and of itself, pumpkin seed oil has been shown to support the health of cancer patients while also promoting a reduced risk of certain cancers. The German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg has illustrated the association between the increased consumption of dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake—especially rich in pumpkin and sunflower seeds—and a reduced risk for postmenopausal breast cancer.[iii] A second German study at the University of Rostock recently discovered that phytoestrogen extracts isolated from pumpkin seeds have a controversial effect on hormone-dependent tumors, highlighting a potential powerful role of pumpkin seed oil to prevent or treat breast cancer.[iv] Indiana University’s Cancer Research Laboratory also found that pumpkin seeds rank highly as anti-cancer dietary supplements associated with inhibited prostate cancer.[v]
Magnesium for the heart…
Researchers from Brigham Young University found that proper supplementation of magnesium—a primary component of pumpkin seed oil—may prove very effective in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, with no reported adverse effects. [vi] Brimming in iron and proteins, pumpkin seed oil is a surefire ingredient for an energy-boosting snack. Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and free from soy, gluten, starch, sugar, and lactose, it can serve as a delicious nutty additive for any salad, soup, or savory dish.
For a pre-workout protein-rich smoothie:
- 5 cups of rice or soy milk
- 2 cups ice
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
- 2 tsp. peanut butter
- 4 tbsp. flax seeds
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup raw almonds
- 4 tbsp. protein powder (optional)
- Stevia (sweeten to taste; optional)
For a sweet green breakfast smoothie:
- ½ frozen banana (optional: also add ½ avocado, handful of green grapes, or 1 peeled kiwi)
- 1 ½ frozen oranges
- 1 cup coconut water (can substitute with 1 cup apple juice for sweeter flavor, or substitute with 1 cup almond milk for creamier texture)
- 1 tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
- 1 cup leafy greens (i.e. spinach)
- Pinch of raw ginger (microplaned)
Phytoestrogens and macromolecules for cholesterol and blood pressure levels…
Phytoestrogens and the other hypoglycemic properties of pumpkin seed oil can aid in maintaining the body’s proper levels of glucose and thus can help to prevent diabetes. Researchers at the University of Nottingham forecasted that by 2030, the number of people suffering worldwide from diabetes would increase up to 366 million (from 117 million in 2000). They found that the macromolecules within pumpkin seeds and their extracts (pumpkin seed oil)—particularly trigonelline, nicotinic acid, and D-chiro-inositol—possess hypoglycemic properties that assist in maintaining glycemic control.[vii]
Tryptophan for a good night’s sleep (keep calm and consume pumpkin seed oil!)…
Anxiety can easily give you the jitters; thanks to the cucurbita maxima compound and its rich content of the amino acid L-tryptophan, pumpkin seed oil can help curb social anxiety, improve memory, and help to reduce insomnia. L-tryptophan in particular helps in the creation of serotonin, a chemical which induces more peaceful sleep, pain control, emotional moods, inflammation, intestinal peristalsis, and other body functions.[viii]
Zinc for the immune system and prostrate…
Extensive studies have revealed that pumpkin seed oil may very well be one of the most potent things you can consume for prostate health, given that it is extremely rich in zinc (as are the pumpkin seeds themselves). The oil has been shown to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate, especially in the case of benign prostatic hyperplasia (age-related)[ix]; one specific study conducted in Hungary examined patients with BRH who consumed pumpkin seed oil daily for two months, and with the result of a reduced prostate for one-third of the patients along with 86% of patients reporting improvement with urination difficulties.[x]
Chock-full of carotenoids and liposoluble vitamins, it should come as no surprise that pumpkin seed oil is a reliable champion for illness prevention, with research revealing its effectiveness as a treatment for anxiety, diabetes, and even cancer. Pumpkin seed oil also serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory supplement, as illuminated by a number of studies; one such study conducted by American, Norwegian, and Spanish researchers revealed how switching from a diet heavy with saturated fat to one that incorporates the polyunsaturated fatty acids found in pumpkin seed oil attenuates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis development.
The Essence of Balance
Just a few drops of this smooth nutty liquid in your culinary or beauty routine can result in remarkable benefits. As always, however, consult with an expert before use, and remember that there can always be too much of a good thing (tiny pumpkin seeds pack a lot of calories, for instance, so keep that in mind if you’re watching your weight). Check with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, experience low blood pressure, or have respective plant allergies.