Herb Reference Guide

Pumpkin

History

Pumpkins are the harbingers of fall. Thoughts of them conjure jack-o-lanterns, pies; even a pumpkin spiced late comes to mind. Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops in the United States with 1.5 billion pounds taking up 75,000 acres of cultivated soil each year. There are several plants in the genus, squash, gourds, cantaloupes, and cucumbers. Pumpkins originated in America. Fragments of stems, seeds, and fruits have been identified and recovered from cliff dweller ruins in the southwestern United States. Some pumpkin varieties may have originated in Mexico and Central America, while others probably developed in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. Some of these pumpkin and squash varieties probably have been cultivated as long as maize (corn), since around 3500 B.C. The seeds are known as pepitas and are extracted for their nutritious oil, made into a "butter", and roasted or dried and sold for whole consumption.

Function

Pumpkin seed oil has appreciable amounts of essential fatty acids, 47% of linoleic acid (omega-6) and nearly 0.5% of alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), which are the precursors of prostaglandins, which are hormone like substances that have a variety of functions like contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles, control of blood pressure, pain and inflammatory response, in humans and animals. Pumpkin seeds also contain the antioxidant nutrients Zinc and Vitamin E, both known to support healthy prostate function.

Uses of Pumpkin

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Manganese, Tryptophan, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper, Protein, Zinc, Iron, Vitamins; A, beta-carotene, B1, B2, B3, Niacin, B6, vitamin C, E, K, Folate, Phyto-Sterols, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Omega 6 Fatty Acids.

Parts Used

  • Seed oil

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Michael, Orsolek D., George L. Greaser, and Jayson K. Harper. “Pumpkin Production.” Agricultural Alternatives (2000). Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, 19 Feb. 2008