Pumpkin seed oil is a remarkably powerful source of health benefits which include its ability to improve heart health, aid in skin care, improve circulation, strengthen the bones, and relieve depression. It is also good for stimulating hair growth, eliminating inflammation, balancing hormones, and protecting the prostate.
What is Pumpkin Seed Oil?
Pumpkin seed oil is derived from the unhusked seeds of pumpkin and has been traditionally made in parts of Europe for more than 300 years. Cucurbita pepo is the scientific name of pumpkins, but there are dozens of cultivars and subspecies from which this oil is now made.
The oil is pressed from these seeds and is then used for a wide variety of culinary, and medicinal applications, and is now available in many parts of the world. The oil is either a dark green or a deep red, depending on the thickness of the oil, but when the oil begins to brown, it takes on a bitter taste.
In culinary applications, it is used as a salad dressing, in desserts, or even added to soups and stews for a nutty sweetness. However, due to its low smoke point, it is not used as a cooking oil. Heating the oil would neutralize the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are found in significant quantities in this oil, including oleic, linoleic, palmitic, stearic, linolenic and other fatty acids. These active ingredients provide the majority of health benefits associated with this oil.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil
Using pumpkin seed oil can benefit people dealing with poor blood circulation, anxiety, stress, depression, hair loss, inflammatory conditions, hormonal imbalances, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, various skin conditions and osteoporosis.
Losing your hair is a sure sign of aging, but for people who are balding at a young age, studies have shown that regular use of pumpkin oil can stimulate hair growth considerably.
Improves Heart Health
Pumpkin seed oil has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fats of any food source. While fats are usually associated with being unhealthy, the body actually requires a certain amount of good fats to function. The oleic and linoleic acids found in pumpkin seeds can help lower blood pressure and balance cholesterol levels, protecting against atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and other heart diseases.
Prevents Prostate Cancer
As men age, an enlarged prostate can often make urination painful or difficult and can increase their chances of developing prostate cancer. Fortunately, research on pumpkin seed oil has shown that it can improve urine flow and decrease inflammation of the prostate, thereby protecting men against one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
The fatty acids found in pumpkin seed oil boast antioxidant properties. When it is topically applied, it is known to reduce skin inflammation, stimulate the growth of new cells, defend against infections and oxidative stress in skin cells, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes related to age. Pumpkin seed oil is also a rich source of vitamin E, which has powerful effects on skin appearance and texture.
The anticoagulant nature of pumpkin seed oil helps stimulate circulation by eliminating sluggish blood, lowering the risk of blood clots, and improving oxygenation of organs, which further boosts their function.
Relieves Anxiety & Depression
Anecdotal evidence shows that regular consumption of pumpkin seed oil can relieve depression and boost your mood by lowering the levels of stress hormone in the body. You can consume small amounts of pumpkin seed oil to enjoy this benefit, or apply the oil to your temples, neck or chest.
Women who are menstruating or going through menopause are suggested to use pumpkin seed oil as it helps reduce associated symptoms. It aids in reducing severe menstrual cramps and decreasing hot flashes. This is primarily due to the phytoestrogens and phytosterols present in it.
Increases Bone Strength
Omega-6 fatty acids, found in a significant amount in pumpkin seed oil, are known to support bone health, in addition to the other vitamins and minerals that are needed to prevent osteoporosis and ensure good bone mineral density as we age.
Side Effects of Pumpkin Seed Oil
The side effects of using pumpkin seed oil include gastrointestinal distress, skin inflammation, and heart issues, but generally speaking, very few are reported.
If used in appropriate amounts or diluted, pumpkin seed oil is safe and does not have any toxicities.
For internal consumption, no more than two teaspoons per day (800mg) are required for the therapeutic benefits of this oil; most people find that consuming 1 teaspoon per day is adequate.
- Skin Irritation: Pumpkin seed oil is a very potent and powerful substance that can have notable effects on the body, which can sometimes manifest as irritation, redness or swelling of the skin. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to put a small amount of this oil on the skin and wait for a few hours to see if any reaction occurs.
- Allergies: As with any concentrated oil from a plant or herb, an allergy to pumpkins means that you should stay away from this oil, as it can cause everything from topical dermatitis and swollen lips to more severe stomach issues and vomiting.
- Blood Pressure: The antioxidants and polyunsaturated fats found in pumpkin seed oil can help lower blood pressure, which is excellent for people concerned with their heart health. However, if you are already taking hypotensive medication, the combination can result in dangerously low blood pressure.
- Quality Issues: Pumpkin seed oil is quite susceptible to temperature and sunlight, which can hamper its quality. Normal shelf life is no more than 1 year, and when used past this point, it can result in stomach upset and gastrointestinal problems.