Pumpkin seed oil is a remarkably powerful source of health benefits including the ability to improve heart health, boost the appearance of your skin, improve circulation, strengthen the bones, prevent depression, stimulate hair growth, eliminate inflammation, balance hormones and protect the prostate. There are also a few side effects to using pumpkin seed oil, such as gastrointestinal distress, dangerously low blood pressure, and skin irritation, as well as unintended side effects for people who are allergic to pumpkins. For the majority of people, this versatile oil can provide a significant boost to their overall health, when used responsibly.
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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 taxonomic 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 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 such 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 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 one sure sign of aging, but for men who are balding, studies have shown that regular use of pumpkin oil can stimulate hair growth by a considerable amount, helping to keep you look young, regardless of how old you are!
Improves Heart Health
Pumpkin seed oil has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fats of any food source, and while fats are usually associated with being unhealthy, the body actually requires a certain amount of “good” fats to function normally. 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 heart disease.
Prevents Prostate Cancer
As men age, an enlarged prostate can often make urination painful or difficult and can increase your 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, protect men against one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
The anti-inflammatory properties of pumpkin seed oil are well known, and when it comes to treating arthritis, the high content of fatty acids in this oil will aid joint lubrication and reduce the pain and discomfort associated with this chronic disease.
The fatty acids found in pumpkin seed oil also boast antioxidant properties, so when this oil 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 generally improve 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 will stimulate circulation by eliminating sluggish blood, lowering the risk of blood clots and improving oxygenation of extremities and organ systems, which will further boost their function.
Relieves Anxiety & Depression
Although the research is limited, some anecdotal evidence shows that regular consumption of this oil can improve feelings of depression and boost mood by lowering stress hormone levels 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.
When this powerful oil is used by women who are menstruating or going through menopause, a reduction in symptoms has been documented, including less severe menstrual cramps, less noticeable mood shifts and a decrease in hot flashes. This is primarily due to the phytoestrogens and phytosterols present in pumpkin seed oil.
Increases Bone Strength
Omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in significant numbers within 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
Some of the side effects of using pumpkin seed oil include gastrointestinal distress, possible skin inflammation, and heart issues, but generally speaking, very few side effects are reported. If used in appropriate amounts, or diluted if necessary, pumpkin seed oil is safe and does not have any known 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 on the skin. For people with sensitive skin, it is best to put a small amount of this oil on a patch skin and wait a few hours to see if a reaction occurs before applying it to a larger area.
- 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 to 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. Furthermore, some manufacturers use lower-quality filler oils in their pumpkin seed oil compositions, which can lower the efficacy and cause unintended side effects.