Everything You Need to Know About Pumpkin Oil
Everybody loves the seasonal treats that we’ve all grown accustomed to when certain months or holidays come around. We eat watermelon in the summer and drink our coffee with peppermint mocha creamer in the winter.
A lot of the foods that have been reduced to a seasonal staple, however, actually have some really significant health benefits that could make a big difference in any natural diet. While some of these treats may only be harvested during certain seasons, there are some that can be purchased as an oil to experience the benefits at any time, all year round.
What Is Pumpkin Oil?
Pumpkin oil, more commonly referred to as pumpkin seed oil, is an oil that comes from the seeds of two types of pumpkins, both of the Cucurbita species: Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita pepo.
The seeds are roasted and pressed to create the oil that has been gaining so much popularity lately for its significant health benefits. Generally speaking, longer roasting times on lower temperatures will result in an oil that is more highly concentrated with antioxidants.
The origin of the pumpkin’s use in medicinal practices traces back to Native American traditions in the 1300s A.D. Over time, pumpkin seeds spread to Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, making their way into the typical European diet. Nowadays, pumpkins are primarily produced in the United States; although, they are also highly produced in areas of China, India, and Mexico.
Pumpkin seed oil is most commonly used in culinary recipes. Like many oils, it is often used in salad dressings, but pumpkin oil may also be added to desserts, soups, or stews for its sweet and nutty taste. With that said, it is not often used in cooking due to its low smoke point.
The oil itself is either dark green or red in color, depending on how thick the oil is. It does have a nutty taste, but the oil will become bitter as it turns brown. Storing it in a cool, dark place will typically help to extend its shelf life.
Nutritional Composition of Pumpkin Oil
Although there are carbs present in pumpkins and their seeds, actual pumpkin seed oil does not have any; its glycemic index is zero. Otherwise, the most important nutrient found in pumpkin seed oil is tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that has been proven to help positively affect both your sleep and mood. The oil is also rich in zinc, which can help treat acne from the inside out.
Pumpkin seed oil contains many other essential nutrients as well, thanks to the powerful composition of pumpkin seeds. Just one cup of pumpkin seeds contains around 12 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fat, and 12 grams of fiber.
Other essential nutrients found in pumpkin seed oil include magnesium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, phosphorus, folate, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
The oil also has high concentrations of polyunsaturated fats in the form of Omega 3s and Omega 6s, which are essential fatty acids that can both help support a healthy heart with balanced cholesterol levels.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seed Oil
Because of the high concentrations of so many essential nutrients, pumpkin seed oil provides a large number of significant health benefits. Generally speaking, the oil could help ease inflammation caused by atherosclerosis or nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases.
Its cardioprotective and antihypertensive properties may also help protect the body from developing heart disease and reduce the risk of heart attacks. Similarly, studies suggest that pumpkin seed oil might also help regulate high blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels in women who are postmenopausal. (1)
As pumpkin seed oil is highly nutritious, it is often used to help support good health in cancer patients. In fact, there may also be a chance that it could help lower the general risk of cancer as well.
Lignans, which are found in pumpkin seeds, have been shown to have a positive effect in treating and preventing breast cancer, and the oil could also do the same for prostate cancer.
There have been several promising studies into the anti cancer effects of pumpkin seeds. Studies suggest that the nutrients found in pumpkin seeds could protect against and potentially even fight against breast cancer. (2) Pumpkin seed oil may also reduce the damaging effects of certain known carcinogens making it an exciting potential treatment against various types of cancer. (3)
Generally speaking, the antioxidants found in the oil could also provide protection against radiation or damage to the intestines while undergoing cancer treatment. (4) (5)
The oil could also help promote better prostate health and relieve age-related prostate enlargement (prostatic hyperplasia). Pumpkin seed oil has long been used in traditional folk medicine to boost prostate health and recent research is backing up these traditional uses.
According to research, pumpkin seed oil can help reduce the size of the prostate particularly when it comes to age-related enlargement of the prostate. (6)
Another healthy benefit provided by the use of pumpkin seed oil is that it may help treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The oil’s antihyperglycemic properties make it a great potential candidate for a natural treatment for diabetes.
Urinary Tract Health
This wonderful oil may also help treat overactive bladder symptoms or other urinary disorders.One study published in 2014 looked at the effects of pumpkin oil extracts on urinary tract conditions including overactive bladder. The study found that consuming the oil had a beneficial impact on the urinary tract and may be an important method of maintaining a healthy bladder and excretory system. (7)
Male Hair Loss
The high amounts of zinc found in the oil could also help treat hair loss, especially in men who suffer from male-pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia.
One double-blind study published in 2014 looked at the effects of pumpkin seed oil on hair loss in men. By the end of the 24 week trial, the benefits of the oil became very apparent. Those who were treated with pumpkin seed oil had on average, a 40% increase in hair count compared with the placebo group. (8)
Far too many of us continue to use unhealthy, saturated fats. By switching to a much healthier unsaturated fat like pumpkin seed oil, you can benefit your health in a number of ways including reducing inflammation throughout the body.
A study published in 2015 looked at the effects of pumpkin seed oil in a group of patients with atherosclerosis and fatty liver disease. The study found that people who replaced their regular oil with pumpkin seed oil experienced a reduction in the symptoms of the diseases. (9)
Many people are keen to eat a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet to protect against multiple conditions. Try swapping your regular oil for a healthy oil like pumpkin seed oil and you are almost bound to benefit in the long run.
Anxiety and Emotional Well-Being
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are also great for boosting other areas of health including your emotional well-being. Many people these days are plagued by mental conditions like anxiety, stress and insomnia and unfortunately pharmaceutical medications can only do so much while they also bring a risk of dependency and side effects. This has left many people looking for an answer in nature.
The tryptophan, found in pumpkin seeds, has been linked to treating social anxiety and promoting better sleep. (10) Other compounds found in the oil are known to improve focus and memory. so, as well as all its physical benefits, switching to this amazing oil can also help calm your mind and prepare you for the day ahead.
Pumpkin Seed Oil for the Skin and Hair
Thanks to the incredible nutrients provided by pumpkin oil, it can also do a lot for your skin and hair when applied topically. The high amounts of vitamin E present in pumpkin seed oil make it great for moisturizing the skin and reducing signs of early aging, such as fine lines or wrinkles. Vitamin E can also help improve the elasticity of your skin, which can reverse time by leaving your skin looking firm and youthful again.
Topical applications of pumpkin oil to the skin can also help improve and balance the skin tone. The many vitamins found in the oil work together to prevent dryness, soften and brighten the skin, and reduce any signs of blemishes.
You could also use the oil as a makeup remover since it is thinner than castor oil and also promotes long and healthy eyelashes. For the hair, you can use a few drops of pumpkin oil on damp hair, or mix it in with your favorite shampoo or conditioner to lock in the moisture of your hair and increase its natural shine.
With that said, there are also several beauty benefits that can be provided by consuming the oil as well. Adding pumpkin seed oil to the diet could help heal wounds quicker, reduce hair loss, and even promote the growth of longer and healthier nails. The oil can be added to many different types of recipes; although, it should not be cooked due to its low smoke point. You might also find pumpkin seed oil in capsule form, which could make consumption for these benefits even more convenient.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does pumpkin seed oil do?
Pumpkin seeds and the oil made from the seeds have a wide variety of potential health benefits. It is used for a variety of internal; conditions like boosting prostate health, boost the heart’s health, treating urinary tract infections, preventing cancer and a range of inflammatory conditions. It is also used to improve the health and appearance of the skin and hair.
Is pumpkin oil good for your skin?
In a word – yes. Pumpkin seed oil is a rich source of natural antioxidants, vitamin E and omega fatty acids. It has a great many beneficial uses on the skin including hydrating and moisturizing, anti-aging properties and general cosmetic benefits
Is pumpkin oil good for your hair?
Likewise, pumpkin seed oil is also great for your hair. It is a good source of vitamins including vitamins A and E and nourishing minerals like zinc. It can help strengthen the hair and according to research can even prevent hair loss.
Can you use pumpkin seed oil for cooking?
It is not recommended as a cooking oil because it because of its low smoke point and it also becomes quite bitter when it is heated. However, you can certainly use it in exactly the same way that you would use olive oil but it has a more robust flavor. Try drizzling a little on your salads or use it to make a tasty dip.
Advice and Potential Side Effects When Using Pumpkin Oil
If you are planning on using pumpkin seed oil, you should remember that it needs to be stored in a dark and cool place. If the oil is exposed to light or warmth, the polyunsaturated fats will begin to oxidize and cause the oil to become rancid.
While the oil’s nutty flavor will begin to fade after opening, the oil itself will be usable for up to 12 months or more. Also remember not to use pumpkin oil in cooking recipes that require the oil to be heated, as this will negate most of the oil’s health benefits and cause it to taste bitter.
While using the oil might certainly help various health issues or conditions that you may be suffering from, it’s important you speak with your doctor first to make sure the oil will be safe for you and your body. If you are already taking any medications for the issue, pumpkin seed oil could interfere with those treatments. Speaking with a doctor ensures that you will only experience the positive benefits of pumpkin seed oil.
If your doctor has approved the use of pumpkin oil or any other natural substance for that matter, it may be wise to seek help from a holistic healthcare practitioner as well. A holistic healthcare practitioner may be able to help you determine the proper dosage amounts and application methods to use for the best results.
Because these professionals are specifically trained in the use of natural substances, they will know exactly how the oils work and what you should expect from adding them to your natural skin or healthcare routines. Because of this, a holistic healthcare practitioner may also be able to recommend other natural substances that you could use in addition to pumpkin oil to provide added health benefits.
Before adding pumpkin seed oil to your daily skincare routine, it may be best to do a small patch test to see if you experience any negative reactions to the oil. This might be especially necessary if you know that you are often prone to sensitive skin or irritations.
If you see any signs of irritation within one to two hours after applying pumpkin oil in a patch test, you should not continue to use the oil. With that said, waiting a full 48 hours may be safer to make sure that your skin won’t have any delayed reactions.