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The familiar Halloween pumpkin is a member of the squash family, native to North and Central America. The seeds of the pumpkin were used medicinally in Native American medicine, primarily for the treatment of kidney, bladder, and digestive problems. From 1863 to 1936, the United States Pharmacopoeia listed pumpkin seeds as a treatment for intestinal parasites.
Pumpkin seed oil has become popular today as a treatment for prostate enlargement ( benign prostatic hyperplasia , or BPH), and it was approved for this use in 1985 by Germany’s Commission E. However, there is no meaningful evidence that pumpkin seed is helpful for this condition. Only double-blind , placebo-controlled studies can prove a treatment effective, and none have been reported for pumpkin seed oil alone. (For information on why this type of study is essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? ) However, two such studies evaluated a combination product containing pumpkin seed oil and the herb saw palmetto . 1 These studies did suggest benefit with the combination product, but since saw palmetto is thought to be effective for BPH, it is not...
As a widely eaten food, pumpkin seeds are presumed to be safe (though there have been cases in which incompletely chewed up seeds have gotten stuck in the esophagus!). There are as yet no known or suspected safety risks with pumpkin seed oil.