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What are the Medical Uses of Pumpkin Extract?

By Deborah Walker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Curcurbita pepo is a species of pumpkin in the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd, family. It is thought to be native to North America and has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Native American medicine. Studies are underway regarding the medical uses of pumpkin extract, particularly in the treatment of urinary incontinence and benign prostatic hypertrophy. The plant may be a good treatment for type 1 diabetes, cholesterol, and heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and liver disease. More research is needed, however.

In the U.S. and Canada, the squash known as pumpkin is round and orange with wide vertical creases, a thick stem and thick skin. Size and weight vary from small one pound (0.45 kilogram) pumpkins to giant 1,000 pound (453.6 kilogram) fruit. Pumpkins grow in temperate climates on all of the continents except Antarctica.

Anthropologists believe that people inhabiting what is now Mexico used pumpkin seeds dating from 7000-5500 BCE. Native American tribes traditionally used pumpkin seeds and its derivatives to promote prostate, kidney, and bladder health. Studies analyzing the use of the extract as a treatment for prostate disease in older men and urinary incontinence in postmenopausal women seem to support Native American medicinal uses of this plant.

A small, six-week study using pumpkin extract to treat incontinence in postmenopausal women had good results. At the end of the study, 75% of participants reported significantly improved bladder control. The essential fatty acids and phytosterols are believed to be the components responsible for improved urinary control. Animal studies indicate that the extract may hinder the development of benign prostatic hypertrophy in older men.

In one Chinese study, pumpkin extract reportedly demonstrated regeneration of pancreatic cells in rats with type 1 diabetes. As a result, the rats were able to begin making some of their own insulin. The effect of the extract on type 2 diabetes was not studied.

Other animal studies show that pumpkin extract may prevent onset and progression of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. In addition, this extract may lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Pumpkin extract may prove useful against HIV/AIDS, other viruses, and liver disease as well. So far its use to combat viruses has only been studied in a petri dish in the lab.

Those taking lithium or other diuretic medication may want to consult with their doctor before adding pumpkin extract to their supplement regimen. This extract may compound lithium's effectiveness and cause the body to excrete fluids at a faster rate than lithium alone. Serious side effects may result. Pregnant or nursing women should also consider speaking with their doctor prior to taking pumpkin extract. Although studies look promising, more research must be completed before it can be said with certainty that this extract can be used to successfully treat disease.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Hazali — On Mar 23, 2014

Wow, I didn't know that pumpkin extract was so beneficial against HIV/AIDS. In fact, who knows? Maybe one day, it could even lead to the cure for it. I know that sounds a bit far fetched, but it's still a possibility. As a hypothetical solution, they could even create a medicine with pumpkin extract as the main source. With more research and years of study, it's a possibility. Also, I'd like to say that one thing I really like about this article is that it shows that pumpkins are for more than just enjoying during the fall time. In fact, this can even apply to most fruits and vegetables, whose extracts have been known to work wonders.

By Chmander — On Mar 22, 2014

@RoyalSpyder - The reason is because literally, the extract is the "core" of the fruit or vegetable. It embodies everything about it, particularly the nutritional value. This article is a great read. Who knew that pumpkin extract had so many benefits, such as bladder control, and hindrance in diabetes?

By RoyalSpyder — On Mar 21, 2014

Has anyone noticed that the extract of certain foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, have some great nutritional values and benefits. Why is this?

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