Pumpkin Seed Oil For Bladder Health

Have you heard about using pumpkin seed oil for bladder health and prostate?

In this post, we’ll review scientific evidence that suggests that pumpkin seeds and oil could be beneficial for various health issues.

I will also suggest what kind of pumpkin oil you should look for and how to take it.

Why Pumpkin Seed Oil Is Good For You

Pumpkin seed oil is derived- as the name suggests- from the seeds of pumpkins. Pumpkin seed is a well known traditional herbal remedy that has been used for centuries for its many health properties. It is traditionally grown in Asia and Africa, but is found throughout the Americas and Europe and has a wide range of uses.

There are at least 12 varieties of pumpkin, including squash and gourd, that produce the herbal pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds come from several species including Cucurbita pepo, maxima, moschata and mixta. The seeds from different species have a slight variation in their nutrients, but overall tend to have similar healthful properties.

Generally, they pack a wide range of nutrients in a tiny seed. Pumpkin seeds contain:

  • A significant amount of vitamins, such as vitamin E and K,
  • polyunsaturated fats (the “healthy” fats) 
  • phytosterols (naturally occurring plant cholesterols that help to decrease our cholesterol levels)
  • and proteins.
  • They are also a great source of potassium, zinc, iron and other minerals.

Pumpkin seeds and their oils have “triple A” properties. They are:

  1. Antioxidant
  2. Anti-inflammatory
  3. and to a certain extent, Antibacterial 

Studies show, that consuming these nutritional powerhouses help to prevent metabolic diseases like fatty liver disease and heart disease, which are major killers in our modern society. Other studies show a benefit in reducing diabetes and improving our ability to heal wounds.

The nutrients in pumpkin seeds change how our bodies metabolize cholesterol. Cholesterol is a precursor to many of our naturally occurring hormones and regulates a host of human functions.

For example, the fatty acids in pumpkin seeds can alter how much of certain inflammatory molecules we make, greatly increasing or decreasing our risk of chronic inflammatory illness.  

Best Pumpkin Seed Oil

Surprisingly, Pumpkin seed oil is not the same as pumpkin seeds. An important aspect of pumpkin seed oil is the manner in which the oil is produced.

Obviously, there are several steps that occur in order for the oil to be extracted from the seed. Refined oils are extracted using chemicals or very high temperatures. This process is almost too efficient as the oil loses a significant amount of the nutrients that is originally found in the seed.

Furthermore, the refining process increases the risk of oxidization (the oil can become rancid) and produces harmful trans fats as a byproduct. Trans fats are the type of fat that is unequivocally linked with heart disease. Even within the refining process, there is a range of nutrient loss.

For example, pumpkin seed oil that is extracted using ethanol retains more antioxidant properties than the oils that are extracted with methanol.

On the other hand, virgin oils or cold pressed oils are extracted mechanically and at low temperatures, which allows them to retain a larger proportion of nutrients like vitamins and phytosterols.

In one study that looked at the benefits of pumpkin oil, although both oils improved cholesterol levels, the virgin oil went above and beyond in terms of health benefits.

The virgin pumpkin seed oil reduced circulating blood markers that indicated vascular and liver inflammation. However, the refined pumpkin seed oil did not improve these markers.

In addition, those exposed to the virgin seed oil had less evidence of atherosclerosis, the physical manifestation of serious heart disease.

This indicates that virgin oils retain nutrients that are healthy and anti-inflammatory, and they have a significant impact on our health.

Refined oils, on the other hand, have lost many of these properties through processing.

Virgin oils really are best; remember this when you are shopping for edible oils as well as oil supplements. Check your labels- it doesn’t explicitly state “virgin” or “cold pressed” as the method of extraction, assume it is a refined oil.

Are Pumpkin Seeds Good For You?

An important point to make is that we should remember the benefits of eating the whole food. Even virgin pumpkin seed oil loses some of the nutrients that are found in the whole pumpkin seed. For example, the virgin oil has traces of trans fat that the natural seed does not. When you eat the whole seeds, you are really doing yourself a service. Here is what you get:

  1. All of the benefits of the polyunsaturated fats, without the harmful trans fat.
  2. Anti-oxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin E
  3. Minerals like magnesium (important for heart and bone health) and zinc (important for sperm quality and good sleep)
  4. A lot of fiber, which is only found in the seed and the shell. This is critical, as many urinary issues are intimately linked to constipation. The more fiber you can get in your diet, the better for you and your bladder!

Pumpkin Seeds and Oil Options on Amazon:

Pumpkin Seed Oil For Bladder Health

Pumpkin seed oil has a long track record for bladder health. Its well known antioxidant properties also improve bladder function. In addition, its unique properties are able to:

  • Relax the bladder,
  • Decrease pain
  • And improve urinary flow.

Pumpkin Seeds And The Prostate

Many older men have heard about pumpkin seed oil because of its well-known benefits in treating an enlarged prostate, also known as BPH.

Unfortunately, BPH occurs in about half of men over the age of 50 and causes a host of annoying symptoms. Studies show that pumpkin seed oil is effective at reducing symptoms of this disease. In fact, it is actually one of the first line treatment in many European countries.  

Pumpkin seed oil inhibits 5- alpha reductase, a human enzyme that aggressively stimulates prostate growth. It also reduces sex hormone binding globulin, thereby helping to stop or reverse prostate growth and relieve the nagging urinary obstructive symptoms.

Good news that pumpkin seed oil is definitely not just a placebo effect. In studies involving men with BPH, there were measurable changes in how well the men urinated. For example, men who took pumpkin seed oil strengthened the flow and force of their urine stream.

How Soon I’ll See Results If Taking Pumpkin Seed Oil For BPH?

It is important to note that men have to be patient when using pumpkin seed oil for BPH.

While effective, it may take up to 6 months to show a full benefit in men.  Generally, pumpkin seed is beneficial in men with mild or moderate urine symptoms. (Yarnell, 2016)

Men with more severe symptoms or who have a very slow stream, stones in the bladder or bleeding in the urine would benefit from more aggressive treatments.  

Pumpkin Seed Oil And Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Pumpkin seed oil benefits reach beyond men with bladder problems.

Studies have also looked at the role of pumpkin seed oil in treating overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome in both men and women.

OAB occurs in 30-40 percent of adults in the United States and causes very frequent bathrooms breaks as well as a sense of discomfort and urgency both day and night.

Many people with OAB also suffer from urinary incontinence and may have to rely on panty liners or Depends to keep dry. OAB is a huge bother and greatly affects a person’s quality of life.

In a study spanning 12 weeks, men and women took 10 grams of pumpkin seed oil (C. maxima) daily. Participants noticed a significant improvement in all areas of bladder health including how often they went to the bathroom and how often they had urine accidents. They noticed an improvement in their symptoms in as little as 6 weeks.

Another study using cystometrograms – pressure studies of the bladder – in rats, pumpkin seed oil increased the bladder capacity, the time between voiding and decreased urinary frequency.

Functional studies showed that the pumpkin seeds:

  1. Actively relax the bladder
  2. Decrease the sensation of urgency
  3. Decrease bladder spasms 
  4. Increase bladder capacity.

Another study showed that half of people using pumpkin seed extract noticed a decrease in irritating bladder symptoms such as burning while urinating, bladder pain and pressure.

Pumpkin seed supplementation also seems to be really useful in helping with nighttime urinary symptoms, which is vital to getting a good night’s sleep.

Few Side Effects Of Pumpkin Seed Oil

Another wonderful thing about pumpkin seed oil is that is has very few side effects. In multiple studies- even with patients observed for up for up to one year, there were few side effects.

In a study of over 2000 patients, 96% of individuals did not complain of any side effects, while in another study absolutely no one had any side effects.

In the few, who complain of side effects, they are generally mild and tend to include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea. 

Considering the many other health benefits of pumpkin seed oil, it seems like a no brainer to try this for yourself.

Pumpkin seed oil for enlarged prostate

If you have an enlarged prostate, studies recommend between 360 mg twice daily up to 1000 mg three times a day.

Remember it may take up to six months to see benefits, so be patient.

Pumpkin seed oil dose for bladder health

If you have bladder over activity, you should take up to 10 grams of pumpkin seed oil each day.

People tend to notice an improvement in symptoms more quickly.

Remember, you can also easily add pumpkin seeds to your diet.

The next time you buy a pumpkin or squash, don’t throw away the seeds. You can soak or sprout them to remove the phytic acid associated with many seeds, grains and legumes. Phytic acid decrease your ability to absorb the nutrients and is removed when seeds are processed to make oil. You can also roast them in the oven and add a little seasoning. Use them to top your salad, blend them into soups or eat them alone as a hearty snack!

References

  • Nishimura M, Ohkawara T, Sato H et. al. Pumpkin seed oil extracted from cucurbita maxima improves urinary disorder in human overactive bladder. J Tradit Complement Med. 2014; 4:72-72
  • Shirvan MK, Mahboob MR, Masuminia M et. al. Pumpkin seed oil (prostafit) or prazosin? Which one is better in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Pak Med Assoc. 2014 Jun;64(6):683-5.
  • Cristoni A, Di Pierro F, Bombardelli E. Botanical derivatives for the prostate. Fitoterapia 2000; 71: S21-28.
  • Damiano R, Cai T, Fornara P et. al. The role of Cucurbita pepo in the management of patients affected by lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia: A narrative review. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2016 Jul 4;88(2):136-43.
  • Xanthopoulou M, Nomikos T, Fragopoulou E et. al. Antioxidant and lipoxygenase inhibitory activities of pumpkin seed extracts. 2009 Jun; 42(5):641-646
  • Nawirska-Olszańska A, Kita A, Biesiada A et. al. Characteristics of antioxidant activity and composition of pumpkin seed oils in 12 cultivars. Food Chem. 2013 Aug 15;139(1-4):155-61.
  • Saavedra M, Aires A, Dias C et. al. Evaluation of the potential of squash pumpkin by-products (seeds and shell) as sources of antioxidant and bioactive compounds. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 Feb;52(2):1008-15.
  • Yarnell E. Western Herbal Medicine in Healing in Urology: Clinical Guidebook to Herbal and Alternative Therapies Chughtai B, Stein A & Espinosa G (ed). World Scientific Oct 2016.
  • Varonezi C & Jorge N. Bioactive compounds in lipid fractions of pumpkin (Cucurbitasp) seeds for use in food. J Food Sci. 2012 Jun;77(6):C653-7.
  • Friederich M, Theurer C, Schiebel-Schlosser G. [Prosta Fink Forte capsules in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Multicentric surveillance study in 2245 patients]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2000 Aug; 7(4):200-4.
  • Hong H, Kim CS, Maeng S. Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Nutr Res Pract. 2009 Winter;3(4):323-7.
  • Morrison M, Mulder P, Stavro PM et. al.  Replacement of Dietary Saturated Fat by PUFA-Rich Pumpkin Seed Oil Attenuates Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Atherosclerosis Development, with Additional Health Effects of Virgin over Refined Oil. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 25;10(9):e0139196.
  • Bardaa S, Halima B, Aloui F et. al. Oil from pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) seeds: evaluation of its functional properties on wound healing in rats. Lipids Health Dis. 2016 April; 15: 73.

 

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