Let Thy Pumpkin Be Thy Medicine

Posted in Family Health.

The quest for the perfect Jack-O-Lantern is a cherished tradition that brings many families to the pumpkin patch each October. Children are delighted at the sight of row upon row of pumpkins, and the challenge of finding their own special pumpkin adds to the excitement. Back at the homestead, mom or dad carefully carves out the prize into a Jack-O-Lantern with a big toothy smile and a diamond shaped nose. But wait! Hold on a minute before you throw the pulp and seeds into the trash! Remember the old saying, waste not; want not. Pumpkin flesh and seeds have tremendous nutritional and health benefits. Perhaps Hippocrates thinking about pumpkin when he proclaimed, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”

Pumpkin Flesh

Pumpkin flesh is low in carbohydrates and a great source of protein and fiber. A cup of cooked pumpkin contains 49 calories. Pumpkin is rich in vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, a water-soluble form of vitamin A that is important for the immune system. Lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin A – like nutrients that protect the eye from free radical damage, are present in pumpkin flesh. Pumpkin is an excellent source of potassium, a mineral that supports healthy blood pressure, muscles and heart.

 Pumpkin Nutrition Facts (1 cup cooked)

Calories 49

Zinc 1 mg

Protein 2 grams

Selenium 0.5 mg

Carbohydrate 12 grams

Vitamin C 12 mg

Fiber 3 grams

Niacin 1 mg

Calcium 37 mg

Folic Acid 21 mcg

Magnesium 22 mg

Vitamin A 2650 IU

Potassium 564 mg

Vitamin E 3 mg

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, available in health food stores, are commonly known as pepitas. Pumpkin seeds have a long history in folk medicine and naturopathic medicine.  Pumpkin seeds are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and contain vitamin E, carotenoids, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin K. Like pumpkin flesh, they are also a source of protein.

Pumpkin Seeds May Support Prostate Health

There is evidence that pumpkin seed oil may be helpful in a condition in men called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is common as men age and is characterized by an enlarged prostate gland, difficulty in urinating and frequent need to urinate. Often the gland is inflamed. Components in pumpkin seed oil may suppress the activity of a form of testosterone that causes overgrowth of the prostate. In addition, pumpkin seed oil contains zinc, carotenoids and amino acids, which nourish the gland. BPH is a condition that requires oversight by a physician. Snacking on pumpkin seeds, however, is a nutritious addition to your dietary habits and may be beneficial to your prostate.

Pumpkin Seeds and Heart Health

Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, which are plant-derived compounds with a structure similar to cholesterol. Dietary phytosterols may lower cholesterol. Phytosterols are incorporated into certain margarines and some vitamins that are advertised as “heart healthy.”

Pumpkin Seeds and Intestinal Worms

Freshly ground pumpkin seeds are a traditional remedy, used in Native American and Folk Medicine, for intestinal worms. Pumpkins seeds are known to immobilize and assist in the expulsion of intestinal parasites. Today, in some parts of Africa, pumpkin seeds are used to treat tapeworm. Many alternative healers are of the opinion that intestinal parasites are a problem not only in third world nations, but in developed countries also, where infestations are often misdiagnosed. Symptoms are persistent pain, bloating, diarrhea, inability to gain weight, and fatigue. Seek out medical treatment if you think you have intestinal parasites. In addition to conventional medical treatment, munching on one ounce of pumpkin seeds a day may be helpful. 

Back To the Jack-O-Lantern

One of my favorite scriptures is Genesis 1 verse 29 – “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”  God must have smiled when He made the pumpkin. The Unity of such a gift as evidenced in its beauty and utility as food, medicine and, for kids of all ages, a fun time. Carving the Jack-O-Lantern - what a great teaching moment for our children! 


The Green Pharmacy, by James A Duke Ph.D. St. Martin Press, 1997

Natural Medicine Comprehensive DataBase. J. Jellin Ed.

Younis, UM. African Cucurbita pepo – Properties of seed and variability in fatty acid composition of seed oil. Phytochemistry, 2000 May;54 (1) 71-5

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. They are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice or prescription.


Debbie Edson is a registered pharmacist, with a background in hospital and community practice. She is proprietor of Healthy Morning, LLC. Her passion is educating people about evidence based natural healing. She is a recent contributor to the best selling book, Prescription For Nutritional Healing, 4th Ed. Debbie lives in Massachusetts with her husband, David. She has one child, Laura Novak, who is a photographer in Wilmington, Delaware. 

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