In recent years, seed oils have garnered some unfavorable attention on social media, with some claiming that drinking any oil derived from seeds can harm one’s health. Yet, there is no good study to back up that claim. According to Harvard University and Consumer Reports, certain seed oils, such as pumpkin seed oil, are related with various possible health advantages.
Pumpkin seed oil, also known as pepita oil, is produced by extracting the oils from the seeds of Styrian pumpkins, which are endemic to Central Europe. Pumpkin seed oil, like many plant-based oils, has unsaturated fats that may support heart health, as well as antioxidants that may lower inflammation and the risk of different chronic diseases. Its phytoestrogens may also aid with hormonal disorders such as menopause symptoms and prostate enlargement. And, if you’re on TikTok, you might be aware of its most popular stated application: curing hair loss.
Although pumpkin seed oil is sometimes sold as a supplement (as capsules or serums), it is also a versatile cooking oil. “You can sprinkle pumpkin seed oil on salads, pasta meals, bread, or any other item where you’d normally use another oil,” Amy Brownstein, RDN of Nutrition Digested in Oakland, California, explains. “It can also be used in marinades, sauces, and dressings.”
Although high-quality data is limited, here are five potential health benefits of pumpkin seed oil that researchers are looking into.
1. Pumpkin Seed Oil Has the Potential to Enhance Hair Growth
The internet is rife with claims that consuming pumpkin seed oil on a daily basis will help you develop (or regrow) a lush head of hair, but is the hype justified? Some analysts are optimistic. “Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) has the potential to be a successful treatment for hair loss,” says Kristin Draayer, RDN, of Nutrition by Kristin in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “Fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals are abundant in PSO.” In theory, these may promote hair growth and health, but evidence to back up those claims is limited.
Numerous research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of the oil on hair loss. Draayer cites one trial in which 76 males with mild-to-moderate androgenetic alopecia, a common type of hair loss, were given PSO pills or a placebo daily for 24 weeks. When compared to the placebo group, the PSO group had a substantial increase in hair count. Several studies have looked into the oil’s effects on women. In a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in September 2021, researchers compared the efficacy of pumpkin seed oil to minoxidil 5 percent topical foam, a medicine used to treat hair loss, in women with female-pattern hair loss. Both groups demonstrated improved indices of hair shaft variety after three months of therapy.The researchers found that pumpkin seed oil could be useful in treating female-pattern hair loss.
But, the oil may not be a panacea for full, flowing tresses. “It’s important to recognize that there are certain limitations to the trials on PSO for hair loss,” Drayer explains. “Many of the trials have tiny sample sizes and subjects who are not diverse. Furthermore, the methods by which PSO influences hair development are not entirely understood.” Before using pumpkin seed oil for hair development, Draayer recommends consulting with a board-certified dermatologist.
2. Pumpkin Seed Oil May Benefit Heart Health
Pumpkin seed oil, like its more well-known sibling olive oil, may benefit cardiovascular health. A study published in SciELO Brasil, a Brazilian medical magazine, in July-September 2020 studied the effects of PSO supplementation on persons with varied degrees of medical problems that impair heart health, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. In comparison to controls who received only healthy diet and lifestyle guidance, subjects who received a 1,000 milligram (mg) pumpkin seed oil supplement (in addition to a prescription for a healthy diet and lifestyle habits) experienced a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure, as well as an increase in HDL (aka “good”) cholesterol.
According to Draayer, the “why” underlying these results is most likely due to the oil’s unique nutritional structure. “Pumpkin seed oil may be advantageous for heart health because of its unique combination of ingredients, which includes antioxidants, vital fatty acids, and phytosterols,” she says.
3. Pumpkin Seed Oil May Help With Menopause Symptoms
Might a little pumpkin seed oil help to chill hot flashes? Various studies have looked into the potential hormone-mediating effects of this plant-based oil. A previous study, for example, discovered that taking a 2,000 mg PSO supplement for 12 weeks improved symptoms such as headaches, hot flashes, and joint pain in postmenopausal women when compared to controls who took another oil, wheat germ.
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The researchers hypothesized that the oil’s phytoestrogens could be the key to alleviating symptoms caused by low estrogen. “Since phytoestrogens can bind to estrogen receptors, they are [possibly] able to have an estrogen-like effect on the body. “As a result, menopause symptoms improve,” Brownstein explains.
4. Pumpkin Seed Oil May Be Beneficial for Overactive Bladder
You are not alone if you have an overactive bladder. According to studies published in Current Bladder Dysfunction Reports, this illness affects 16.5 percent of American adults. Supplementing with pumpkin seed oil may help to relieve some of the associated urgency and excessive urine. “Pumpkin seed oil has several vitamins and chemicals that may be useful to urinary tract health,” explains Brownstein.
A small previous study from Japan indicated that subjects who received 10 grams (g) of pumpkin seed oil (particularly Cucurbita maxima, a pumpkin species from Japan) daily for 12 weeks had improved indicators of overactive bladder symptoms. Yet, 10 g of pumpkin seed oil contains a lot of PSO. “A typical dose for a pumpkin seed oil supplement is 500 to 1,000 mg [0.5 to 1 g] per day,” Brownstein explains. Ten g corresponds to 10 to 20 times this dose. Before beginning a pumpkin seed oil supplement, especially at large doses, consult your doctor for urinary health or any other reason.
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5. Pumpkin Seed Oil Has the Potential to Enhance Prostate Health
Pumpkin seed oil may also have an effect on another component of men’s urinary tract: the prostate. The effects of PSO and tamsulosin, a prescription medicine used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, were examined in a study published in BMC Urology in October 2021. (also known as enlarged prostate). Both PSO and tamsulosin reduced symptoms, however, PSO was less effective. Yet, pumpkin seed oil did not perform as well as the pharmaceutical drug.
Similarly, in a previous study published in Nutrition Research and Practice, men with enlarged prostates were given either pumpkin seed oil, palmetto oil, or a placebo for 12 months. After three months, those in the PSO group had higher urine flow rates and reported a higher quality of life. These benefits were obtained with only 320 mg of PSO per day — a rather small dose to consume via pills or capsules. Even better, no adverse effects from supplementation have been documented.