With the recent fall holidays, I was inspired to do some research on pumpkin seeds and prostate health. Pumpkin seeds are a common component in natural men’s health formulas, and I’ve heard somewhere along the way that men in Turkey consume a handful of pumpkin seeds a day often, and that they have a very low incidence of prostate disease. Now, I couldn’t find any data to back this up, and I don’t know if it’s true, but I did find some other interesting research on pumpkin seeds. (If you do know the source of this information, please visit my Contact page and let me know!)
In 2009, a Korean study was published in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice. Forty-seven men with enlarged prostates were enrolled in the study and were either given a placebo, pumpkin seed oil (320 mg/day), saw palmetto oil (320 mg/day), or a combination of pumpkin seed and saw palmetto oil (same dose). All 3 treatment groups showed improvement in urination by 3 months. Their symptoms were measured on a 35 point scale and on average went from 18-20 down to 4-9 after treatment for a year. No side effects were reported in the trial, although some patients did leave the study because their symptoms worsened.
A study published in the International Journal of Oncology in early 2011 investigated a supplement called ProstaCaid that contains 33 herbal and nutrient ingredients, including pumpkin seeds (2% of the total preparation). They studied this compound in the lab on prostate cancer cells and measured how it affected the cells’ gene expression and ability to grow. The supplement had a very strong effect, keeping the cells from growing and being able to invade other cells (which is how cancer spreads).
Although nothing I found strongly supports using pumpkin seeds to treat prostate disease, it’s no surprise that there isn’t a lot of research on this. Foods from nature are full of ingredients and compounds that have an array of effects on the body. Eating these foods has numerous effects that we can’t possibly ever study or fully understand. The take home message for me, here, is that this is a reminder of the power of real food. Eat real food, as it comes from nature. You can’t go wrong.