The pumpkin plant is a large, creeping, annual garden vegetable in the Cucurbitaceae family. It’s native to North America, but cultivated worldwide. The hairy stem can reach a length of 30ft and has branching tendrils, alternate, stiff haired ovate-triangular leaves. Solitary, dioecious yellow funnel-shaped flowers with pointed lobes bloom in the summer and mature into large orange pumpkins in the late summer and fall, which contain numerous white seeds. Pumpkins do best in full sun and moist nutritious soils. Pumpkins are pollinated by honeybees, and at one time, were exclusively pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, which is largely in decline due to the excessive use of pesticides.
Pumpkin seeds are nutritive, high in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, and diuretic, useful for urinary complaints. It’s considered heating and sweet in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a anthelmintic herb, pumpkin seeds can expel intestinal worms such as tapeworm and roundworm and is safe for both children and adults to use. Pumpkin seeds are also beneficial to the male system, and help keep the prostate healthy as well as reducing any swelling issues with the prostate. Some studies are showing that they greatly reduce male risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, which is an enlarged prostate. Additionally, pumpkin seeds have been shown to help with IBS, reduce blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and improve diabetic conditions. The oil contains fatty acids, such as oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, and when used externally, can help heal and soothe chapped skin and burns.
In Gypsy tradition, the seeds were eaten to preserve male “vigor and potency”. A poultice of pumpkin blossoms are thought to heal cactus scratches, and are often used culinarily, stuffed and fried or baked. The seeds are also a common culinary ingredient, either made into brittles and candies, used as a garnish, or roasted with salt or sugar and spices. The fruit of the pumpkin itself is high in fiber, beta-carotene, and tons of vitamins and minerals. It’s useful for pets, such as dogs and cats, suffering from digestive complaints such as diarrhea, constipation, or hairballs, as it helps to regulate digestion. Canned pumpkin will also give your pet’s coat a glistening sheen.
To expell worms, a handful of seeds should be eaten three times a day while fasting, over a several day period. An accompanying garlic tea enema will accelerate this process. Otherwise, a handful or two a day is a healthy amount to consume as a snack and preventative.
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