By age 50 about half of men suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia, commonly known as enlarged prostate. This condition can cause urinary frequency, getting up in the night to urinate. Chronic night time urinary frequency disturbs the ability to get a proper night’s sleep. This can increase the risk of other health problems such as cardiovascular complications, depressed mood, and even cancer. Sleep interruption causes a decrease in quality of life.Enlarged prostate is a problem because it is located where it surrounds the urethra. As the prostate grows in size, it constricts (tightens around) the urethra causing impaired flow and urinary urgency. Pumpkin seed and pumpkin seed oil may be the answer.
For centuries, pumpkin seeds have been used to treat this condition and recent research shows that pumpkin seed oil combined with saw palmetto oil may enhance the improvement of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate).
It is thought that a metabolite of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, accumulates in the prostate causing it to grow in size. It appears that pumpkin seeds may reduce this effect and may also block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. At this time, it is only a theory and research is needed.
Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of zinc which is found in the prostate at the highest levels of any other organ in the body. Studies have found that men with lower levels of zinc in their prostates were more likely to have BPH (enlarged prostate). Research in this area is ongoing but it appears that it is important to add zinc to the diet to maintain prostate health.
No negative side effects have been found from the ingestion of pumpkin seeds. However, some subjects have reported gas and bloating when eating large amounts of pumpkin seeds possibly due to their high fiber content.
Other benefits include reduction of hair loss in men. One study showed that taking 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil resulted in a 40 percent increase in hair growth after 24 weeks. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium which helps to regulate blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar levels.
If pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil help to alleviate BPH in older men, we may conclude that eating pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil at an earlier age may prevent or slow BPH as one ages.
As always check with your health care provider before adding supplements to your diet.
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