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Pumpkin the fruit and Medicine

  Introduction
  Common Name
  History
  Pumpkins plant
  Chemical Constituents
  Cultivation
  Pumpkins as Medicine
  Pumpkins other uses
  Pumpkins Side effects
  Economics
  Recent research

  Introduction

    Pumpkin fruit

  The pumpkin is a very large, orange to greenish colored fibrous familiar fruit. It is a herbaceous running plant belonging to the melon family. The pumpkin fruit grows annually on vines up to 26 ft in length. Pumpkin possesses some really top quality essential nutrients that are required for many processes in the human body and can serve as effective herbal medication. 

  Many important disease fighting nutrients are also found in large quantities in the flesh and pulp as well as the seeds of the pumpkin, these includes the essential mineral potassium, the vitamin pantothenic acid, the essential mineral magnesium, and the important vitamins C and E  aside from many other nutrients. Due to the presence of a synergistic combination of the class of organic  compounds known as carotenoids  in the pumpkin, the pumpkin is considered to be one of the super foods. 
  The cultivation of pumpkins is carried out worldwide due to its widespread use in many cuisines, medicine , seeds oil and a perfect food.



   Common Name

 Hindi -         Petha, Raksa 
English -      White pumpkin, white guard melon, Ash Gourd 
Latin  -         Ben incasa Hispida
Family :       Cucurbitaceae 
Sanskrit -     Kusmandah
Marathi     -  Kahala 
Gujarati    -   Bhurun Kohalu
Bengali        Kumda
Tamil   -       Pusanikkai
Telgu  -        Budidagummadi
Malayalam   Kumpalam
Kannada      Budikumbala

  History

  The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico. A popular festival,  Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins , the world record held at  208.65 kilograms before 1981.Howard Dill broke the record with a pumpkin near 226.80 kilograms in 1981. By 1994, the Giant pumpkin crossed the 1,000-pound (453.59-kilogram) mark. The current world record holder is Chris Stevens's 1,810-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp's 1990 record of 1,725 pounds. Pumpkin seeds were very popular in ancient Greece. Pumpkin seeds are called pepitas in Mexico and popular in  Mexican cuisine..

   Pumpkin fruit

  Pumpkin Fruit 

 Pumpkin leaves

  Pumpkin leaves

   Pumpkins plant

  Plant: A pumpkin is a gourd like squash. In general, pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems. 
  Leaves: The pumpkin has large green leaves
  Flowers: Pumpkins having both male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower is distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene ,the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.
  Fruit: Pumpkins are a squash like fruit that range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (453.59 kilograms). The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed. Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray. 
 Seed: Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at most grocery stores.

  Chemical Constituents

  Pumpkin active ingredients include essential fatty acids, amino acids, phytosterols (including beta-sitosterol), minerals and vitamins. Seed kernels of pumpkinare rich in fat soluble vitamins, oil and protein, containing considerable amounts of P, K, Mg, Mn, and Ca.  Roasted pumpkin contains a significantly high amount of carotenoids, especially zeaxanthin.
 Pumpkin seed kernel flour has high values of chemical  score, essential amino acid index, and in vitro protein digestibility. Pumpkin Seed Oil has high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids with linoleic and oleic acids as the major acids. Pumpkin posses an unusual amino acid known as cucurbitin, which has been chemically defined as (-)-3-amino-3-carboxypyrrolidine. 

  Cultivation

  Soils: Pumpkin prefer a well-drained sandy loam with high organic matter and a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. The conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil  temperatures three inches (7.62 centimeters) deep are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit  (15.5 degrees Celsius) and soil that holds water well.
  Climate-  Pumpkins are warm-season annuals, preferring 75° to 86° F daytime and 64° F nighttime temperatures. The seeds germinate most rapidly when the soil temperature is 86° F. Winter squash and pumpkins can be direct-seeded as soon as the soil temperature reaches 60° F. They need 90 to 120 frost-free days to reach maturity. Plastic mulches of various colors can be used to increase the soil temperature and speed early-season plant growth.
  Irrigation:  Pumpkins  need lots of water. Try to keep the soil moist, not wet, at all times. It is also important to avoid getting the leaves wet.
  Fertilization:  Pumpkins prefer a very rich soil, with lots of compost and manure. Fertilize on a regular basis. Use a high nitrogen formula in early plant growth. It requires fertilizer high in Phosphorous just before the blooming period.
  Pests and Diseases:  A variety of diseases affect pumpkins, most notable is powdery mildew. Apply fungicides at the first sign of a problem. Better still, apply them before plant disease problems occur. Hot, humid weather encourages pumpkin diseases.
  Harvest: The fruits are ripe when they  turns a bright orange color  The fruits must be picked before over maturity.

  Pumpkin seeds health benefit

*Pumpkin seeds contain lots of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper and a good source of vitamin K.
*Contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
*Contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep and lowering depression. 
*Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, making them a natural protector against osteoporosis. 
*Pumpkin seeds contain a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g. 
*Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of vitamin B group (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates).
* Contain good quality protein 
* Pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.
* Reduce inflammation for arthritis without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. 
* Pumpkin seeds are good for prostate cure.

 
Pumpkin seeds are little nutrition giants contain the beauty mineral copper, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
A study published in 2012 in the journal "Connective Tissue Research" indicated copper’s anti-skin aging, skin regeneration potential as well as copper´s antioxidant activity. Snack on honey roasted pumpkin seeds with a bit of sea salt instead of chips supporting your immune system.

  Pumpkins as Medicine

 The carotenoids derived from wholesome plant foods such as the pumpkin, are excellent defenses against the risk of diseases and help fight off all kinds of disorders in the body. Traditionally the medicine  made from the pumpkin were used in the treatment of disorders as kidney inflammation and to eliminate intestinal parasites.

  Safe de-worming agent:   Pumpkin seeds in herbal medicine is mainly as a natural and safe de-worming agent, the seeds are able to rid the body of all intestinal helminthes and parasites when used properly. The treatment of pregnant women and children affected by infestation of tapeworms is effectively carried out using the pumpkin seed.

  Intestinal inflammation :  Intestinal inflammation can be treated by consuming an herbal decoction made from the pumpkin pulp. 

  BPH:  Disorders of the prostate gland, as well as problems such as an irritable bladder are treated using the pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seed remedy used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH.

  Parasites:  Curcurbitin in pumpkin seeds has shown anti-parasitic activity in vi-vitro. Chinese scientists used pumpkin seeds to treat acute schistosomiasis and tapeworm infestations .

 Depression:  L-tryptophan in pumpkin seeds are suggested to help remedy depression.

  Kidney Stone: In Thailand, people use pumpkin seeds to prevent kidney stone .Pumpkin seeds appear to slow down the stone formation in the urine. 

 Anti-Oxidant Activities:   Pumpkin seeds have long been used for health benefits and the seed oils of pumpkin may also contain many active beneficial components. The active beneficial components may protect important biological molecules from oxidative stress. Pumpkin seed oil is a rich source of antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids .

  Pumpkins other uses

  Uses for cooking:   Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers.
  Uses for sweets:  Pumpkin  is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday. In Mexico and the U.S., the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack. In the Middle East , pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called "halawa yaqtin".  In South Asian countries such as India , pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called "kadu ka halwa". Pumpkin is used to make "sambar " in Udupi cuisine. A sweet form pumpkin  in North India is " "Sweet Petha"   
  Uses in Vegetables: The leaves and the fruit of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable 
  Pumpkins Seeds : Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, some of which include a good source of protein , zinc, and other vitamins and are even said to lower cholesterol. One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium , manganese , phosphorus  and phytosterols .  
 Pumpkin seed oil :  Pumpkin seed oil  is a thick, green-red oil that is produced from roasted pumpkin seeds. When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, pumpkin seed oil is generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor. Long believed to be a folk remedy for prostate problems, it has been claimed to combat benign prostatic hyperplasia  Pumpkin seed oil contains essential fatty acids that help maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves and tissues. 
 Uses in decorative lanterns:  Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o'-lanterns for the Halloween season in North America. Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables

 Pumpkin seeds increase the sperm count

  Pumpkin seeds contain a good dose of zinc which is said to increase the sperm count They also contain essential fatty acids like Omega-3 which enhance the blood flow to sexual organs. Other good sources of Omega-3 acids are almonds, sardines, salmon and flaxseed.

  Pumpkins Side effects

  No side effect is reported.

  Economics

  Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal feed) to commercial and ornamental sales. The biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States , Mexico , India , and China. As one of the most popular crops in the United States , 1.5 billion pounds (680,000,000 kilograms) of pumpkins are produced each year in USA. 
  Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking, sweets, as a food, medicines, seeds, seeds oil and other uses. Its demand and market are increasing.

  Recent research

  Scientists have found that the skin of pumpkin a substance with an antibacterial effect against microbes that cause millions of cases of yeast infections in adults and infants each year .Some disease-causing microbes are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. As a result, scientists worldwide are searching for new antibiotics. 
   In the new study, Kyung-Soo Hahm, Yoonkyung Park and colleagues extracted proteins from pumpkin rinds to see if the proteins inhibit the growth of microbes, including Candida albicans (C. albicans).That fungus causes vaginal yeast infections, diaper rash in infants, and other health problems. 
   One protein had powerful effects in inhibiting the growth of C. albicans, in cell culture experiments, with no obvious toxic effects. The study suggests that the pumpkin protein could be developed into a natural medicine for fighting yeast infections in humans. The protein also blocked the growth of several fungi that attack important plant crops and could be useful as an agricultural fungicide, the researchers found. The study has been published in the current issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , a bi-weekly publication.

  References

   1 "Pumpkin." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2004. 
  2 Pumpkin. (2007). Encyclopædia Britannica -. Retrieved November 28, 2007
  3.Wolford, Ron, and Drusilla Banks. "Pumpkins and More". 2008. University of Illinois

 
                                                                                                                             
 

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