I have something coming up about pumpkin seeds and I wanted to revisit some of my pumpkin seed posts as background. Here’s a post from 2012 about a study that found men who took either pumpkin seed or saw palmetto oil had improvements in urination. The size of their prostate declined over time (improving urination even more) and they had better PSA scores.
To a list which includes saw palmetto and flax seed for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH):
- Flaxseed Extract Comparable To Drugs Like Flomax For Enlarged Prostate
- Saw Palmetto, NIH Gives It Top Grade
- Saw Palmetto VS. Flomax
Add pumpkin seed:
Effects Of Pumpkin Seed Oil And Saw Palmetto Oil In Korean Men With Symptomatic Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Nutrition Research and Practice, December 2009
This is another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. You don’t get better than this when studying the effectiveness of a drug. And it was long for a study like this, a year.
There were four groups:
- Group A: Placebo: Sweet potato starch, 320 mg/day
- Group B: Pumpkin seed oil, 320 mg/day
- Group C: Saw palmetto oil, 320 mg/day
- Group D: Pumpkin seed oil plus saw palmetto oil, 320 mg each/day
International Prostate Symptom Scores: Symptoms in Groups B, C, and D were significantly reduced after three months. Group D showed the most improvement. Interestingly, Group D showed continual improvement over time. So, the longer they took pumpkin seed/saw palmetto, the better they felt.
Quality of Life Scores: Improvements in Groups B, C, and D. Group D showed the most improvement, and again, they improved continually over time. (The placebo group’s score was unchanged over the 12 months.)
Serum PSA Levels: Only Group D showed a reduction in PSA levels, up to about 50%.
Prostate Volume: Groups B, C and D showed a gradual decline in size over time. (The placebo group remain unchanged.)
Maximal Urinary Flow Rate: Group B was significantly increased after 3 months; Group C after 6 months. Interestingly, Group D showed no improvement, but this could have been influenced by the participants’ higher age (see comment below*). The placebo group experienced a worsening of urinary symptoms, flow rate decreased 22% over a year.
The authors concluded:
“The results of this study show that the symptoms of BPH for all patients receiving treatment with pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto oil, or a combination of pumpkin seed oil plus saw palmetto oil were improved over 12 months, in comparison with placebo. … During the experimental period, no side effects were reported.”
* One drawback to this study was its small number of participants. In randomization, population characteristics cannot be ensured across groups. More participants mean more similarity across groups. It would be better if all groups had, say, the same percentage of people who were obese. In this study, Group D’s average age was significantly higher than Groups B and C. This may have been why Group D did not show even better outcomes for combination therapy, which one would expect. (Of course, age may not have had any impact, but you can’t tell from this study.)
Why would you expect that combination therapy would be better? Because pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil have different mechanisms of action, they work to improve urinary symptoms in different ways:
“According to the difference in action mechanisms, a synergistic effect on BPH was expected from combination treatment of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil. In our study, combination treatment of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil induced a higher symptomatic improvement … than a single treatment.”
Pharmaceutical drugs like Flomax are potent and can relieve symptoms overnight. Plant-based therapies (phytotherapies) can take several weeks to show effectiveness, but do so without the cost and side effects of drugs. They may also be better choices for long-term use.
Indeed, in this study:
“PV [prostate volume] and MFR [Maximal Urinary Flow Rate] measurements started after 6 months because the urologists advised that there would not be a significant change over a short period such as the first 3 months of treatment.”