What Is Pumpkin Seed Oil?

Pumpkin seed oil softgel, capsules, and cooking oil

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Pumpkin seed oil, also called pepita oil, is the oil extracted from the seeds of a pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima). The rust-colored oil is used in cooking and as a health supplement. Pumpkin seed oil contains fatty acids and phytosterols (a plant compound that interferes with cholesterol absorption in the intestine). Both of these nutrients are good for heart health.

Some people take pumpkin seed oil to lower cholesterol, ease symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate, reduce hot flashes and hormone-related headaches, and reverse hair loss. However, there is little available evidence to support these uses.

This article examines pumpkin seed oil, its uses, and possible side effects. It also discusses dosage and preparation.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement that has been tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily safe for everyone or effective in general. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Cucurbita pepo
  • Alternate name(s): Pumpkin seed oil, pepita oil
  • Legal status: Available over the counter (OTC)
  • Suggested dose: Many supplements come in 1,000 milligram (mg) dosages; as food, 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
  • Safety considerations: Some people have pumpkin seed allergies

Uses of Pumpkin Seed Oil

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or doctor. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. 

Heart Health

Pumpkin seed oil's phytosterols and unsaturated fatty acid content have prompted research on its potential to lower cholesterol.

For example, a 2020 study published in The Journal of Food Science and Technology evaluated the effect of pumpkin seed oil on cholesterol and blood pressure. Researchers randomly assigned 120 participants with one or more health conditions, including dyslipidemia (abnormal blood lipids), hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and obesity, to an intervention or control group.

The intervention group received 1,000 mg of pumpkin seed oil, and the control group received a placebo. Both adhered to the American Heart Association's heart-healthy dietary guidelines. Compared to the control group, the pumpkin seed oil group showed a significant reduction in LDL ("bad") cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure and an increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Hair Loss

In animal experiments, phytosterols are antiandrogenic (meaning it blocks some hormones, including testosterone, from binding to receptors). Since testosterone activity plays a role in androgenetic alopecia (also called male pattern baldness), some researchers have wondered if those antiandrogenic effects could help hair loss.

For example, in a 2014 study, researchers looked at hair growth in males who took pumpkin seed oil. Participants took either a placebo or 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily for 24 weeks. Those who took the pumpkin seed oil saw a 40% increase in hair count, while those who took the placebo saw only a 10% increase in hair count. Even so, while the research is promising, some experts have challenged the study as incomplete.

A more recent 2021 study in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared pumpkin seed oil to minoxidil 5% foam on female pattern hair loss. Researchers randomly assigned participants to a pumpkin seed or minoxidil group for three months. The pumpkin seed group experienced a significant increase in upright regrowing hairs.

Menopausal Symptoms

Pumpkin seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are plant components that act as estrogens in the body. This has prompted some research on whether pumpkin seed oil could help with menopausal symptoms.

In a 2011 pilot study, researchers evaluated the effect of pumpkin seed oil on cholesterol and menopausal symptoms. Researchers gave 35 postmenopausal participants either pumpkin seed oil or wheat germ oil. They found that those who took pumpkin seed oil had increased HDL cholesterol and decreased diastolic blood pressure.

Additionally, the pumpkin seed oil group had significant improvement in menopausal symptoms, including:

The study authors said more research is needed to confirm their results.

Urinary Tract Health

The linoleic acid, oleic acid, and microelements in pumpkin seed oil have caused some researchers to wonder if pumpkin seed oil could improve urinary tract health. As such, some research has evaluated pumpkin seed oil's effect on overactive bladder (a sudden and frequent need to urinate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, commonly known as enlarged prostate).

In a 2014 study, researchers examined whether pumpkin seed oil improved overactive bladder. Researchers gave 45 participants pumpkin seed oil extract for 12 weeks. The study found that pumpkin seed oil significantly reduced overactive bladder symptoms.

Another 2021 randomized clinical trial compared pumpkin seed oil to Flomax (tamsulosin), a drug that treats prostate inflammation, on BPH symptom relief. Researchers randomized participants to receive 0.4 mg tamsulosin daily or 360 mg pumpkin seed oil twice a day.

Researchers found significant improvements in both groups. However, while the tamsulosin group experienced side effects like dizziness, headache, retrograde ejaculation (in which semen ejaculates backwards into the bladder), and erythema (skin redness), the pumpkin seed group did not.

Other

In addition to the potential health benefits listed above, some people use pumpkin seed oil to support:

What Are the Side Effects of Pumpkin Seed Oil?

Your healthcare provider may recommend taking pumpkin seed oil for health conditions like BPH, menopausal symptoms, or hair loss. However, consuming a supplement like pumpkin seed oil may have potential side effects. Research on pumpkin seed oil is limited but indicates that it does not usually produce side effects when taken as directed.

However, some people with food allergies or sensitivities may experience gastrointestinal symptoms or a rash.

Pumpkin seed oil

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Precautions

Pregnant or lactating people should avoid taking pumpkin seed oil in amounts higher than those found in food. That is because there is not enough evidence to support its safety in those groups.

Dosage: How Much Pumpkin Seed Oil Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the ingredients and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs. 

In research, study participants took the following dosages of pumpkin seed oil:

  • 1,000 mg for cholesterol and blood pressure
  • 400 mg for hair loss
  • 2,000 mg for menopausal symptoms
  • 360 mg for BPH

What Happens If I Take Too Much Pumpkin Seed Oil?

There is no recommended dosage or safe upper limit established for pumpkin seed oil. Therefore, working with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for you is essential. If you take more than what is recommended on a supplement label or more than your healthcare provider recommends, seek medical attention.

How to Store Pumpkin Seed Oil

Keep pumpkin seed oil in a cool cupboard, away from direct sunlight. Refrigeration is often recommended after opening.

If you refrigerate your pumpkin oil, bring it to room temperature before you use it. When stored properly, pumpkin oil can last up to two years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does pumpkin seed oil regrow hair?

    Possibly. Some research has found pumpkin seed oil can increase hair growth and hair count. For example, one study gave men 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil for 24 weeks. It found increased hair growth after treatment.

  • Can you cook with pumpkin seed oil?

    Yes, but only for dishes that do not require heating. The oil smokes when cooked, even at low temperatures. Use pumpkin seed oil in salad dressings, drizzle it over soups or roasted vegetables before serving, or mix it into ice cream. 

  • Does pumpkin seed oil increase breast size?

    Probably not. Pumpkin seed is sometimes recommended as a supplement to enhance breasts. That is because it has estrogenic properties. However, there is no research to confirm this benefit. 

Sources of Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is available as a cooking oil and as a supplement.

Food Sources of Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is available as a cooking oil. It has a nutty flavor, and you can use it in salad dressings and marinades. One tablespoon contains 130 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Pumpkin Seed Oil Supplements

As a supplement, pumpkin seed oil comes in dosages between 100 mg and 2,000 mg. Supplements come in soft gels, capsules, and liquid. Cold-pressed oil is considered to have more health benefits than oil extracted with heat.

Summary

Pumpkin seed oil comes from the seeds of the pumpkin. It is sold for cooking and as a health supplement. Some people take pumpkin seed oil to lower cholesterol, treat hair loss, ease menopause symptoms, and improve urinary health. While there is some research supporting these benefits, it is limited.

You can get more pumpkin seed oil in your diet by taking supplements or adding it to sauces and dressings. Look for cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil and store it in a cool place.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kang XC, Chen T, Zhou JL, et al. Phytosterols in hull-less pumpkin seed oil, rich in ∆7-phytosterols, ameliorate benign prostatic hyperplasia by lowing 5α-reductase and regulating balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis in ratsFood Nutr Res. 2021;65:10.29219/fnr.v65.7537. Published 2021 Dec 2. doi:10.29219/fnr.v65.7537

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Organic pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin.

  3. Majid AK, Ahmed Z, Khan R. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on cholesterol fractions and systolic/diastolic blood pressure. Food Sci Technol. 2020;40(3):769-777. doi: 10.1590/fst.03720

  4. Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, et al. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:54972. doi:10.1155/2014/549721

  5. Ibrahim IM, Hasan MS, Elsabaa KI, Elsaie ML. Pumpkin seed oil vs. minoxidil 5% topical foam for the treatment of female pattern hair loss: A randomized comparative trial. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021;20(9):2867-2873. doi:10.1111/jocd.13976

  6. Gossell-Williams M, Hyde C, Hunter T, et al. Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot studyClimacteric. 2011;14(5):558-564. doi:10.3109/13697137.2011.563882

  7. Nishimura M, Ohkawara T, Sato H, et al. Pumpkin seed oil extracted from Cucurbita maxima improves urinary disorder in human overactive bladder. J Tradit Complement Med. 2014;4(1):72-4. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.124355

  8. Shaban A, Sahu RP. Pumpkin seed oil: an alternative medicine. Int J Pharmacogn Phytochem Res. 2017;9(2):223-7. doi:10.25258/phyto.v9i2.8066

Additional Reading

By Malia Frey, MA, CHC, CPT
Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.