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HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE: Pumpkin seed oil as effective as leading antihypertensive medication

A new aminal study just published in the Journal of Medicinal Food (J Med Food 15 [2] 2012, 180–189) has shown that pumpkin seed oil can provide fully comparable antihypertensive benefits to standard medication. The study was a multi-departmental one conducted at Cairo University and compared the effects of pumpkin seed oil, the calcium channel blocker Amlodipine and control using a rat model.

Hypertension was created in the rats by use of the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor N?-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (l-NAME). Rats were divided into 5 groups, control, l-NAME dosed only, and 3 treated groups involving amlodipine and 2 different dosages of pumpkin seed oil, PSO. Doses of PSO used were 40 or 100?mg/kg.

The test ran for 6 weeks and involved measurement of arterial blood pressure (BP), heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG) changes, levels of serum nitric oxide (NO) (the concentrations of nitrite/nitrate), plasma malondialdehyde (MDA), blood glutathione, and erythrocytic superoxide dismutase activity.

The results were most impressive for the pumpkin seed oil and essentially showed that the artifically induced hypertension was significantly reduced by both the the amlodipine and by PSO administration comparably. Attenuation of the elevated BP was evidenced in prolonged RR interval, increased P wave duration, and ST elevation. Both treatments significantly decreased the elevated levels of MDA and reversed the decreased levels of NO metabolites to near normal values compared with the l-NAME only treated group.

Both the amlodopine and the higher does of PSO showed similar decreases in heart rate whereas such was not found in the lower PSO dosage group.

Amlodipine only significantly increased blood glutathione content compared with normal (but not l-NAME-treated) rats.

Significantly, histology revealed that pumpkin seed oil as well as amlodipine treatment protected against pathological alterations in heart and aorta induced by l-NAME.

The report concludes that this study has shown that pumpkin seed oil exhibits an antihypertensive and cardioprotective effects through a mechanism that may involve generation of NO.

 We feel that this interesting study suggests a need for more work with pumpkin seed oil in the management of hypertension.

What is siginficant also to consider is that PSO appears to offer a great deal of other benefits for overall health also, beyond simply BP management. Pumpkin seed contains a number of anti-inflammatory fatty acids (principally gamma linolenic), anti-oxidant tocopherols and carotentoids and several potentially very interesting phytoestrogens, one of which, secoisolariciresinol has been shown in earlier work to markedly lower arterial blood pressure in rats. Being also a great source of potassium, iron, zinc and phosphorous, pumpkin seeds or oil made from them really ought to be on most of our shopping lists if they aren't already.

© SmartEatersTM 2012