Pumpkin (Nan Gua)

Pumpkin – Nan Gua, Nan Gua Pi (Pumpkin Seeds)

Botanical Name: Cucurbita (Pumpkin), Cucurbita pepo L. (Pumpkin Seeds)

Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are both high in zinc and vitamin A making them a wonderful food and herb to help support menses, strengthen the prostrate, and aid fertility. They can also help treat urinary tract infections and support the kidneys.

Below is an overview of pumpkin, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of pumpkin.

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Western Name: Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds

Also Known As: Squash, Pepitas

Organs/Systems: Reproductive Systems, Lungs, Intestines

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Vermifuge, Anthelmintic (expels intestinal worms), Taeniacide (kills tapeworms), Hyptensive, Hypoglycemic, Diuretic, Laxative.


Pin Yin: Nan Gua (Pumpkin), Nan Gua Pi (Pumpkin Seeds)

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Kidney, Large Intestines, Spleen, Stomach

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Resolves Damp/Expels Worms: dysentery, diarrhea, eczema, stomach aches, hemorrhoids, intestinal worms. Relieves Pain/Calms Fetus/Promotes Lactation: Joint pain and swellings due to dampness, improve lactation, benefit postpartum fluid metabolism (especially hand and feet swelling). Some say it is an antidote for opium.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Pumpkins are in the Cucurbitaceae family of squashes. They are a herbaceous annual vine. Harvested and dried in the Summer and Fall when the squash is ripe. Native to North America, now cultivated worldwide in temperate regions.

Pumpkin (Nan Gua) Parts Most Frequently Used: Flesh (Pulp), Seeds

Flavors/Temps: Sweet, Cooling, Slightly Bitter

Caution: Careful if using to expel worms while pregnant.

History/Folklore: Pumpkins have been cultivated in Mexico and North America since at least 14,000 B.C.  Typically the seeds are used medicinally, but the pulp is a highly nutritional food as well and is often baked, or used in stews and soups. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron and have been taken as a supplement to increase iron in adults.

The word for pumpkin originates from the Greek word for “large melon” which is “pepon.”

Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are not taken as a tea or in tincture form. Pumpkins can be eaten in various preparations including baked, roasted or in soups. Pumpkin seeds can be crushed and ground to make poultices or to toss on salads.

To treat intestinal worms it is suggested grinding 200-400 grams of dried unpeeled seeds into a pulp, mix with milk and honey until you have a porridge-like consistency and take it on an empty stomach in the morning, followed by castor oil 2-3 hours later. Repeat the next morning.

Pumpkin seed oil taken internally (10 drops 3X day) can help treat urinary tract infections, and help strengthen the lungs.

In Germany, the seeds were discovered to help stimulate sex hormones.

Native Americans prized pumpkins as a nutritional food, medicine and used dried pieces of the squash to weave into mats. Most American Indian Nations have their own traditional methods for preparing pumpkins. Grown alongside corn and beans, pumpkins are one of the mythological Three Sisters of American Indian agriculture.  Ancient pumpkin containers have been found in Mexico dating back as far as 7,000 B.C.  Some tribes dried and ground the seeds into flour to mix with corn meal to make bread with. The Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo tribes all have Pumpkin Clans, and some Pueblo tribes also have a traditional Pumpkin Flower Dance.

Pumpkins are considered good at strengthening the mucous membrane of organs, especially the lungs and nasal passages. Being high in Vitamin A content it is also good for treating the eyes, bladder and kidneys.  Pumpkin can help regulate blood sugar levels.

Pumpkins have long been associated with magic and the Pagan holiday of Samhain (pronounced sow-in),which is the official end of summer and the harvest season.  The ancient Celts believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead were extremely thin at this time of year, allowing the dead to cross over into the world of the living. The dead could be seen as ghosts, or black cats.  With the arrival of Christianity to Ireland this holiday was incorporated into All Souls Day (November 1). It is the Irish that are credited with carving pumpkins to celebrate All Souls Day, also called Halloween. As the Irish immigrants came to America and discovered pumpkins, it was an easy transition from the much smaller squashes they had traditionally used to represent “Jack-O-Latern.” Previously they had used rutabagas or turnips, which were much smaller.  Carving pumpkins into a “Jack-O-Latern” went with their tale of Stingy Jack who played a trick on the devil that backfired and left him to wander the earth for ever more stuck between heaven and hell. As time went by the tradition took hold and became a symbol of Halloween, with pumpkins being carved every year as part of the holiday fun and decorations.

Some identify the pumpkin with the fire element due to its color and others to water as it is high in water content. Their scent is sweet, warming and soothing.

A quart of tea with one-and-a-half cups of pumpkin seeds added and brought to a boil can help treat gout. Take one cup every two hours.

Farmers even use cooked pumpkins to help aid animal digestive disorders such as constipation or diarrhea.

Ethiopians chew pumpkin seeds as a natural laxative.

In China the raw seeds are used medicinally to kill parasites, benefit pregnant women, prevent prostate disease, and protect the gums. The Chinese will mix walnuts, peanuts and pumpkin seeds to help heal malnutrition.

In China the pumpkin is a symbol of prosperity and fruitfulness. Enjoyed during the Chinese New Year celebrations it is symbol for health, happiness and prosperity.

Key Constituents:

Iron, Tannins, Cyanide (in seeds), Esssential fatty acids (Linoleic acid being the main Fatty acid), Sterols, Sterol glycosides, Cucurbitine, Tocopherols, Vitamin A and E, Zinc, Selenium, Potassium, Copper, Phosphorous, Phytosterols.

Did you know?

Kill Intestinal Worms

Pumpkin seeds kill intestinal worms.


Enlarged Prostrates

Pumpkin seeds do NOT reduce an enlarged prostrate, but they can help reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostrate.

Fun fact!

Isquotom Squash

Native Americans called pumpkins “isquotom squash.” Squash is a Native American word.


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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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