The pumpkin C. pepo may well be one of the first species of cultivated plants in the new world, if the archaeological records in Mexico which go back to 8750 B.C. are to be believed. Native American civilizations in south and Central America considered the pumpkins along with many other squash species, in addition to the beans and the corn plant, as being the "three sisters"- they formed the main food crops of all the early American civilizations and were cultivated together by native peoples. Nitrogen was fixed into the soil by the bean vines which also used the cornstalks as their fixed support for climbing. Squash with its large leaves was used to provide shade for growing the plants so as to help the soil retain moisture during arid seasons. The traditional and cultural representation of the pumpkin in European civilization can be inferred from the brother's Grimm's' fairy tale of Cinderella, in the story, the fairy godmother magically turns a large pumpkin into a golden coach for Cinderella. American culture also makes extensive use of the pumpkin as jack-o-lanterns during Halloween, as well as pumpkin cakes and pies. The festival of Halloween also sees the use of pumpkin shaped decorations in the houses and pumpkin like symbols in the trick or treat costumes used by children. Traditionally in folk medicine, the remedies made from the pumpkin were used in the treatment of disorders such as kidney inflammation and to eliminate intestinal parasites. The remedies made from pumpkin seeds were very highly regarded in the old days, and the pumpkin seed was recorded as a useful seed in the treatise "Four Greater Cold Seeds" a medical text listing medicines and cures of the 18th century. Disorders of the prostate gland, as well as problems such as an irritable bladder are treated using the pumpkin seeds these days, the greatest use for the pumpkin seed remedy is in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. A mildly diuretic action is found in the fatty oil of the pumpkin seeds, cucurbitacins which are the seeds' principal constituent, seem to be capable of inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into another analogue di-hydrotesterone in the body. Pumpkin seeds also contain the essential mineral zinc and amino acids which aid in the long term treatment of BPH in the body. Only the symptoms produced by an enlarged prostate are treated by the pumpkin, and the remedy is not capable of reduce the enlarged prostate gland itself. Disorders such as sudden spells of dizziness can also be treated by the pumpkin seed remedy. The use of the 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 remedy, as remedies which are stronger acting and far more toxic are unsuitable for such individuals - the pumpkin seeds affect a chemical free and natural removal of the intestinal parasites with no side effects whatsoever. The mildly diuretic action possessed by the pumpkin seeds made extensive use of in the herbal medicine systems of many Central American civilizations, the seeds were used in treating nephritis and alleviating other conditions affecting the urinary system. In the very early stages of prostate problems, pumpkin varieties which have a high zinc content, possesses a strong diuretic action and have a tonic effect on the bladder are often recommended to the patient - such varieties are ideal for dealing with eh early signs of prostate disorders. Intestinal inflammation can be treated by consuming an herbal decoction made from the pumpkin pulp; the pumpkin pulp is also used as an herbal poultice or plaster in treating burns and external problems of all kinds. The pumpkin was one of the main crops of the Native Americans and the plant was noticed by the earliest European explorers who arrived in America - the natives usually cultivated the pumpkin in their maize fields. The colonists found out that pumpkin was used for medicinal purposes as well as for food by the natives. The Native American Yuma tribe for example, traditionally made use of an emulsion produced from a mixture of the pumpkin and watermelon seeds to heal wounds and other external injuries. The fresh or dried seeds of the pumpkin were used as a kidney medicine by the Catawba people, who ate the fresh or dried seeds as treatment, urinary problems were treated by the Menominee people by drinking water in which some powdered squash and pumpkin seeds was mixed, this aided in the passage of urine and relieved symptoms. The colonists soon came up with their own uses for the medicinal qualities of pumpkin and the prone stems of the pumpkin were brewed into a herbal tea, and this tea was used to treat female ills. The colonist also learnt of the anti-helminthes nature of the ripe seeds, these were ground down and made into a palatable preparation to aid in the removal of worms from the digestive system. The use of pumpkin seeds is also advocated by the modern folk healers as an aid to ridding the body of infestations from intestinal worms, these folk therapists also suggest that the oil from the seeds can effectively aid in healing all kinds of burns and wounds on the skin.
The cultivation of pumpkins is carried out worldwide due to its widespread use in many cuisines; however, pumpkin cultivation is greater in scale in the temperate regions of the world. Temperate North America is where the pumpkin originated.
Pumpkin seeds contain 30% unsaturated fixed oil (which includes linoleic and oleic fatty acids). The seeds also contain cucurbitacins, vitamins, and minerals, notably zinc.
The herbal pumpkin remedy is prepared from a seed mixture by beating about 2 ounces or 60 grams of the dried seeds in about the same amount of sugar mixed in some milk or water. The prepared mixture is added up to a pint and drunk during a fasting stage. The dosage regimen consists of three essential doses, each dose is drunk once every two hours in the day, the last and third dose of the day is followed several hours later, by a drink of castor oil to complete the dosage regimen.
Pumpkins are usually harvested late in the summer, at these time, seeds are removed from the pulp inside the pumpkin and stored for later use, while the pulp itself is used for food.