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July 2020
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Pumpkin Prevention

Study Says Pumpkin Proteins Have Antibiotic-Like Properties

Study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that pumpkin extract can help treat yeast infections.

Study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that pumpkin extract can help treat yeast infections.

Whether it’s stowed within a cornucopia for your Thanksgiving centerpiece, out on the front stoop as a Jack-o’-lantern, or stashed as seeds in your glove compartment, pumpkins are found in lots of unusual places this time of year.  And in the not-too-distant future, it could take up residence in another unusual locale:  your medicine cabinet.

A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says that pumpkin—the skin of it, particularly—can help fight infections associated with microbes that lead to yeast infections.

Treatment for yeast infections are typically medicinal and often involve antibiotics.  But because antibiotics have been handed out like candy at a Thanksgiving parade—never mind that they often lead to yeast infections—doctors are becoming increasingly loath to be so liberal in offering them.  Why?  Because the widespread use of antibiotics has enabled microbes to adapt and become resistant to them, forming what are known as “superbugs.”  That pumpkin extract could further reduce the use of antibiotics is really what makes this finding so exciting.

According to the study’s head honcho, Kyung-Soo Hahm, when he and fellow researchers extracted proteins from pumpkin rinds and mixed them with Candida albicans, they inhibited its growth.  And its growth is what leads to the development of yeast infections.  Candida albicans is the microbe that leads to yeast infections, but they can also lead to other diseases and infections, like diaper rash in infants and leaky gut syndrome in adults.  The presence of Candida albicans is determined by a simple blood test.

Yeast infections are extremely common in women, as three out of four women will get at least one in their lifetime, and two out of four will get more than one.  Yeast infections form when too much yeast grows within the vaginal walls.  The production of yeast is normal, but when there’s excessive wetness in the vaginal area over prolonged periods, yeast infections will often result.  Other common causes for excessive yeast growth include having diabetes, being overweight or being immunodeficient.  Common symptoms associated with yeast infections include excessive itching and burning, experiencing pain during intercourse and/or producing a thick, pasty-white discharge.

Up to now, the pumpkin pretty much had one of two functions:  For decoration or for nutrition.  Who’d have thought it could wind up being used for infections as well?


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