How Pumpkin Seeds Work, Results, Usage, and Side Effects

The quest for effective natural remedies for hair loss has led to an interest in pumpkin seeds as a solution. Rich in nutrients like zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, pumpkin seeds are believed to play a role in promoting scalp health and hair growth. Their unique composition, which includes the inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – a hormone linked to hair loss – makes them an intriguing option for those seeking natural treatments. This article will explore how incorporating pumpkin seeds into one’s diet or using them in topical applications can potentially contribute to reducing hair loss, examining the scientific rationale behind their use and the practical ways to harness their benefits for hair health.

Cut up pumpkin showing the seeds

What Are Pumpkin Seeds?

Pumpkin seeds are a natural approach to combat hair loss, primarily due to their nutritional profile and potential biological effects. These seeds are a valuable source of nutrients like zinc, essential for hair growth and repair, and fatty acids that promote hair thickness and shine. Additionally, they contain compounds that may inhibit the action of 5-alpha-reductase. This is an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone linked to certain types of hair loss. By potentially reducing DHT levels, pumpkin seeds could help slow the progression of hair thinning. These can be consumed as part of a balanced diet or used as oil in topical hair treatments. Pumpkin seeds offer a natural, nutrient-rich option for those exploring ways to maintain or improve their hair health.

How Pumpkin Seeds Treat Hair Loss

Pumpkin seeds may contribute to treating hair loss through several mechanisms, largely attributed to their nutritional composition and specific natural compounds:

  • Nutrient-Rich Profile: They are packed with nutrients that are essential for healthy hair. This includes zinc, which is a mineral known for its role in hair growth and repair. It also includes iron, which is crucial for the transportation of oxygen to hair follicles, supporting their health and vitality.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to enhance hair thickness and shine. These fatty acids nourish the hair follicles and scalp, potentially improving hair density and preventing hair loss.
  • Phytosterols, Particularly Beta-Sitosterol: They contain phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol. These compounds are believed to inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that is linked to certain types of hair loss, such as androgenetic alopecia. By reducing DHT levels, they may help in slowing hair thinning.
  • Antioxidant Properties: They are rich in antioxidants, which protect hair follicles from damage caused by free radicals. This oxidative stress protection can be beneficial in maintaining hair follicle health and preventing hair loss.
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: The anti-inflammatory properties can contribute to a healthy scalp environment, which is essential for hair growth and maintenance.

Empirical Evidence

A randomized, double blind, placebo trial was conducted in 2014 to evaluate the efficacy of pumpkin seed oil in treating male pattern baldness. The main findings of the study were:

  • Increased Hair Count: Men who took pumpkin seed oil showed a significant increase in hair count compared to the placebo group. This suggests that pumpkin seed oil was effective in promoting hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia.
  • Safety and Tolerability: Pumpkin seed oil was well-tolerated by the participants, with no significant side effects reported. This indicates that it could be a safe option for those looking for natural remedies for hair loss.
  • Comparison with Placebo: The improvement in hair count in the pumpkin seed oil group was statistically significant when compared to the placebo group, underscoring the potential effectiveness of pumpkin seed oil in treating hair loss.
Clinical results of using pumpkin seeds to treat hair loss

Clinical results of using pumpkin seeds compared to a placebo in treating hair loss after 24 weeks. 


User-reported results of using pumpkin seeds for hair loss vary, reflecting personal experiences shared across forums, blogs, and product reviews. These anecdotal accounts include:

  • Reduced Hair Shedding: Many users report a noticeable reduction in hair shedding after incorporating them into their diet or using oil topically. They attribute this improvement to the seeds’ nutritional content, particularly zinc and fatty acids.
  • Improved Hair Thickness: Some individuals notice an increase in hair thickness and strength. This is often linked to the nutrient-rich profile of them, which is thought to nourish hair follicles.
  • Enhanced Hair Growth: A number of users claim to experience enhanced hair growth, including in areas where thinning was more pronounced. However, these reports are subjective and vary widely among different individuals.
  • Scalp Health: Their anti-inflammatory properties are noted by some users to contribute to better scalp health, which is an important factor in healthy hair growth.
  • Mixed Effectiveness: As with many natural remedies, the effectiveness of them for hair loss seems to vary significantly. While some users report positive effects, others do not notice any significant improvement in their hair loss condition.
  • Long-term Use for Results: Many users point out that consistent and long-term use of seeds or oil is necessary to see noticeable results.
  • Overall Wellness Benefits: Some users also note general health benefits, like improved skin and nails, which they attribute to the nutritional value of them.
Before and after results of using pumpkin seeds to treat hair loss

Comparison showing the results of using pumpkin seeds to treat hair loss after 24 weeks.

How to Use Pumpkin Seeds

Using pumpkin seeds to treat hair loss involves incorporating them into your diet or using pumpkin seed oil topically. Here’s how you can use pumpkin seeds effectively:

  • Dietary Intake:
    • Consume raw or roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack. A handful of pumpkin seeds daily can contribute essential nutrients beneficial for hair growth.
    • You can also add them to salads, yogurts, smoothies, or cereals to enhance their nutritional profile.
    • Remember, a balanced diet is crucial; they should complement a diet rich in various vitamins and minerals.
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil:
    • Use pumpkin seed oil as a scalp treatment. Massage the oil into your scalp and leave it on for about 15-30 minutes, or even overnight. Then wash it out with a mild shampoo.
    • You can also mix pumpkin seed oil with other hair-beneficial oils like coconut or jojoba oil for an enhanced effect.
  • Supplements:
    • Pumpkin seed oil is available in capsule form as a dietary supplement. Follow the recommended dosage on the product label or as advised by a healthcare professional.
    • Consistency is key for supplements to be effective, and it may take a few months to notice any changes.
  • Topical Hair Products:
    • Look for shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks that contain pumpkin seed oil as an ingredient.
  • Be Patient and Consistent:
    • Natural remedies typically require time to show results. Consistency and patience are important.

Safety and Side Effects

Using pumpkin seeds for hair loss is generally considered safe for most people, especially when consumed as part of a balanced diet. However, like any supplement or dietary change, there can be potential side effects, particularly if consumed in excessive amounts:

  • Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may have an allergy to pumpkin seeds, which can cause reactions such as skin rashes, itching, or gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Digestive Issues: Overconsumption of pumpkin seeds may lead to digestive problems like bloating, gas, or diarrhea due to their high fiber content.
  • Caloric Intake: Pumpkin seeds are calorie-dense, so eating them in large quantities could contribute to weight gain if not balanced with other dietary considerations.
  • Interference with Nutrient Absorption: Pumpkin seeds contain phytic acid, which can bind with minerals like zinc and iron and potentially interfere with their absorption.
  • Interactions with Medications: Pumpkin seeds have a high magnesium content, which can interact with certain medications, including diuretics, antibiotics, and medications for osteoporosis.
  • Hormonal Effects: Because pumpkin seeds may have an impact on hormones, particularly testosterone and DHT levels, they should be used cautiously, especially in individuals with hormone-sensitive conditions.
  • Blood Pressure Fluctuations: Pumpkin seeds can lower blood pressure, so individuals with hypotension or those on blood pressure medications should be cautious.
  • Topical Use Considerations: When using pumpkin seed oil topically, there’s a risk of skin irritation or allergic reaction, particularly for those with sensitive skin. A patch test is recommended before widespread use.


In conclusion, pumpkin seeds offer a natural, nutrient-rich option for individuals exploring alternative approaches to treating hair loss. Rich in essential nutrients like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, they hold potential in promoting scalp health and hair growth, particularly due to their role in potentially inhibiting DHT production. While incorporating pumpkin seeds into the diet or using pumpkin seed oil topically can be a beneficial addition to a hair care regimen, it’s important to approach this remedy with realistic expectations and an understanding of its limitations. Individual results may vary, and pumpkin seeds are best used as part of a holistic approach to hair health that includes a balanced diet and proper hair care. In the realm of natural remedies for hair loss, pumpkin seeds stand out as a promising and accessible option worth considering.


  • Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (2014)

Note: This piece serves as an informative overview. Individual responses may vary, and consultation with a qualified medical professional is indispensable before initiating any therapeutic regimen.

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