Pumpkin Seed Oil for Interstitial Cystitis

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Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition causing bladder pain, pressure, and pelvic pain and, it is poorly understood. This condition is a part of a spectrum of diseases called painful bladder syndrome. The pumpkin seed oil has shown results for the prevention and treatment of urinary disorders like interstitial cystitis. Pumpkin seed oil is intriguing, to say the least, as it’s known for its excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic, antidiabetic, anticancer, cardioprotective, and antioxidant properties. A study shows that when 10 grams of pumpkin seed oil was administered orally for 12 weeks, it significantly reduced the symptoms and the degree of overactive bladder syndrome in 45 male and female subjects.

Pumpkin seed oil, as the name suggests, is derived from pumpkin seeds. It has traditionally been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. It is grown in Asia and Africa but is found all over America and Europe.

Pumpkin seeds come from several species including, Cucurbita pepo, moschata, mixta, and maxima. The different species have a slight variation in their nutritional components but have similar health benefits.

In this article, we’ll explore scientific proof that pumpkin seed oil can be beneficial for bladder health-related conditions. We will also learn a little more about interstitial cystitis, its causes, and treatments.

In addition, we will see which kind of pumpkin seed oil is best for your bladder.

What is so special about pumpkin seeds?

Fortunately, the month of Halloween has a treat for those with bladder problems, and it is the mighty pumpkin or, more specifically, the pumpkin seeds and its oil!

The best type of pumpkin seed oil

The production method of the oil is crucial to maintaining the quality of the oil. Refined oils undergo extraction using very high temperatures which, destroy the nutrients that it has.

It also increases the oxidation which, can make the oil rancid. On the other hand, virgin oil extracted mechanically retains more nutrients like vitamins and fats.

So when you shop for pumpkin seed oil, remember to pick unrefined, virgin, and cold-pressed oils as they are more beneficial to your health.

Nutritional properties

Pumpkin seeds oils contain significant amounts of the following:

  • Vitamin E and Vitamin K
  • Fats – Polyunsaturated fats, called healthy fats
  • Phytosterols – plant cholesterol that helps reduce our cholesterol level
  • Proteins
  • Iron
  • Potassium, zinc, manganese phosphorous, and other beneficial minerals

Therapeutic properties

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial 
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Analgesic

In addition, research has shown that it is a powerhouse to help prevent metabolic diseases like fatty liver, diabetes, and heart disease. It improves the metabolization of cholesterol in the body.

Even eating whole pumpkin seeds can be beneficial to your bladder health.

The best way to consume them is to eat the seeds whole as the virgin oil can lose some nutrients and has traces of trans fats.

The pumpkin seeds contain the following:

  • Carotenoids – An important antioxidant.
  • Fiber – Increase in fiber intake treats constipations. Bladder conditions are related to constipation. So, it is healthy for your bladder as well as your digestive system.
  • Zinc and magnesium: Important for sperm quality, heart and bone health

Bladder health

The exact mechanism of action that is responsible for the health benefits of pumpkin seeds is still unknown. But, Its sitosterol content and the high levels of magnesium seem to have a crucial role in it.

They have also proven to inhibit fast-growing cells like cancer and do not affect normal cells. It also does not change the sensitivity of receptors for hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.

Pumpkin seeds inhibit 2 enzymes, 5-alpha reductase & aromatase. It helps to slow down the overactive bladder by decreasing prostate growth in men. It also increases testosterone.

An increase in testosterone levels helps strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in both men and women.

The compounds in pumpkin seeds strengthen the sphincter muscles and detrusor muscles.

It also helps to relax the bladder wall to increase the capacity to hold urine, decrease the sense of urgency, decrease bladder spasms and thus decrease the frequency of urination.

What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome is a chronic bladder health problem. It has symptoms that have lasted for more than 6 weeks.

The symptoms vary depending from person to person but generally accompany pain and discomfort in the bladder area.

It is not clearly understood because the etiology of this disorder is not known, and it occurs without infection or other causes.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pelvic pain or perineum pain in females
  • Scrotum pain or perineum pain in men
  • The urgency to urinate persistently
  • Urinating small amounts and very frequently
  • Dyspareunia (pain during sex)
  • Pain with a full bladder
  • Relief from pain after urination


Doctors do not know the specific cause but, they theorize that it could be the following:

  • A defected bladder tissue or irritant in the urine penetrates the bladder wall due to defected tissue.
  • A mast cell or inflammatory cell that, releases histamine and other chemicals that causes it.
  • Urine is damaging the bladder.
  • Nerves may be defected in carrying sensations. So, usual events (bladder filling) which are not painful suddenly become very painful.
  • An autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the bladder.

You are more like to develop this condition if you have had a bladder infection or injury previously.


Current best practice management

Phase 1: Lifestyle Changes

It includes limiting specific food, trying an elimination diet, lowering stress levels, and undergoing physical therapy. You can incorporate pumpkin seeds and oil into your diet.

Phase 2: Prescription Drugs

When lifestyle changes don’t show results, your doctor may ask you to try prescription drugs. It can be any type, oral and intravesical. Intravesical drugs are placed in the bladder with a catheter.

Phase 3: Neuromodulation Therapy, Ulcer Cauterization & Injections

If lifestyle changes and prescription drugs don’t work, you may be advised neuromodulation therapy.

Neuromodulation therapy is a treatment that delivers electrical impulses to your nerves to modify how they work.

Cauterization of any bladder ulcers and botox injections that paralyze muscles that are overworking is also recommended.

Phase 4: Cyclosporine

It is an immunosuppressant and can lower your capacity to fight the disease. You must decide if the symptoms justify the risks.

Phase 5: Surgery

It is rarely indicated.


Interstitial cystitis is a condition that is very vaguely understood. New and improved treatments keep coming up every day.

Pumpkin seeds and their oil have proven to be beneficial for conditions like interstitial cystitis.

It also has various health benefits and, it’s known to be beneficial for bladder health as well.

Including good quality virgin, cold-pressed pumpkin seeds oil and pumpkin seeds as a whole into your diet can help you with your bladder symptoms. 

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Physical Therapist / Writer

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Nutrition & Diet