Related entry: Colocynthis (U. S. P.)—Colocynth
"The seed of Cucurbita Pepo, Linné"—(U. S. P.).
COMMON NAME: Pumpkin seed.
Botanical Source.—Cucurbita Pepo is an annual plant, hispid and scabrous, with a procumbent stem and branching tendrils. Its leaves are large, cordate, palmately 5-lobed, or angled and denticulate. The flowers are yellow large, axillary, and the males long-pedunculate. Corolla campanulate; the petals united and coherent with the calyx. The calyx of the male flowers is 5-toothed; of the female the same, the upper part being deciduous after flowering; the stigmas are 3, thick, and 2-lobed; the pepo, or fruit, subligneous, very large, roundish, or oblong, smooth, yellow when ripe, furrowed and torulose, containing yellowish seeds, somewhat resembling those of the watermelon in form (W.).
History.—The pumpkin flowers in July, and matures its fruit in September and October. It is a native of the Levant, and is extensively cultivated as a kitchen vegetable, and for cattle. The seeds of this plant are used in medicine, and have long been popular with the laity as a remedy for worms. An oil may be obtained from the pumpkin seeds by expression. The West India seeds are more active as an anthelmintic than our own.
Description.—The seeds are "about 2 Cm. (⅘ inch) long, broadly-ovate, flat, white or whitish, nearly smooth, with a shallow groove parallel to the edge; containing a short, conical radicle, and 2 flat cotyledons; inodorous; taste bland and oily"—(U. S. P.).
Chemical Composition.—Pumpkin seeds are composed of 25 per cent of husks and 75 per cent of kernels, and contain upward of 33 per cent of a reddish fixed oil, which, according to Kopylow (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1877, p. 23), consists of the glycerides of palmitic, myristic, and oleic acids. These also occur partly in the free state. No alkaloid was found in the seeds, nor the glucosid, cucurbitin, of Dorner and Wolkowitsch (1870). According to Dr. L. Wolff (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1882, p. 382), the active (taenifuge) principle is a greenish-brown, acrid, bitter resin (Heckel, 1875) not contained in the petroleum-benzin extract of the seeds, but in the extract obtained with ether. It is also soluble in alcohol and chloroform. Its dose, as a taenifuge, is 15 grains, in pill form. The fatty oil is soluble in absolute, but not in 95 per cent alcohol (W. E. Miller, ibid., 1891, p. 385). Air-dried pumpkin seeds contain about 3.7 per cent of ash. The juice of pumpkin pulp contains 1.6 per cent of dextrose and 0.9 per cent of cane sugar (Mr. Both, in Dragendorff's Heilpflanzen, 1899, p. 650). The coloring matter of the pumpkin is due to carotin (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1896, p. 84).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Mucilaginous, taenicide, and diuretic, and of service in strangury and urinary affections, also in gastritis, enteritis, and febrile diseases. The infusion may be drank freely. The expressed oil of the pumpkin seeds, in doses of 6 to 12 drops, several times a day, is said to be a most certain and efficient diuretic, giving quick relief in scalding of urine, spasmodic affections of the urinary passages, and has cured gonorrhoea. Half a fluid ounce of oil of pumpkin seeds, taken upon a fasting stomach, repeated in 2 hours, and in another 2 hours followed by a dose of castor oil containing ½ fluid ounce of the pumpkin-seed oil, has been effectual in removing tapeworm. The following mixture has been found efficient in the removal of tapeworm: Take of the ethereal oil of pumpkin seeds, 1 fluid ounce; ethereal extract of male fern, 1 fluid drachm; sugar, 2 drachms; water, 4 fluid ounces; rub the oil with the sugar, then the extract, and finally add, gradually, the water. One-fourth of this is a dose, to be repeated every hour. An infusion of the seeds has also been found effectual in removing tapeworm. The method now chiefly pursued is to have the patient fast for a day and take a saline cathartic to wash the intestinal mucus, etc., from the worm. Then, the patient being kept in bed to prevent emesis, administer to him 3 doses of ⅓ of a pint each, every 2 hours, of an emulsion prepared from the fresh seeds beaten with pulverized sugar and diluted with milk or water. After a few hours, a purgative, like castor oil, may be administered to aid in the expulsion of the worm. This is also effectual in removing the roundworm. It was formerly believed that the taenifuge properties resided in the external covering of the seeds, but later investigations do not confirm this view.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Tapeworm; roundworm; ardor urinae.
Related Species.—Citrullus vulgaris, Schrader (Cucurbita Citrullus, Linné; Cucumis Citrullus of Seringe); Watermelon. This is a native of Africa and southern Asia, and is cultivated in this country for its large and delicious fruit, which is usually ripened in August, the flowers appearing in June, and July. The fruit contains many obovate, smooth, compressed seeds, thickened at the margin, and of a black or yellowish-white color (W.). The fleshy, juicy pulp of the watermelon is diuretic, and forms a grateful article of diet for febrile patients, when not contraindicated. Watermelon seeds possess properties similar to pepo, and, as a diuretic (infusion of bruised seeds) is one of the mildest and best we possess. Acetate of potassium added to it, increases its efficiency and augments the excretion of the solid constituents of the urine. F. Popow (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1888, p. 51) found the edible portion of the watermelon to consist of water (94.96 per cent) and dry substance (5.04 per cent); the latter was composed of nitrogenous matter (0.67 per cent), dextrose (3.67 per cent), laevulose (0.46 PH, cent), mucilage (0.05 per cent), fat (0.06 per cent), cellulose (0.10 per cent), and mineral matter (0.28 per cent). The seeds contain resin (2.3 per cent), albumen (6 per cent), and dextrose (3 per cent) (Dragendorff's Heilpflanzen, 1899, p. 650).
Lagenaria vulgaris, Seringe (Cucurbita Lagenaria, Linné); Gourd, or Calabash.—Pulp is occasionally bitter and purgative (A. De Candolle, 1882).
Cucumis sativus, Linné; Cucumber.—This plant is too well known to require description. Both the fruit and seeds are employed. The latter contain, besides mucilage, a bland, fixed oil, of a pale-yellow color, to the amount of about 32 per cent. Prof. Procter proposed, in 1853, a cucumber ointment, prepared as follows: Take green cucumbers, 7 pounds; suet, 15 ounces; lard, 24 ounces. Grate the fruit and express the juice. Then melt together the lard and suet, and, when sufficiently cooled so as to form a semisolid mass, gradually incorporate with it the cucumber juice, adding about one-third of it each time. After some time, melt the whole mixture, strain, and keep in glass containers, covering the ointment with rose-water. Close the jar securely. When needed, take out a portion, and mix it to a white, creamy paste by triturating it with a small amount of rose-water. Cucumber seeds have been used for diuretic purposes like other seeds of this class. The ointment is emollient, and may be applied to cuts, abrasions, etc. Dr. J. M. Scudder (Spec. Med., p. 119) advised a tincture of green cucumber, prepared with 98 per cent alcohol for "irritation of the urinary passages, sharp pain in the loins, and rheumatic pains in the shoulders." Cramp-like pains in the shoulder and loins, with inability to urinate, are the indications given by Dr. O. H. Rohde (Trans. of N. Y. Ec. Med. Assoc., Vol. XVII, p. 165).
Momordica balsamina, Linné; Balsam-apple.—This long-ovate fruit, tapering at each extremity, has been used considerably as a vulnerary. It is verrucose, orange or bright-red, rather angular and spontaneously divides laterally, displaying an interior containing oval, flat, brown seeds, somewhat rugose, and imbedded in a fleshy arillus of a red color. The root and fruit are both purgative. Two drachms of balsam-apple are said to have killed a dog. A preparation of the fruit (without the seeds), infused in almond or olive oil, has been employed considerably in prolapsus ani, hemorrhoids, burns, scalds, chapped hands, and old ulcerations. An extract of it has been praised for its curative effects in dropsy. Balsam-apple, infused in whiskey, is quite largely employed by the German population of this country as a vulnerary. It is often applied to chilblains. Internally, an alcoholic tincture and a jelly have been employed for the relief of pain in the chest from in acute colds, and in pulmonary congestion. Proper doses relieve gastro-intestinal irritation, and give relief in gastro-intestinal pains, particularly in colic.
Cucurbita Melopepo, Linné; Squash.
Cucumis Melo, Linné; Muskmelon.—The seeds of this and the foregoing species possess similar properties to those of pepo, but in a milder degree. The seeds contain 39 per cent of fatty oil. From the root an emetic principle, melon-emetine, was isolated, in 1887 (Pharm. Centralhalle, p. 600), by Heberger and Jorosiewicz.
Cucurbita maxima, Duchesne.—Improperly called Gourd. Seeds contain sugar, gum, all aromatic body, a soluble organic acid, yellow, bland fixed oil (25 per cent), and emulsin, but no alkaloid nor a glucosid (Cadenberg, 1881). The seeds give, on rubbing with water, a bland, white emulsion.