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Pepo. U. S. (Br.) Pepo [Pumpkin Seed]

"The dried ripe seeds of cultivated varieties of Cucurbita Pepo Linné (Fam. Cucurbitaceae), without the presence or admixture of more than 5 per cent. of other substances." U. S. "Melon Pumpkin Seeds are the prepared fresh ripe seeds of cultivated plants of Cucurbita maxima, Duch. Melon Pumpkin Seeds must not be more than one month old, and when required for use about 100 grammes are bruised with a little water or milk to a creamy consistence and administered as a single dose." Br.

Cucurbitae Semina Praeparata. Br.; Melon Pumpkin Seeds; Semen Peponis, Semina Cucurbitae; Semences de Potirons ou de Courge, Fr.; Kürbissamen, Kürbiskörner, Graumontsamen, G.; Calabaza (Semilla), Sp.

The Cucurbita Pepo, or common pumpkin, is a plant almost too well known to need description. The seeds are the part used. These are officially described as follows: "Broadly elliptical or ovate, from 15 to 23 mm. in length and from 2 to 3 mm. in thickness; externally yellowish-white, very smooth, occasionally with thin, transparent fragments of adhering pulp and with a shallow groove parallel to and within 1 mm. of the margin; fracture short, seed-coat consisting of a white coriaceous outer layer and a membranous inner layer occasionally of a dark green color; embryo whitish, straight, with a small conical hypocotyl and two plano-convex cotyledons; slightly odorous when contused; taste bland and oily. Under the microscope, sections of Pepo show an outer epidermal layer consisting of palisade-like cells, the radial walls attaining a length of 1 mm., the outer walls being usually torn off so that it appears as though the seeds were covered with very long hairs; a sub-epidermal layer consisting- of from 5 to 12 rows of cells with slightly thickened, lignified and porous walls; a layer of strongly lignified stone cells, elliptical in outline and about 0.075 mm. in length; a single layer of small cells resembling those of the sub-epidermal layer; several rows of parenchyma cells with characteristic reticulate markings and separated from each other by large intercellular spaces; several layers of parenchyma cells, the inner layer being more or less collapsed and bounded on the inside by a single epidermal layer, the cells having rather thick walls; the perisperm cells are usually more or less collapsed and the endosperm consists of a single layer of cells filled with small aleurone grains; the cotyledons consist of thin-walled, isodiametric, elongated or palisade-like cells containing a fixed oil and numerous small aleurone grains." U. S.

The British Pharmacopoeia recognizes the melon pumpkin seeds, under the title of Cucurbitae Semina Praeparata. These are derived from a closely related species, Cucurbita maxima Duch., which closely resembles C. Pepo and differs in that the margins of the leaves possess rounded teeth, whereas in C. Pepo they are acute. The British definition and description are as follows: "Flat, ovate, white, and exalbuminous, consisting of two fleshy, easily separable cotyledons, freshly deprived of the yellowish outer, and brownish inner integument. Faint odor; taste very slight. Before preparation, the seeds measure from eight to twenty millimetres in length, and from nine to twelve millimetres in breadth." Br.

They contain a fixed oil, consisting of the glycerides of palmitic, myristic, and oleic acids, with some free fatty acid, an aromatic principle, chlorophyll, sugar, starch, and, according to Dorner and Wolkowich, an alkaloid, cucurbitine. Deprived of their coating, and exhausted by ether, they yield 30 per cent. of fixed oil. (Ann. Ther., 1862, p. 176.) The researches of Dorner and Wolkowich have not received confirmation, and their alkaloid probably has no existence. Pumpkin seed oil has a sp. gr. at 15° C. (59° F.) of 0.923, and solidifies at -15° C. (5° F.). The cold drawn oil is used for culinary purposes and the lower qualities for burning. The oil dries very slowly. (Lewkowitsch, Chem. Analysis of Oils, etc., 2d ed., 1898, 372.) Sicker obtained 30 per cent. of the oil from the seeds; it was reddish-yellow in color, soluble in ether, benzene, and carbon disulphide, but insoluble in alcohol. (Proc. A. Ph., A., 1897, 545.) Willard Graham endeavored to prepare Oil of Pumpkin Seed by expression, but failed to obtain appreciable quantities even under a pressure of 3000 pounds. By extraction with acetone the ground seed yielded 25 per cent. of oil, clear reddish, limpid, and of agreeable odor and taste. Its sp. gr. at 15° C. (59° F.) was 0.9208; saponification number, 192.5; acid number, 18.9; ether number, 173.6; soluble in all proportions of carbon disulphide, ether, chloroform, and in twenty parts of absolute alcohol, and drying on standing to a tough, yellowish, transparent mass. These properties and constants agree well with a commercial specimen, evidently also obtained by extraction. The latter, however, had a lower acid number, 3.5, while the ether number was somewhat higher, 191.7. (A. J. P., 1901, 352.) J. C. Lyons used an ounce of the oil with success in a case of tapeworm (A. J. P., 1865, 253), but Wolff has found it inert when pure and free from resin, which he prepares by extracting the oil from the powdered seeds by means of petroleum benzin, then treating the remaining powder with ether, chloroform, and alcohol, which yields on evaporation a soft greenish-brown resinous liquid resembling- the oleoresin of male fern. Heekel was the first to assert that the active principle is a resin, and in this he has been corroborated by L. Wolff (pamphlet, Phila., 1882), who found the resin to be efficient in doses of fifteen grains (1 Gm.), given in pill followed in two or three hours by castor oil, and who recommends an alcoholic fluidextract as the best preparation of the drug after the resin.

Power and Salway (J. Am. C. S., 1910, p. 346) found the resin as well as the oil which they separated from the seed, destitute of anthelmintic powers.

W. E. Miller (A. J. P., 1891, 585) analyzed both the shells and the kernels of pumpkin seed. He also found a resin soluble in alcohol, and a dark reddish fixed oil.

Uses.—It is said that in Italy the seeds of the Cucurbita maxima, and in the West Indies those of C. occidentalis (no such plant. -Henriette), have been long used in doses of an ounce and a half as tenifuges. In the Dictionary of Materia Medica by Merat and De Lens (ii, 493) it is stated that Hoarau had reported that in the Isle of France the seeds of a small variety of pumpkin were used against the tapeworm, and with never-failing success. In the year 1820, Mongeney, a physician of Cuba, published the results of his experience with the flesh of the pumpkin in the same disease. He had discovered the remedy by accident, and found it uniformly successful. He gave to the patient, in the morning, fasting, about three ounces of the fresh pumpkin in the form of a paste, and followed it at the end of an hour by about two ounces of honey, which latter was twice repeated at intervals of an hour. So far as we know, attention was first directed to it in this country by Richard Soule. (B. M. S. J., Oct., 1851.) Since this time the drug has steadily grown in favor, and, properly used, is one of our most efficient and harmless tenifuges. The patient should be allowed only a light supper of bread and milk, in the morning early should take an ounce and a half of the seeds, a cup of tea or coffee an hour later, but no food, at 10 A.M. a brisk cathartic, and two hours later a substantial meal. We have obtained excellent results from the exhibition of the beaten seeds in the form of an electuary strongly flavored with oil of cinnamon or of gaultheria.

Dose, one to two ounces (31-62 Gm.).


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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