Excessive levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a common cause of both hair loss and prostate problems for men. Pumpkin seed oil contains many beneficial health nutrients and two in particular that are believed to provide protection against DHT damage.
How Does DHT Cause Hair Loss and Prostate Problems?
If you’re a man, regularly producing too much dihydrotestosterone in your body can cause hair loss and eventually male pattern baldness. Scientists believe DHT causes hair loss by attaching to your hair follicles and shortening their anagen (growth) phase. Over time, hairs become progressively weaker and finer, until they simply stop growing altogether.
In the case of prostate problems, DHT is known to promote cell proliferation in the prostate gland. This can result in an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a painful condition that leads to a constriction of the urethra and discomfort and problems urinating.
It is normal for men to have some DHT in our bodies, but the increase in prostate problems and early-onset male pattern baldness in recent decades, would seem to suggest our modern lifestyles and diets are producing too much of it.
Environmental xeno-estrogens are also another possible cause. Regardless, most men would be likely to both feel better and have less health problems, like enlarged prostates and thinning hair, if less of their natural testosterone was converting to dihydrotestosterone.
Beta-Sitosterol and Pumpkin Seed Oil
The phytosterol beta-sitosterol has been shown to block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in our bodies. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT.
Unrefined pumpkin seed oil has good levels of beta-sitosterol and has been studied in particular for its beneficial effect on prostate problems. In a Hungarian study of 60 patients with stage I and stage II benign prostatic hyperplasia, subjects were treated with a daily dose of pumpkin seed oil and more than 80% experienced improvement in BPH symptoms with no reported side effects.
Pumpkin Seed Oil and Delta-7-Sterine
Another compound in pumpkin seed oil called delta-7-sterine works to reduce the effects of DHT in a different way. Delta-7-sterine is a very mild steroid that specifically competes with the stronger dihydrotestosterone at the receptor sites of prostate cells and possibly hair follicles. Where delta-7-sterine attaches to cell receptors, DHT is blocked from having its damaging effect on the cell.
Delta-7-sterine has not been studied in the same way as beta-sitosterol, but the anecdotal evidence points to the effectiveness of pumpkin seed oil as a DHT blocker. Whether this is due to the delta-7-sterine, beta-sitosterol, high fatty acid and antioxidants content, or perhaps some as yet unidentified nutrients, many men report positive results from regular use of pumpkin seed oil.
There are many more pumpkin seed oil health benefits for both men and women. With the widespread and increasing prevalence of both hair loss and prostate problems though, it may be a particularly valuable preventative addition to the male diet, especially for older men.
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Photo credit with thanks: icrontic