Pumpkin Patch: Beautiful Autumn Skin
October 18th, 2011
The rotund beauty of the pumpkin is around for such a short season. Traditionally, a symbol of magical significance, in the Celtic holiday Samhain, which marked the end of summer and the harvest, it is now most commonly seen as a Halloween prop, often in the form of the jack o’ lantern.
The orange flesh carved out of fruit has long had myriad benefits for health and beauty. Its vibrant color signifies that pumpkins and squashes are powerful sources for beta-carotene, which when converted to vitamin A is vital for good skin health, bone strength and optimal cardio-vascular performance.
The high levels of antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E make fresh pumpkin great for the skin and nervous system. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to keep skin hydrated as well as boosting the cells’ regenerative ability.
The detoxifying qualities of pumpkin assist with obesity and weight loss issues.
According to archeologists, Cucurbita pepo is one of the oldest domesticated plant species in the Americas. For centuries, it was a staple of the Native American diet and a component of the planting scheme known as “Three Sisters”. While the bean vines used the cornstalks for support and fixed the nitrogen in the soil, the large leaves of the squash plant provided shade and helped retain moisture in the soil.
In addition to being a food staple, indigenous peoples utilized this marvelous fruit medicinally. The Yuma used an emulsion of pumpkin and watermelon seeds to heal wounds, while other tribes used powered squash and pumpkin seeds as a diuretic and to ease kidney ailments.
Pumpkins have been used in folk medicine down through the ages and modern folk healers continue to advocate its use for a wide variety of ailments. Its juice, rich in vitamins, minerals and organic acids that stimulate kidney activity helps eliminate excess fluids from the body and is also a good source of pectin, which aids in reducing cholesterol.
Bulgarian mountain dwellers, Hungarian Gypsies, Turks and Ukrainians all eat pumpkin seeds, which are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium as well as vitamins A and B, to prevent prostate ailments and have found that it also stimulates sex hormone production and prevents impotence. This is also a good remedy for men to protect themselves from the increasing instances of osteoporosis.
(It’s starting to sound like the Tom Waits song ‘Step right Up’- “It’ll win the election!’ O Great Pumpkin!! But that’s not all…)
Fermented pumpkin juice and powdered pumpkin extract are being used in a variety of anti-aging and skin care products. In the form of cleansers, peels, toners and serums, the skin is infused with enzymes, which break down dead layers and decongest pores. The enzymes in pumpkin accelerate exfoliation and support the regenerative cycle of skin cells.
Pumpkin is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and its enzymes gently soothe, exfoliate and help skin recover from the results of acne. There are many home spa recipes on-line for a wide range of skin issues. My favorite was a honey and pumpkin exfoliating mask.
This is the season of the pumpkin. Carve one. Eat some. Have a moonlit facial in the pumpkin patch with Linus to pay homage to the Great Pumpkin because the Pumpkin is great, Charlie Brown.