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Originally published January 6 2010

Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health: Pumpkin Seeds Expel Parasites

by Melissa Sokulski

(NaturalNews) In ancient China, people used an herb called Nan Gua Zi - pumpkin seeds - to expel parasites, especially tapeworm and roundworm. Today parasites may be more of a problem than commonly thought. In Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford writes, "Various parasites infect a major percentage of the population." (1). He mentions that pinworms, roundworms, and tapeworms can proliferate in a weak digestive tract.

In Chinese Medicine, pumpkin seeds are considered to have a sweet and bitter taste, and so influence the Large Intestines and Stomach. Research has shown that both a decoction (strong tea) and powders of pumpkin seeds have been effective against tapeworm and other parasites in animals. (2)

Parasites can often be detected by live blood cell analysis by a trained technician looking at a drop of live blood under a special microscope. Even without special analysis, parasites may be suspected in many cases. The following are symptoms which could indicate parasites:

Winter squash and pumpkin seeds share the same properties. In addition to expelling parasites, they are high in zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. When next preparing butternut or other squash, save and rinse the seeds. Allow them to air dry, or toss with olive oil and salt and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin seeds can also be found in the supermarket. Known as pepitas, they are hulled and are a green color with a delicate texture and taste. To be effective against parasites, pumpkin seeds can be eaten regularly in a variety of ways:

The nutmilk can be used on cereal or as a base for smoothies. The seeds can be mixed with other nuts and dried fruits to be eaten as a snack. Try this recipe for a tasty treat:

Spiced Pistachio and Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup raw pistachio nuts (peeled, unsalted)
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), soaked at least four hours and rinsed
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp tamari or nama shoyu

Toss all ingredients until well coated.
Spread on dehydrator tray and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 6 hours, until dry. If you don't have a dehydrator, place on cookie sheet in oven at 250 degrees for a couple hours.


  1. Pitchford, p.74
  2. Gamble and Bensky, p.441
  3. Pitchford, p.74)


Bensky, Dan and Gamble, Andrew. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Materia Medica. Revised Edition. Eastland Press. Seattle, Washington. 1986.

Cheng, Xinnong. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1987.

Pitchford, Paul. Healing With Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, CA. 1993.

About the author

Melissa Sokulski is an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of the website Food Under Foot, a website devoted entirely to wild edible plants. The website offers plant descriptions, photographs, videos, recipes and more. Her new workbook, Wild Plant Ally, offers an exciting, hands-on way to learn about wild edible plants.
Melissa also runs The Birch Center for Health in Pittsburgh, PA, providing the best in complementary health care: acupuncture, therapeutic massage and herbal medicine.

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