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Fluted pumpkin panacea for prostate problem, diabetes
The prostate is a gland the size of a chestnut. It is only present in men, and it is situated under the bladder surrounding the urethra, the passageway that takes the urine to the outside. The gland produces seminal fluid, which is mixed with sperm to make semen. With age, the gland may begin to grow - this happens to most men. The growth may eventually cause problems with urination, because the gland pinches off the urethra as it increases its size.
The growth in itself is harmless and so the condition is called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). It occurs most often in men over the age of 60. Up to 30 per cent of men in their 70s have BPH that gives symptoms. The symptoms include a weak or interrupted urinary stream. Several attempts to empty the bladder may be necessary. They might also experience difficulty starting the urine flow, even when the bladder feels full; a feeling the bladder is not completely empty; a need to urinate often during the day and during the night. Others include dribbling of urine after urination and burning sensation or pain during urination.
However, different men get different symptoms - the symptoms may also vary with each individual throughout the course of the disease. For some men, it suddenly becomes impossible to urinate while others find it gradually harder to empty the bladder. As the condition develops, more and more urine is left in the bladder after urination.
Research studies have shown that a diet rich in Telfairia occidentalis seeds are effective at improving urinary symptoms in men with BPH. Telfairia occidentalis is a perennial plant whose popularity stems from the high nutritional value of its leaf and seed which are eaten as food. It is the main ingredients of a Nigerian soup, edikang ikong. Common names for the plant include fluted gourd, fluted pumpkin, and Ugwu.
The leaves are much sought after by sheep and goats and are used as fodder and cover crop for livestock. The seed oil is suitable for the manufacture of soap, vegetable oils, paints and varnishes. It has been reported that the plant can be used to treat anemia, convulsion, high blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol, arthritis, liver problems and inflammatory conditions.
In the study, namely Chukwunonso E C C Ejike and Lawrence U S Ezeanyika fed a diet containing fluted pumpkin seeds to rats under laboratory conditions. Twenty male wistar rats were divided into four equal groups. BPH was induced in the test group every other day for 28 days and then placed on the test diet for seven days following disease induction.
The control group (DC) was fed on a normal diet for seven days following BPH was induced in them. Markers of BPH, and hormone profile were determined using standard methods.
The results showed that relative prostate weight and protein content of the prostates were lower (albeit not significantly) in the test group, relative to the DC group.
Fortunately, a regular diet containing fluted pumpkin is useful in prevention and treatment of diabetes, a condition in which the body is unable to properly process the sugars found in food without the help of insulin injections. Diabetes is the fourth main cause of death in most developed countries.
Scientists whose initial target was to determine the effect of different parts of the plants in blood sugar control, indicated in the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology that the leaf extract of fluted pumpkin was effective in correcting impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired oral glucose tolerance (IGT) is indicative of a predisposition to diabetes.
This study entitled “Effect of Telfairia occidentalis on oral glucose tolerance in rats” was carried out by Olorunfemi Eseyin, Akeem Agboke and Oladoja Awofisayo of the University of Uyo, in collaboration with Patrick Ebong and Eyong from the University of Calabar.
They found that unlike the ethanolic extracts of the seed, both the extract of the fruits and leaves of fluted pumpkin caused a reduction in blood glucose level to different extent in the test animals, so helpful in the prevention of diabetes.
They wrote: “Simultaneous administration of fruit extract and glucose produced a reduction in blood glucose level at 60 minutes only. However, when the fruit extract was administered 45 minutes before glucose loading, blood glucose level was significantly reduced 15 and 45 minutes after glucose loading. When simultaneously administered with glucose, the leaf extract reduced blood glucose concentration significantly at 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. Administration of the leaf extract 45 minutes before glucose loading also significantly reduced blood glucose level at 30, 45 and 60 minutes after glucose loading.”
According to the researchers, “these results indicate that the leaf extract is capable of correcting impaired glucose tolerance in rat, thereby significantly reducing the possibility of such animals developing full blown diabetes.”
This finding is consistent with findings of some researchers that some plants have the ability to correct or improve OGT. For example, cocoa powder extract was found to lower blood glucose level in rats that had high blood sugar level. Moringa oleifera was found to have an ameliorating effect for glucose intolerance in rats. In addition, Dryopteris spp (Aspidiaceae) and bitter leaves are also known to improve glucose utilisation.
Meanwhile seeds of fluted pumpkin also demonstrated its usefulness in the treatment of malaria. Experts based on a study that investigated the antimalarial activity of leaf and seed extracts in vivo in mice infected with Plasmodium berghei indicated that the extract exhibited antiplasmodial activity although lower than what was achieved with the standard drug, chloroquine.Share