PEPO [Pumpkin Seed]
Compiled by Ivor Hughes
PEPO. U.S. (Br.) PEPO [Pumpkin Seed]
Cucurbita Pepo L. is an annual, long running, monoecious herb with prickly stems and petioles indigenous to tropical America, having been cultivated in fields of maize by the aborigines when the first settlers arrived on the American continent. It is further characterized by possessing 3- to 5-lobed, dark dull green leaves, large yellow axillary flowers and pepo fruits, the latter differing in size and shape in the numerous varieties and strains cultivated. Much confusion exists in the usage of the terms " pumpkin " and " squash," these terms having been applied almost indiscriminately to varieties of several species of Cucurbita. The various field or pie pumpkins and the summer squashes represent cultivated varieties of C. Pepo. The Hubbard, Turban, Marblehead and Sibley squashes are cultivated varieties of C. maxima Duchesne. The Canada Crookneck, Winter Crookneck and China squashes are cultivated varieties of C. moschata. The seeds of C. Pepo are recognized by the U. S. and of C. maxima by the Br.
Description and Physical Properties. � " Unground Pepo.� 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 2 plano-convex cotyledons; slightly odorous when contused; taste bland and oily.
"Structure.� 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 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 Cucurbits Semina Praeparata. These are derived from a closely related species, Cucurbita maxima Duck, 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: " Mat, 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.
Although Dorner and Wolkowich reported an alkaloid, cucurbitine, in pumpkin seed in 1862, subsequent chemists have not been able to confirm its presence. Power and Solway (J. Am. C. S., 1910, xxxii, p. 346) obtained by expression about 19 per cent, of a reddish fixed oil. This had a specific gravity at 20� C. of 0.922, acid value 3.4, saponification value 189.4, iodine value 119.7; it was composed _ of 45 per cent, of the glyceride of linoleie acid, the remainder being olein, palmitin and stearin (see also Graham, A. J. P., 1901, p. 352). In 1875 Heckel obtained a resin which he believed was the active principle. Power and Solway tested both the resin and the oil from pumpkin seed but were unable to find evidence of any vermifuge effect. We must at present, therefore, consider that we have no knowledge of the real active principle of this remedy. 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. � The seeds of various species of cucurbita have been used for more than a century in the treatment of tapeworm. The use of pumpkin seems to have been introduced into the United States by Soule (B. M. S. J., 1851). Because of its harmlessness it became, and has continued, a favorite vermifuge for this purpose although from time to time its efficacy is denied. De Jongh (P. J., 1917, xcviii, p. 307) ., reports satisfactory results in the case of infection by the Taenia nana. .Sollmann (/. P. Ex. T., 1918, xii, 129) has offered a plausible explanation of the varying esteem of this drug; he finds that the infusion of fresh pumpkin seed has a very markedly toxic action on earth worms but that a similar preparation from old seeds is much less efficient. In treating tapeworm with this drug 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.).
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