From Our 2009 Archives

Pumpkin Protein May Field Off Yeast Infections

Protein From Pumpkin Rinds Battles Fungus That Causes Yeast Infections

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 30, 2009 -- Researchers in South Korea say pumpkin skins contain a powerful antifungal protein that works against the cause of many common yeast infections.

Reporting in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Chosun University scientists from Kwangju, South Korea, say they extracted a protein from pumpkin rinds called Pr-2 that battles the fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections, diaper rash, and other health problems.

Pr-2 inhibited the growth of 10 species of harmful fungus, including Candida albicans, which is a common cause of vaginal yeast infections, yeast-related diaper rash, and other health problems.

Although there was a strong antifungal effect, Pr-2 had no affect against bacteria. Yoonkyung Park, PhD, Kyung-Soo Hahm, PhD, and colleagues at the Research Center for Proteineous Materials of Chosun University report that the pumpkin protein could be developed into a natural medicine for fighting yeast infections.

They say the protein also blocked the growth of several fungi that attack plant crops. They believe that Pr-2 inhibits fungal growth by targeting the cell wall or membrane of the microorganisms.

In Korea and many other countries, pumpkins have been used for medicinal purposes, and studies have been done to look into any antibiotic, antidiabetic, antihypertension, and antitumor effects.

"Novel antifungal proteins have the potential for applications in medicine, food safety, and agriculture," the researchers write.

SOURCES: News release, American Chemical Society.

Park, S-C. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Oct. 14, 2009; vol 57: pp 9299-9304.

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