Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/29/2022
Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is a common condition that can affect men of all ages and backgrounds. It often begins to develop in your 20s and 30s, with early signs such as a receding hairline or bald patch around your crown.
These medications have been around for decades and are backed up by numerous large-scale studies showing real results. They’re approved by the FDA and make the core parts of any hair loss treatment routine that’s built around scientific evidence.
While minoxidil and finasteride might be the “A list” of hair loss medications, they’re not the only substances that can produce increases in hair count and hair thickness.
In fact, there are also several vitamins, minerals and natural ingredients that have been linked to improvements in scalp hair growth over the years.
One increasingly popular natural product for treating hair loss and stimulating growth is pumpkin seed oil -- an oil that’s cold pressed from pumpkin seeds.
Over the years, a few small studies have found that pumpkin seed oil may have a positive effect on hair growth, earning it a reputation as a natural treatment for male pattern baldness.
However, when it comes to the effects of pumpkin seed oil for hair growth, what is fact and what is fiction? Does it really work, or is it just hot air? What does science have to say about pumpkin seed oil as a treatment for hair loss?
Below, we’ve covered what pumpkin seed oil is and dug into the most recent scientific research about its potential positive effects for hair growth.
We’ve also discussed how you can use pumpkin seed oil as an oral or topical treatment for hair loss.
Finally, we’ve talked about some other options that you may want to consider if you’re beginning to lose hair, including evidence-based hair loss medications such as minoxidil and finasteride.
Before we get into the specifics on pumpkin seed oil and its potential effect on hair growth, let’s quickly go over what pumpkin seed oil actually is.
Pumpkin seed oil is pretty self-explanatory. It’s an oil that’s extracted from the roasted seeds of pumpkins. It’s commonly used as a cooking oil and, from a health perspective, is widely known for its essential fatty acid, vitamin and mineral content.
Thanks to its micronutrient profile, pumpkin seed oil is widely marketed as a dietary supplement that may offer certain health benefits.
You can purchase pumpkin seed oil as an oil for cooking and making dressings, and in capsule form as a supplement. Many pumpkin seed oil supplements are marketed as “prostate support” supplements and often include other oils, herbs or natural ingredients.
To understand how the effects of pumpkin seed might slow down or stop hair loss, it’s important to also understand how and why male hair loss occurs in the first place.
A variety of issues can cause you to shed hair, from chronic stress to hairstyles that pull on your hair follicles, resulting in traction alopecia. However, most hair loss that affects men is the result of a condition called androgenetic alopecia (AGA), or male pattern baldness.
Androgenetic alopecia is extremely common. In fact, research suggests that it occurs in up to 70 percent of men in later life.
The effects of androgenetic alopecia can vary from person to person. Some men have moderate hair loss, such as a receding hairline or small bald patch at the crown. Others have more severe androgenetic alopecia that results in almost total loss of hair around the crown and hairline.
This type of hair loss occurs due to a combination of genetic factors and the effects of the male sex hormone, or androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Your body produces DHT as a byproduct of testosterone. DHT is important in your early life, as it plays a key role in the development of male secondary sex characteristics such as your voice, facial hair and body hair.
As an adult, DHT isn’t so important for your general health. However, it is associated with some health issues, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or prostate growth).
If you’re genetically susceptible to the effects of DHT, this hormone can also attach to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to miniaturize. This leads to the onset of hair loss, as your hair follicle growth slows down and new hairs fail to penetrate your skin.
Our guide to DHT and hair loss goes into more detail about this process, as well as how DHT is responsible for damaging your hair follicles and causing androgenic alopecia.
So, is pumpkin seed oil effective at treating hair loss? While research is far from conclusive, a few studies have found that pumpkin seed oil may provide benefits for reducing the severity of male pattern baldness and promoting hair growth.
Most treatments for hair loss work by either shielding your hair follicles from the harmful effects of DHT or stimulating hair growth by increasing blood flow to your scalp.
For example, the medication finasteride has a 5α-reductase inhibition effect, meaning it inhibits the enzyme (referred to as the 5-alpha reductase enzyme) that converts testosterone to DHT.
Minoxidil, on the other hand, appears to stimulate hair growth by increasing blood circulation in your scalp.
Some research suggests that pumpkin seed oil may have a similar effect by limiting your body’s ability to produce DHT -- a topic we’ve discussed in more detail further down the page.
Over the years, several studies have found that pumpkin seed oil appears to reduce the severity of male pattern baldness and, in some cases, show potential for hair growth.
For example, one placebo-controlled study published in 2014 found that men who took a 400mg pumpkin seed oil supplement on a daily basis for a total of 24 weeks displayed improvements in hair growth.
The study was one of the most comprehensive pieces of research of pumpkin seed oil as a hair loss treatment to date, but pumpkin seed oil wasn’t the only ingredient tested.
In fact, the dietary supplement used throughout the study contained several distinct ingredients, with pumpkin seed oil just one of them.
Other active ingredients in the dietary supplement included evening primrose powder, corn silk powder, octacosanol, mixed vegetable powder, red clover powder and tomato powder.
This means that pumpkin seed oil may not be the only ingredient responsible for improvements in hair growth. Other ingredients may be responsible for some or all of the supplement’s effects on hair growth, or they may amplify the effects of pumpkin seed oil.
Other research shows that pumpkin seed oil may provide benefits for treating pattern hair loss that occurs in women, called female pattern hair loss (FPHL).
For example, a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2021 compared the effects of pumpkin seed oil and minoxidil in women with signs of pattern hair loss.
The researchers found that both treatments produced measurable improvements in hair growth and concluded that pumpkin seed oil has a “promising potential role” in preventing hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss also occurs due to a combination of genetic factors and DHT, meaning that pumpkin seed oil’s effects as a treatment for female hair loss may also signify potential as a hair loss treatment in men.
While these findings are interesting, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re relatively small in scale, with less than 150 people participating in both studies.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s still a lot that we don’t yet know about the effects of pumpkin seed oil as a topical treatment for hair loss.
For example, the mechanism of action for pumpkin seed oil -- the process by which a substance produces a pharmacological effect -- still isn’t completely clear, meaning we don’t yet know how pumpkin seed oil may work as a hair loss treatment.
One popular theory is that pumpkin seed oil may act as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, meaning it prevents the conversion of testosterone from DHT.
This is possible, as pumpkin seed oil is associated with improvements in symptoms of prostate enlargement -- a common health issue in middle-aged and older men that’s typically caused by elevated levels of DHT.
So, what does this mean for hair loss? If pumpkin seed oil inhibits 5-alpha reductase, it may cut down DHT levels throughout your body, protecting your hair follicles from the harmful effects of DHT and reducing the severity of hair loss.
It’s important to understand that this hasn’t yet been proven beyond any doubt, and it’s always possible that pumpkin seed oil’s apparent effects aren’t related to DHT (or aren’t as significant as they appear based on the evidence that’s currently available).
Interestingly, other natural ingredients also appear to reduce DHT levels and potentially reduce hair loss from male pattern baldness.
You can find saw palmetto as an active ingredient in our Hair Thickening Shampoo, which uses a mix of ingredients to support hair growth while promoting volume and moisture.
The short answer is that any man who is struggling with male pattern hair loss can use pumpkin seed oil.
Although the scientific research behind pumpkin seed oil isn’t anywhere near as solid as it is for FDA-approved hair loss treatments such as finasteride or minoxidil, pumpkin seed oil may offer real benefits for your hair growth and hair health.
One advantage of pumpkin seed oil is that it doesn’t appear to cause some side effects that can occur with medications for hair loss.
Prescription hair loss treatments have side effects that some men may dislike. For example, the medication finasteride can, cause sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction (ED), reduced libido and decreased ejaculatory volume.
Minoxidil, which is applied topically for hair growth promotion, can produce adverse effects such as scaling and itching of the scalp.
It’s important to keep in mind that we don’t yet know everything about the side effects that might occur as a result of pumpkin seed oil use, meaning it shouldn’t be viewed as completely free of any side effects.
It’s also important to understand that pumpkin seed oil shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for hair loss treatment standards such as minoxidil or finasteride. It isn’t, and the scientific evidence isn’t even close to the same.
However, using pumpkin seed oil to treat hair loss -- either topically or in the form of a daily use dietary supplement -- probably won’t hurt your hairline. Our list of ways to grow hair fast for men also shares other natural techniques for stimulating hair growth.
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There are several ways to add pumpkin seed oil to your hair care routine. These include taking a pumpkin seed oil dietary supplement, applying pumpkin seed oil to your scalp or switching to a shampoo that contains pumpkin seed oil as an active ingredient.
Pumpkin seed oil is widely available as a dietary supplement. These products are often labeled as “prostate support” supplements, as natural health enthusiasts believe that pumpkin seed oil may help to protect against certain prostate conditions.
Most pumpkin seed oil supplements contain gel capsules that contain pumpkin seed oil. If you use a pumpkin seed oil supplement, make sure to closely follow the dosage instructions found on the product’s label.
An important thing to note is that supplements, including pumpkin seed oil supplements, aren’t regulated by the FDA in the same way other foods and drugs are.
That means the quality and exact dosage of supplements you get may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. To keep yourself safe, make sure to only ever buy dietary supplements from a reputable source.
If taking a supplement doesn’t feel right to you, you can consume pumpkin seed oil in its normal form orally. Many people who use pumpkin seed oil for its potential health benefits take between one and three teaspoons of pumpkin seed oil per day.
Pumpkin seed oil can also be used as a cooking ingredient, although its low smoke point makes it difficult to use this type of oil for dishes cooked at a high heat.
Another option is to apply pumpkin seed oil directly to your scalp. You can do this with a hot oil treatment, or by switching from your regular shampoo to one that contains pumpkin seed oil as an active ingredient.
Make sure not to get hot oil hair treatments too often, as this may cause your scalp and hair to become overly oily.
Although pumpkin seed oil might have potential for increased hair growth, it’s far from the only option out there if you’re losing hair and want to do something about it.
Currently, the most effective options for preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth are the FDA-approved medications finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is a prescription medication that prevents your body from producing DHT. It comes in tablet form and needs to be taken daily. Most men who take finasteride notice a reduction in hair loss and improvements in hair growth after 12 to 24 weeks of treatment.
Several studies have found that finasteride is an effective treatment for hair loss, including one study that more than 80 percent of men show improvements after one year of use.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Minoxidil is a topical, over-the-counter hair loss medication. Unlike finasteride, it doesn’t reduce DHT levels. Instead, minoxidil works by speeding up your hair’s growth cycle and increasing the supply of blood to your hair follicles.
Research shows that minoxidil is effective for the treatment of hair growth issues such as male pattern hair loss, particularly when it’s used at the same time as finasteride.
For example, the same study as mentioned above found that more than 94 percent of men with pattern hair loss showed improvements after using minoxidil and finasteride over a period of 12 months.
Currently, research into pumpkin seed oil as a potential treatment for male pattern baldness is still in its infancy.
A few small studies suggest that pumpkin seed oil may produce real differences in hair count among men with male pattern hair loss.
This may occur due to a 5α-reductase inhibitory effect, meaning pumpkin seed oil may reduce production of DHT, the androgen that causes balding.
While these findings are promising, it’s important to remember that research on pumpkin seed oil is still very limited. We still need more studies to learn whether or not pumpkin seed oil truly works, and if so, how it may help to promote hair growth.
If you’re losing your hair, you’ll likely get the best results by sticking to FDA-approved hair loss medications such as finasteride and minoxidil. We offer these online as part of our full range of hair loss treatments for men.
You can talk to a healthcare provider and get started by taking part in an online consultation for hair loss.
Interested in learning more about your options for treating and preventing hair loss? Our guide to what you should take for hair loss goes into more detail about proven treatments for ending male pattern baldness and stimulating new, sustainable hair growth.