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Pumpkin Scares Off Microbes

Pumpkin rinds contain a substance with an antibacterial effect against microbes that cause millions of cases of yeast infections in adults and infants each year, according to a recent research report. The researchers noted that some disease-causing microbes are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics. As a result, scientists worldwide are searching for new antibiotics. Past studies have hinted that pumpkin, long used as a folk medicine in some countries, might have antibiotic effects. The researchers extracted proteins from pumpkin rinds to see if the proteins inhibit the growth of microbes, including Candida albicans. That fungus causes vaginal yeast infections, diaper rash in infants, and other health problems. One pumpkin protein had powerful effects in inhibiting the growth of C. albicans, in cell culture experiments, with no obvious toxic effects. The protein could be developed into a natural medicine for fighting yeast infections in humans, the report suggested. The protein also blocked the growth of several fungi that attack important plant crops and could be useful as an agricultural fungicide, the researchers added. The report was published in the October 14 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, an ACS publication. [Press release] [JAFC abstract]