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Pumpkin Seeds for Worms - Does it Work?

We are always looking for natural solutions to horse health problems. We had read that pumpkin seeds can be used to manage internal parasites in horses. You may have read that too. Wouldn't that be great?





We conducted the experiment some time ago.


Here's what we did:


We had fifteen horses on the property - first we did a fecal float on all the horses. We divided them into three groups of five with similar amounts of worm eggs from the floats in each group.


Please note none of our horses had many worm eggs to begin with.


We fed one group fresh pumpkin seeds from home-grown pumpkins, added to a mash over three days.


We wormed one group with standard store-bought wormers.


There was no intervention for the third group.


After a week we floated the manures again. 


 


The results:


The group that was wormed with a store bought wormer had no eggs in the sample we floated.


The group that had no intervention had a similar number of worm eggs in the sample we floated as before.


The group that was fed pumpkin seeds had a similar number of worm eggs in the sample we floated as before.


 


Does this mean it's a complete hoax? No. Our sample size was small. Our methods were pretty lax. People in labs are getting more reliable results.


This study from 2016 shows that cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) has potential compounds with anthelmintic properties, but as extracts - not just dumping fresh pumpkin seeds into a mash.



Another study from 2021 saw positive results in reducing fecal egg counts from pumpkin seeds and cloves in sheep.



This study from 2024 showed a significant positive result from a pumpkin mash (and honey) in mice, although I would like to see this study replicated, because the results seem to contradict other studies. And mice aren't livestock. Either way, it's exciting that the research is occurring.



It's possible that in the future we'll be seeing more natural alternatives to the synthetic dewormers we have now using pumpkin seed extracts, particularly in light of the growing resistance parasites have to these currently available products. 


The positive outcome from our 'study'? 


Pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins. It was the most successful season for pumpkins to date. One of them was 37 kilos! Check it out!





If you want pumpkin vines distributed randomly across your paddock, or spilling out of your compost heap, we definitely recommend feeding your horse pumpkin seeds. 


But for parasite control? Unfortunately, no.


While there are 'natural solutions' to help manage internal parasites in horses, they all have to do with property management - collecting manures, harrowing, paddock rotation etc. We've written many articles about worms and wormers. Follow the links below. 


Unfortunately, there are currently no 'natural' options to feed your horse to reduce parasite burden.


There is research that indicates that horses fed prebiotics and probiotics manage their worm burden better, and that prebiotics and probiotics help to repopulate the disrupted gut biome after worming. 


Prebiotics and probiotics also help with horses that scour, have malodorous manure, have received antibiotics or have a history of stomach ulcers. 


Our prebiotic/probiotic bundle is 3 months supply at $23/month - making it significantly less expensive than the most popular gut supplement currently on the market, which is $124/month.


There are many reasons to feed prebiotics and probiotics, but we still need to judiciously use dewormers to manage internal parasites.




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