Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is made from the seeds of the flowers of a plant native to North America. It is a small, yellow wildflower found also in Europe, and parts of Asia. The flowers of the evening primrose plant bloom from late afternoon to sunrise, hence the name “evening primrose”. Historically, various parts of the Evening Primrose botanical – such as its seeds, fresh flowers, leaves, and roots – as well as its essential fatty acid were used in medicinal applications to address symptoms of acne, asthma, diabetes, eczema, fatigue, loss of libido and impotence, menstruation and menopause, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, poor memory, and rheumatism.
Its healing benefits may be due to its gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid found in plant oils. The GLA in EPO is thought to help acne by reducing skin inflammation and reducing the number of skin cells that cause lesions. It may also help the skin retain moisture. Not only does it make the skin soft, but it also supplies it with essential nutrients and healthy fats, making your skin look youthful and flawless.
Evening primrose oil is known to treat eczema, a skin condition that is characterized by dryness, itchiness, swelling, and rough patches of skin. According to Maat van Uitert, essential oil expert and founder of FrugalChicken, the high omega-6 fatty acid content of primrose oil helps ease symptoms. If you have eczema and psoriasis, van Uitert recommends applying a combination of evening primrose oil with coconut oil topically every day, though it’s important to consult your doctor to ensure it won’t interfere with any medications you might be taking.
Studies have indicated that using evening primrose oil topically might help with hair loss. One study, by the University of Maryland, which gave patients who’d experienced significant hair loss primrose oil to take for seven months, found that the patients had significant hair regrowth by the end. “To get even more benefit, mix evening primrose oil with rosemary essential oil, which has also shown to help with hair loss and increase hair thickness,” says van Uitert.
Women have been taking primrose oil to treat their hormonal imbalance since years, and all for a good reason. Studies have shown that the omega-6 fatty acids in evening primrose oil help treat menopausal and premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Another common symptom experienced by most women is hot flashes. A six-week clinical trial study was performed on 56 menopausal women to test the efficacy of evening primrose oil to treat hot flashes. It was found that primrose oil was highly effective in treating and decreasing the frequency of hot flashes.
It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis, weak bones (osteoporosis), Raynaud’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS), Sjogren’s syndrome, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, a movement disorder in children called dyspraxia, leg pain due to blocked blood vessels (intermittent claudication), alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia.
Since evening primrose oil is rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids—which have some surprising health benefits—and gamma-linolenic acids, researchers have begun looking more deeply into the internal benefits of the supplement. One study, published by the peer-reviewed journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, even linked primrose oil to helping with nerve-crush injuries. At the end of the studies, the injured rats showed significant improvement with nerve damage, and their reflexes were nearly identical to the healthy cohort.
Inflammation leads to loads of troubles, from diabetes to autoimmune diseases—in which the immune system attacks body tissues, mistaking them for dangerous invaders. Tamping down inflammation through diet with anti-inflammatory foods like these, and using anti-inflammatory substances like evening primrose oil can help immensely. Research suggests evening primrose oil may even be conducive in relieving the side effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease. Adding an evening primrose oil supplement along with fish oil—another anti-inflammatory—into the diet of those suffering from inflammation-related diseases may go a long way in reducing some of the symptoms.
EPO is generally considered safe for most people to use short-term. The safety of long-term use hasn’t been determined. Side effects are usually mild and may include upset stomach, stomach pain, headache or soft stools. Taking the least amount possible may help prevent side effects. If you need to undergo surgery, stop using this oil at least two weeks before it is scheduled since it is known to lower blood clotting.
Yes, it has side effects, but the benefits outweigh them. You can opt to try out this oil, follow its recommended dosages for your long term health benefits.