Evening Primrose Benefits

Evening Primrose
Latin Name

Oenothera biennis

Also Known As

Suncup, Sundrop

Origin

North America, Asia

Parts Used

Leaves, flowers, seeds and roots

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

The Evening Primrose is a pretty little wildflower that has a long history of traditional use in herbal medicinal systems the world over.

In Ayurveda it is known as the “King’s Cure-all”. Its fresh flowers, seeds, roots and essential oil are used in the treatment of impotence, fatigue, PMS and menopausal problems. The Native Americans used an infusion of Evening Primrose to speed up wound healing. They also used the root for haemorrhoids and the seed oil for skin problems.

Evening Primrose Benefits

Hormonal Balance

Evening Primrose Oil is extremely rich in Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), an unsaturated, omega 6 fatty acid that cannot be made by the body, thus must be obtained from food. It is important to ensure GLA is in balance with Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), the precursor to omega 3, to achieve maximum health benefits.

PMS

Women with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), are frequently deficient in GLA. Furthermore, their ability to convert Linolenic Acid (LA) to GLA is often impaired. Studies have demonstrated that supplementing with GLA may have a significant effect on PMS symptoms. GLA has been shown to improve many symptoms including headaches, depression, irritability, and bloating. It may also relieve pre-menstrual breast pain and tenderness.

Research shows that women deficient in this essential fatty acid are over-sensitive to the hormone prolactin, which contributes to breast pain. GLA creates hormone-like compounds that “switch off” some of the effects of prolactin, resulting in less breast pain. A deficiency in GLA may also be responsible for other symptoms such as depression, irritability and fluid retention.

Menopause

Whilst concrete scientific evidence is scant, there are many anecdotal reports of Evening Primrose Oil reducing symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, headaches and fluid retention.

Again, it is thought to be the GLA content of the oil that is responsible for its effects in reducing some of the more unpleasant symptoms of the menopause.

A couple of studies have been carried out which support the use of Evening Primrose Oil for hot flushes/flashes. One study published in the “Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics” in 2012 concluded that: “The application of oral Evening Primrose Oil compared with placebo for controlling hot flashes may decrease more the intensity of attacks as well as ameliorating the HFRDIS (hot flash related daily interference scale) score."

Skin Health

One of the most enduring uses of Evening Primrose Oil has been to moisturise the skin and treat various skin complaints.

With regards to keeping the skin in tip top condition, a study published in MDPI found that the high content of Linolenic Acid (LA) and GLA in Evening Primrose Oil strengthens the epidermal barrier, normalises excessive loss of water through the epidermis, regenerates skin and improves smoothness, after both topical and oral applications.

Eczema

It has been found that eczema sufferers don’t have the normal ability to process fatty acids which results in a deficiency in GLA. This means that inflammation can get worse due to the body not having access to the anti-inflammatory effects of this fatty acid. Supplementing with Evening Primrose Oil and applying it to the skin can provide considerable relief to the itching and redness caused by eczema.

Acne

According to the aforementioned MDPI study, due to its linoleic acid content, Evening Primrose Oil has a beneficial moisturising effect on the mucous membrane in acne patients treated with isotretinoin (a commonly used pharmaceutical for severe acne). This implies that skin supplementation with Evening Primrose Oil improves the skin’s water balance.

Teenagers who suffer from acne are often suffering from a hormonal imbalance. The hormone regulating properties of Evening Primrose Oil may help to prevent and overcome acne. Again, the oil can be taken as a supplement and applied topically. The fatty acids in Evening Primrose Oil play a role in cell structure, improve nerve function and promote skin elasticity.

Typical Use

Evening Primrose Oil (Cold Pressed)

Blends well with lighter carrier oils such as Wheatgerm.

Take 1 tsp of oil daily.

Evening Primrose Oil Capsules

Take 1 - 3 softgels daily.

Folklore and History

Growing abundantly in North America, Evening Primrose was an important herb and food to the Native Americans. They boiled the nutty flavoured root as a staple food and used the leaves, flowers and seeds for medicinal purposes. Hunters are said to have rubbed the root on the soles of their moccasins to mask their smell and get closer to the animals.

The seed spread onto ships and European settlers took the root back to England and Germany, where it was introduced as food and became known as German Rampion. It was imported first into Italy and has since then been carried all over Europe. In Germany it is called nachtkerz or night candle.

Evening Primrose
Constituents

Evening primrose oil contains GLA (9-11%) linoleic acid (65-70%) oleic acid (8-12%)

Precautions

Not recommended for pregnant women.

Do not consume Evening Primrose Oil if you are prone to seizures.

If you are taking prescription medication for blood thinning, blood pressure or depression, please consult with your healthcare practitioner.