Evening Primrose Health Benefits and Side Effects

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Evening primrose is a wildflower that grows in North America and South America. The flower of Evening Primrose opens at night, hence the name Evening Primrose.

Evening primrose oil is obtained from the seeds of the plant by pressing. The oil that is extracted from the seeds contains omega-6 essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). This important fatty acid helps with the body’s production of prostaglandins, which regulate a number of bodily functions.

evening primrose flower

evening primrose flower

Other sources of GLA: Although the body can make GLA from other types of seed oils that you consume. Evening primrose oil provides a concentrated source: 7-10% of its fatty acids are in the form of GLA. There are, however, other sources of GLA, they are;  starflower oil and blackcurrant seed oil which contain higher amounts of GLA than evening primrose oil (20-26% for starflower, 14-19% for blackcurrant), but they also have a higher percentage of other fatty acids that may interfere with GLA absorption. Still, starflower oil may be a good substitute because it’s less expensive than evening primrose oil.

What is prostaglandins? The body produces several types of prostaglandins: some promote inflammation, others control it. The GLA in evening primrose oil is directly converted to important anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which accounts for most of the supplements therapeutic effects.

Available Forms: Capsule, Softgel,Oil

Evening Primrose Health Benefits:

  • Evening primrose oil can help relieve menstrual disorders, such as PMS, menstrual cramps and endometriosis. It is because the oil blocks the inflammatory prostaglandins that cause menstrual cramps. It also appears to ease the breast tenderness that some women experience just before their periods.
  • Evening primrose helps with hot flashes, mood swings, and other menopausal symptoms.
  • In people with diabetes, the GLA in evening primrose oil has been shown to help prevent nerve damage (neuropathy), a common complication of the disease.
  • Evening primrose for eczema. Studies of people with eczema indicate that taking evening primrose oil for three to four months can help to alleviate itching and reduce the need for topical steroid creams and drugs.
  • Evening primrose can also ease the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, muscle strains and other inflammatory disorders because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Evening primrose oil is beneficial to heart patients as it helps to lower blood cholesterol. It is said that it can increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). It can also help to prevent formation of blood clots.
  • Evening primrose oil can help in cases of impotence and female infertility; by promoting good blood flow, the GLA in evening primrose oil can help treat a primary cause of male impotence. GLA may also help those who are unable to conceive.
  • Evening primrose oil helps reduce symptoms of irritability and depression. It is said that regular use of evening primrose oil can help in improving the mental state of psychiatric patients.
  • Evening primrose oil can help nourish the skin, hair, and nails.
  • Evening primrose oil can help reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and help prevent liver damage from alcohol.
  • Evening primrose oilcan help cure and prevent acne. It works to dilute sebum, a thick oily substance that is over secreted in some people with acne; the essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil may reduce the risk of pores becoming clogged and lesions developing.

How to Take Evening Primrose Supplement: Take evening primrose oil or other sources of GLA with meals to enhance absorption.

Dosage:

  • The recommended therapeutic dose of evening primrose oil is generally 1000mg three times daily. This supplies 240 mg of GLA a day. To get an equivalent amount of GLA from other sources, you would need to take 1000 mg of starflower oil or 1500 mg of blackcurrant oil each day.
  • For atopic dermatitis or eczema, take a dose of 4 to 8 grams daily, divided into two doses.
  • For skin rash, the recommended total daily dosage for adults is 6 to 8 grams.
  • For management of rheumatoid arthritis doses range from about 360 milligrams to 2.8 grams daily in divided doses.
  • For breast pain the recommended dosage is 3 to 4 grams daily, divided into two doses.

Note:

  • Evening primrose oil can be obtained in health food stores in either liquid or capsule form. Consumers are advised to look for that which is organic and cold-pressed (not oxidized by heating), and to store it in the refrigerator. Standard dosage varies according to the condition being treated.
  • Many experts recommend buying evening primrose oil that contains a small amount of vitamin E, because the fatty acids in evening primrose oil break down quickly, and vitamin E slows this process.
  • It is recommended to take multivitamin if you’re taking evening primrose oil. You need a variety of different vitamins and minerals for essential fatty acid metabolism.
  • EPO supplement should be taken for 4 to 6 weeks before an observable effect can be felt.

Evening Primrose Side Effects: A few people experience bloating or stomach discomfort and headaches when they take evening primrose oil, especially if they don’t take it with meals. These side effects usually go away when the dosage is reduced.

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