Evening primrose oil facts and benefits

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Evening primrose oil facts and benefits

Evening primrose oil Quick Facts
Name: Evening primrose oil
Scientific Name: Oenothera biennis
Origin Europe and North America
Colors Pale yellow
Shapes Thin, Clear
Health benefits Helps quit alcohol addiction, Brain Function, PMS, To treat boils or bruises, Breast Pain, Dry eyes, To treat asthma as well as whooping cough, Nourishes nails, scalp and hair, Menstrual Pain, Prevent diabetes-associated nerve damage, Controls hair loss, Improve Fertility, Heart Health, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Skin Health
Evening primrose scientifically known as Oenothera biennis is native to Europe as well as North America and has been a part of traditional medications since ancient times. Legend has it that leaves and seeds of the Evening Primrose were used by Native Americans for curing bruises, wounds, hemorrhoids as well as other skin related problems. The biennial herbaceous plant grows wild in North America and blooms bright yellow flowers. The plant gets its name because of its large fragrant flowers which bloom in evening and partly or fully closed during a day time. The plant can thrive in various adverse climatic conditions such as sandy soils, in dunes, meadows and also in waste land. The roots, flowers, fruit, and seeds of Evening Primrose have been used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes for ages.

Evening primrose oil is the oil derived from the seeds of the evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) plant. The oil is normally thin, clear yellow colored and has slightly nutty smell. The oil is one of the richest natural sources of an omega 6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is responsible for the oil’s health benefits. Traditionally, evening primrose oil was referred to as the ‘King’s cure-all’ due to its many healing properties. Evening primrose oil has been called the most sensational preventive discovery since vitamin C. It consists of pain relieving compound phenylalanine and is progressively being used to treat chronic headaches. It is presently being studied all over the world as a treatment for aging problems, alcoholism, acne, heart disease, hyperactivity in children, symptoms of menopause, multiple sclerosis, weight control, obesity, PMS and schizophrenia. It has so many preventive and therapeutic qualities that it has become a standard part of recommendations of many herbalists for maintaining youth and preventing disease.


It is a biennial plant which measures 7′ tall or shorter than that. The plant could be seen during late summer or fall. It could be found in disturbed areas such as sand prairies, soil prairies, lakeshore dunes, glades, thickets, roadsides, abandoned fields, lakeshore dunes, slopes of drainage ditches, railroads, roadsides, vacant lots. This plant prefers well drained soils with full sun. It is grown from seed.


The plant blooms fragrant flowers which are up to 2-3 cm long and 1″ across. The flowers which are open are lower in comparison to buds. Flower has four obovate petals with prominent stamens, inferior ovary with 4 sectioned stigmas and has green calyz. It has acuminate, lanceolate sepals that are smooth and pale green with few scattered hairs. Flowers open from evening to early morning and provide a mild lemony scent. It usually blooms from mid-summer to fall.

Fruit and Seeds

It bears linear to oblong, quadrangular fruit which is a downy-villous capsule measuring 3 cm long. The seeds inside the fruit are dark gray to black in color having irregular sharp edges and are 1.5 mm long.

Leaves, root and stem

The roots are fleshy; spindle shaped measures about 1 m and resembles turnip. It produces leaf rosettes in first year. It has branched or unbranched stem. The ovary is a capsule which is covered in a short and glandular hair which is light and simple on purple papilla. The plant has central stem that has alternate leaves. Stems are usually light green or red in color which is covered with white hairs. Leaves are light or olive green measuring 2″ wide and 8″ long which is lanceolate in shape. The leaves margins are slightly dentate or smooth. It has oblong to lanceolate cauline leaves that are sessile or shortpetioled, irregular, pointed and finely dentate.

Health benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose plant grows wild in North America and blooms bright yellow flowers in the evening, hence its name. The oil pressed from the seeds is one of the richest natural sources of an omega 6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is responsible for the oil’s health benefits. Traditionally, evening primrose oil was referred to as the ‘King’s cure-all’ due to its many healing properties. The roots, flowers, fruit, and seeds of Evening Primrose have been used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes for ages. Evening primrose oil has been used in holistic medicine for hundreds of years and has recently gained attention from both holistic and traditional medical practitioners as a healing agent and an anti-inflammatory supplement.

Evening primrose oil has been traditionally used by Native Americans and herbalists to treat a variety of different ailments. The soothing natural oil is often used to ease pain and inflammation from eczema and arthritis, and has shown to be beneficial when it is applied directly to the skin. Evening primrose oil is also used to treat diabetic nerve damage, and is also proving to be mildly effective at reducing bone loss due to osteoporosis. While the natural oil has shown to be effective for these health conditions, it is still undergoing testing for its effectiveness at treating other health conditions. Listed are some of the popular health benefits of Primrose oil:

1. Skin Health

Evening primrose oil has proved to be a valuable treatment for people suffering from skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science have even shown that evening primrose oil can help with age-related structural and functional changes in skin tissues like redness, firmness, roughness and fatigue resistance.

Eczema is generally caused by an allergic response to foods, chemicals or other substances, such as perfumes or soaps; it causes dry, red, itchy skin that can blister or crack.(1)

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a kind of prolonged arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body like hands, both wrists and both knees. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is a combination of genetic, environmental and hormonal factors.

Research shows that primrose oil may be a suitable natural remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. When using evening primrose oil for symptoms of arthritis, it may take one to three months for benefits to appear.(2)

3. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is actually a small hole or weakened areas that are formed in the bone which could result in fractures, pain and a Dowager’s hump (a hump at the upper back). One major reason of osteoporosis is a hormonal imbalance, but the good news is that there are natural treatments for osteoporosis that are highly effective such as using evening primrose oil to regulate hormonal issues.

Researches suggest that people who don’t get enough of some essential fatty acids are more likely to have bone loss than those with normal levels of these fatty acids. Taking evening primrose oil, along with fish oil and calcium, appears to decrease bone loss and increase bone density in elderly people with osteoporosis.

4. Heart Health

Evening primrose oil is useful to maintain a healthy heart. Using this oil on a daily basis can lower cholesterol, blood pressure and protect the heart from coronary artery disease.

5. Improve Fertility

Evening primrose oil is a natural method for women to increase their chances of conception, because GLA increases the body’s production of cervical mucus – an important factor in successful reproduction.

The high levels of essential fatty acids in the oil can benefit fertility in another way too – they cause the contraction and relaxation of muscle tissue in the uterine wall, helping in preparation for pregnancy. However, those who are already pregnant should talk to their doctor before taking EPO, as uterine contractions may cause issues.

6. Controls hair loss

Hair fall or excess loss of hair may end up in balding. It is due to poor diet, exposure to excessive pollution, heat and hormonal problems.

Massaging your scalp and hair with 5 ounce of Evening primrose oil along with 5 drops of Rosemary oil and 5 drops of Lemongrass oil can help in strengthening the hair follicles, moisturizing the scalp and reducing itching and scaly flakes on the scalp with the presence of omega-6 fatty acids.

7. Prevent diabetes-associated nerve damage

Research indicates that the GLA in evening primrose oil can help prevent, and in some cases even reverse, the nerve damage (neuropathy) so commonly seen with diabetes. In a year-long research, such symptoms as numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation in participants with mild diabetic neuropathy were less marked in those who took evening primrose oil than in those who took a placebo.

8. Menstrual Pain

Evening primrose oil is the best natural remedy for distress during menstrual period. Using this oil can also reduce many symptoms of PMS.

9. Nourishes nails, scalp and hair

The essential fatty acids in Evening Primrose Oil prevent nails from cracking, helping them remain generally healthy. The essential fatty acids found in EPO are also great for the scalp. Thus, this supplement is particularly valuable in treating a variety of hair problems.

10. To treat asthma as well as whooping cough

Frequent consumption of evening primrose herbal tea helps in curing whooping cough as well as asthma. To make herbal tea take one teaspoon of dried and crushed primrose flowers and add them in one cup of boiling water. Let it boil for five minutes. Drain the crushed leaves and have the tea while still hot or warm. You can also add honey in it for taste. Having this herbal tea twice in a day is beneficial.

11. Dry eyes

Evening primrose oil helps to reduce dry eyes, especially in contact lens wearers. Research involving 76 women who took either EPO or placebo (olive oil) for 6 months, found those taking EPO showed major improvements in dryness and overall lens comfort. The viscosity of tears was also increased.

12. Breast Pain

Evening primrose oil is sometimes used in the treatment of mastalgia (breast pain), particularly for cyclical mastalgia when women develop pain in the breasts just before menstruation. Many women who suffer from mastalgia are found to be low in omega 6 fatty acids, so supplementing with evening primrose oil throughout the month may help to balance levels and relieve pain. To date, the findings from clinical trials have been mixed, but it appears that a combination of 3000mg of evening primrose oil and 1200 IU of vitamin E can reduce breast pain in some women when taken for at least four months.

13. To treat boils or bruises

Evening primrose oil has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it quite beneficial in treating bruises, boils or inflammation of the skin. A poultice of primrose is what you need. To make the poultice, take some crushed and dried evening primrose leaves and wrap it in a poultice. Heat the poultice but make sure it is not extremely hot. Place the poultice on the affected part for a while. If possible then wrap the poultice like a bandage and leave it overnight. You can also take a primrose herbal capsule every day for speedy cure.

14. PMS

Many women find that evening primrose oil offers relief from common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), mainly mood swings, breast tenderness and menstrual cramps. It is thought that GLA’s ability to regulate prostaglandins helps to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to hormone fluctuations that occur around menstruation. Many women who suffer from severe PMS, endometriosis, or PCOS are found to have low levels of GLA.

15. Brain Function

Evening primrose oil helps to reduce the risk of common brain disorders such as hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), depression, and schizophrenia. Prostaglandins act as chemical messengers in the brain and help to regulate nerve impulses, which are thought to support normal brain functioning, impulse control and concentration. One study involving ADHD patients found that taking a combination of omega 3 and 6 for four months suggestively reduced symptoms when taken at dosages of 2-4 grams for children or 2-8 grams for adults.

16. Helps quit alcohol addiction

Gamma-linoleic acid aids in stimulating the brain to secrete prostaglandin E, which can help in bringing more self-control and self-confidence to support withdrawal challenges.

Evening primrose oil has been suggested by Traditional and Alternative medicine practitioners for treating chronic fatigue syndrome, alcoholism, emotional repression, feelings of rejection, negative emotions, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain other psychological problems.

Recommended dosage of evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil is most often taken in the form of capsules, but it is also available as oil. It can be applied to the skin to treat skin conditions.

Take 500mg each day for two months. Then, if you suffer from PMS, for the 10 days preceding menstruation. During the menopause, 2,000 – 4,000 mg should be taken daily for four weeks, and then 500 – 1,000 mg daily thereafter.

For asthma, take two 500mg capsules three times daily for 3-4 months, thenone capsule three times daily. If you are taking steroids, this treatment will not work because steroids interfere with evening primrose’s action.

Traditional uses and benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

  • Native Americans used evening primrose oil seeds, leaves and roots for food.
  • They also made poultices from the whole plant to heal bruises, and decoctions of the roots to treat hemorrhoids.
  • The leaves were employed to treat minor wounds, gastrointestinal complaints, and sore throats.
  • It’s commonly used by midwives around the world as an alternative to harsher chemicals for preparing the cervix for labor.
  • It also prevents blood clotting and it regulates cholesterol.
  • It causes gradual decrease of triglyceride levels.
  • It can treat many skin problems such as itching, redness and drying.
  • Evening primrose oil generally reduces redness and inflammation and can be used to cure rosacea.
  • If one suffers from diabetes they should drink supplements of evening primrose in order to prevent nerve damaging.
  • Evening primrose oil brings vitality to the body.
  • It is great in activating immune system cells, too.
  • Applying evening primrose oil to infants with diaper rash was similar to applying skin protection cream after 8 weeks.
  • Evening primrose oil product improved mental performance in children with dyslexia.
  • The infusion made from the plant possess astringent and sedative properties so it is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, asthmatic coughs, whooping cough and acts as a pain killer.
  • The poultice speeds up the healing process and bruises.
  • It is also used for psoriasis, premenstrual syndrome, hypercholesterolaemia, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, postviral fatigue syndrome and diabetic neuropath.
  • It is useful for premenstrual syndrome and neurodermatitis.
  • It is used for treating menopausal hot flashes, high cholesterol level, mastalgia and hyperactivity in children.
  • Bruises are cured with the poultice made from the plant.
  • It also treats bowl pain.
  • Use syrup made from flowers for whooping cough.
  • Use it internally for treating acne, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, brittle nails and liver damage related to alcohol.
  • The daily intake of oil helps to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Apply the poultice made from root for bruises and piles.
  • The root tea is helpful for treating bowel pains and obesity.
  • Flowering stems are grounded into powder and used in face masks to treat reddened skins.
  • Use Evening Primrose oil along with calcium and fish oil to lower the bone loss and promote bone density.


  • It causes indigestion, mild gastrointestinal effects, softening of stools, nausea and headaches.
  • Excessive use of Evening Primrose leads to abdominal pain and loose stools.
  • In the patients who are receiving phenothiazines, it might increase the chances of seizure.
  • Pregnant women should not use it because it increases the chances of complications.
  • If used on an empty stomach, it causes nausea and headaches.
  • Not to be used with antiplatelet or anticoagulants and blood pressure medications.
  • Not to be used by the people with blood disorder or bleeding problems.
  • It is better to use after consulting a health practitioner.
  • It increases the chances of bleeding if used with anticoagulants, aspirin, heparin, warfarin, non-steroidal, clopidogrel, naproxen and ibuprofen.
  • If you take medication for blood thinning or blood pressure medication, speak to your health care provider before consuming evening primrose oil.
  • Evening primrose oil is probably safe for most people when taken for short periods of time. There can be mild side effects, such as stomach upset and headache.
  • Evening primrose oil should be taken in recommended doses under the guidance of a health care professional to avoid its side effects.
  • Do not use if you suffer from temporal-lobe epilepsy or manic depression.

How to Eat

  • The root of Evening primrose is consumed as a vegetable along with peppery flavor.
  • Young leaves are cooked as greens.
  • Shoots are consumed raw.
  • The plant is also used to make tea.

Other Facts        

  • The seed oil is also used in cosmetics and skin preparations.
  • Evening Primrose oil is abbreviated as EPO and is a great source of omega 6 essential fatty acids.
  • It is composed of GLA and linoleic acid which are vital components of myelin that acts as a protective coating around nerve fibers and neuronal cell membrane.
  • Evening Primrose oil could be found in the form of capsules as well.
  • A yellow dye is extracted from flowers.
























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