Evening primrose oil (EPO) has several health benefits. It is a dietary supplement. Also, you can buy it without a recommendation from a doctor most of the time. 

People have been using EPO for several centuries. History ran beyond the 18th century when native Americans used the Evening Primrose plant as part of their medical practices.

Evening Primrose oil is made from the seeds of the common evening primrose, and its scientific name is Oenothera biennis.

The EPO is used for various health-related problems. The health benefits come from its key ingredients, Linolenic acid and gamolenic acid.

These are healthy fatty acids. These oils are essential components of the cell membrane of human cells. The gamolenic acid is responsible for the biosynthesis of prostaglandin E1 and 15-hydroxy-eicosatrienoic acid, which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

Further, the health actions of the EPO can also be attributed to the action of its essential fatty acids on the immune system and the ability to suppress inflammatory responses.

The EPO is commonly used for women’s health conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, post-menopausal period and breast pain.

1. Evening primrose oil reduces premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

The premenstrual symptom is a condition experienced by women the week before their period. Most women have experienced PMS at some point in their life. 

The symptoms of PMS include mood swings, anxiety or irritability, tiredness, bloating or tummy pain, breast pain, headache and changes in sex drive.

Prolactin sensitivity is the reason for PMS. A metabolite of gamolenic acid of EPO, Posterglandin E1, blocks the triggering of PMS due to prolactin.

2. EPO has a positive effect during premenopausal and post-menopausal period

Premenopausal time is defined as the time immediately before the stop of the menstrual period. Post-menopausal means the period after the cessation of the menstrual cycle.

There are hormonal changes in the body; therefore, these periods are very uncomfortable. You will have hot flushes, irritability, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse and several other issues.

The EPO can be used as an alternative treatment and an over-the-counter supplement to alleviate the discomfort associated with menopause.

3. Evening primrose oil helps to improve skin health 

The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in EPO helps to improve the skin structure. They also promote optimal skin functions.

Since the body doesn’t produce gamma-linolenic acid alone, research shows that taking evening primrose oil rich in gamma-linolenic acid helps maintain the skin’s firmness, elasticity, and moisture.

4. And they help to reduce acne

Gamma-linolenic acid has numerous beneficial effects on the skin, such as reducing inflammation. According to studies, EPO reduces acne by acting on the lesions and reducing associated inflammation.

Another effect of EPO is that it is good for furrowing the angle of the mouth, a condition known as cheilitis.

5. Evening primrose oil eases eczema.

Another benefit of EPO on the skin is that it reduces eczema. Eczema is a quite common skin condition. It is an inflammatory skin condition which results in itchy skin. Scratching further irritates and inflames the skin. This can cause infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Gamma-linolenic acid in the EPO nourishes the skin and helps to keep the skin moist, thus reducing skin irritation.

6. Evening primrose oil is good for heart health.

EPO is shown to reduce inflammation (anti-inflammatory), lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterols, which are the main reasons for heart attacks.

Suppose you have heart disease and are on medication. In that case, you need to consult your doctor before taking EPO because it may affect certain drugs for your heart disease.

7. Reduces nerve damage and pain

Nerve pain is very uncomfortable. When damage to nerves due to certain chronic diseases such as you, develop neuropathic pain.  Nerve pain or peripheral neuropathy can have symptoms: numbness, weakness, sensitivity to either hot or cold temperatures, or both, and tingling.

Supplementation of EPO affects reducing nerve pain. 

How to take evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil is available as a dietary supplement. Many preparations are fortified with vitamin E now. Vit E is essential for many bodily functions and has antioxidant effects.

You can purchase EPO over the counter without a prescription from a medical practitioner.

However, if you have any medical conditions and are on medication, you need to discuss them with your treating doctor before starting on EPO. 

The recommendation is to take evening primrose oil for a shorter duration of 6 to 12 months. You can take one capsule per day with water. If you plan to increase the dose, discussing it with your family doctor is better. 

This is because the effect of prolonged use of evening primrose oil is not well studied. Further, if you exceed the recommended level of vitamin E, it could be toxic. 

Is there a risk associated, and what do you need to know

Now, you can see that you have to consider all these facts before taking EPO.

One reason for recommending EPO for a short period is that the effects of long-term use have not been thoroughly studied yet.

Since it can be used without medical practitioners’ recommendations, you must be aware of the possible adverse effects.

Side effects of EPO are usually mild and may include:

  • upset stomach or pain
  • headache
  • loose stools
  • Some people may show an allergic reaction to evening primrose oil

The Bottom Line

Evening primrose oil is a plant-based oil with GLA and anti-inflammatory properties.

It is effective for several health conditions. Experts recommended taking it for a short duration because the long-term effects have not been studied well.

The possible side effects are mild, but there is a risk of bleeding when on blood thinning medication and a drop in blood pressure in individuals who take medication for high blood pressure. 

Exploring the Healing Potential of Evening Primrose Oil Supplements