Evening Primrose Oil: May support symptom relief associated with PMS
• May have positive effects on cardiovascular health
• May support healthy weight
• May support breast health
• May support healthy immune function
• Shown to reduce symptoms associated with diabetes
• May support skin health
What is Evening Primrose Oil?
Native to North America, the evening primrose is a tiny and short-lived wildflower and not a true primrose. When Europeans found it and took it to Europe, its purported healing properties for skin diseases and flesh wounds quickly earned it the name "King's cure-all." Evening primrose is now grown in 30 or more countries, and the oil pressed from its seed is marketed as a nutritional supplement and as a great source of linoleic acid.
Evening primrose oil is a source not only of linoleic acid but also of another kind of fatty acid called gamo-lenic acid (also known as gamma linolenic acid, or GLA). This fatty acid, normally manufactured by the body from linoleic acid, is important in many ways. It is transformed by the body eventually into eicosanoids, hormone-like chemicals that include the prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help control such processes as inflammation, blood clotting, and cholesterol synthesis.
Why should you take Evening Primrose Oil?
Prementrual Syndrome: Evening primrose oil has been shown to improve symptoms including premenstrual headaches, depression, irritability, and bloating.
Breast Health: The pain and tenderness associated with premenstrual breast pain and fibrocystic breasts has been alleviated with evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil may also be used as supplementation for prevention of breast diseases.
Menopause: Evening primrose oil and other oils containing GLA are popularly consumed by women to decrease the symptoms of menopause. GLA in the form of evening primrose oil has been found to reduce the maximum number of nighttime flushes associated with menopause.
Pregnancy and Fetal Development: Essential fatty acids have a unique role during pregnancy because of the rapid development of new cell growth, new tissues, and new organ systems in a developing fetus. Fetal development is associated with a high EFA requirement which can be obtained through evening primrose oil. This supply is dependent on the amount and availability of EFA’s from the mother.
Skin Health: Nutritional supplementation with GLA is one of the most important tools in treating eczema. GLA also helps moisturize the skin and protect it from environmental oxidative damage. There have been many scientific studies using GLA with excellent benefits in improving the symptoms of eczema.9, 10, 11, 12 Dosages in the range of 0.5 to 3 grams of GLA are appropriate. Both evening primrose oils and borage oil have been used in these studies.
Diabetes: Diabetes is associated with abnormalities in essential fatty acid metabolism. One of these abnormalities is an impairment in the conversion of LA to GLA. By supplementing with GLA in the form of evening primrose oil, we can bypass this impairment and give the body the GLA it needs. Individuals with diabetic related neuropathies have been studied using GLA. Significant favorable changes have been observed in muscle strength, hot and cold thresholds, sensation, and reflexes.
Cardiovascular: Supplementing with 3 grams of GLA daily for four months has been shown to decrease triglyceride levels by 48 percent, increase HDL ("good" cholesterol) by 22 percent, and significantly reduce total cholesterol and LDL ("bad" cholesterol). We should always include evening primrose oil supplementation in our heart disease treatment and prevention plans in addition to other EFA oils.
High blood pressure (a reading above 140/90) is another risk factor for heart disease. More than 60 double-blind studies have demonstrated that either fish oil supplements or flaxseed oil are effective in lowering blood pressure. Again, we would be wise not to forget about the potential of evening primrose oil in this regard. In a study combining evening primrose oil and fish oil supplementation, blood pressure was significantly lowered when compared to evening primrose oil plus sunflower and evening primrose oil plus flax oil.
Osteoporosis: It appears evident from published research that we must expand our use of EFAs to maximize calcium metabolism and preserve bone health. There is a growing body of evidence and research to warrant advice about EFA’s and calcium metabolism, bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis. EFA’s have been shown to increase calcium absorption from the gut (in part by enhancing the effects of vitamin D), reduce urinary excretion of calcium, increase calcium that is deposited in the bone and improve the strength of bone.