Why You Need To Use Evening Primrose Oil?

Written by Sindhu Koganti , BTech (Biotechnology), Diploma In Nutrition

Evening primrose oil is a popular dietary supplement derived from the seeds of a plant (Oenotherabiennis) native to North America. It is known for its amazing medicinal values and can be applied directly to the skin. The oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid and antioxidants, and possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.

What health benefits does evening primrose oil offer? In this article, we explore the health benefits of evening primrose oil, its dosage, how to use it, and potential risks. Keep reading.

What Is Evening Primrose Oil?

This oil is extracted from the seeds of evening primrose. The plant is also referred to as evening star and sun drop, and belongs to the Onagraceae family. It has yellow flowers that open at sunset and close during the day. Its leaves are used to treat stomach issues, sore throat, and hemorrhoids. Each part of the plant is edible.

The antioxidants and omega-6 fatty acids in evening primrose oil help treat many ailments. Continue reading to know the oil’s health benefits.

Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil

1. Helps Treat Acne

Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that helps improve skin moisture and reduce water loss through skin. This omega-6 fatty acid has anti-inflammatory properties and may also improve skin barrier function (1) (2). A study suggests that a combination of omega-3, 6, and gamma-linolenic acid has the highest potential to minimize inflammatory skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis (2).

Evening primrose oil was also found to treat xerotic cheilitis (chapping of lips) in people with acne who were being treated with oral isotretinoin (a retinoid) (1). However, more studies are needed in this regard.

2. May Ease Atopic Dermatitis

Evening primrose oil contains 72% linoleic acid and 10% gamma-linolenic acid. Its oral supplementation may reduce atopic dermatitis (red and itchy skin) (3). A review published in Annals of Dermatology also backs this claim (4). However, not all studies have shown similar results. Hence, further trials are needed.

3. May Relieve PMS Symptoms

Taking two capsules (500 mg) of evening primrose oil twice a day for six weeks was found to decrease the intensity of hot flashes (5). Similarly, a review published in the Journal of Menopausal Medicine found that taking 1000 mg capsules twice a day may reduce the frequency and severity of night sweats (6). The gamma-linolenic acid in evening primrose oil may also treat depression, irritability, and breast pain and tenderness associated with premenstrual syndrome (7). Besides, taking a supplement containing vitamin E, vitamin B6, and evening primrose oil may also relieve PMS symptoms (8).

4. May Improve Heart Health

Supplementing evening primrose oil through diet was shown to decrease vascular thrombogenesis (blockage in blood vessels) in rabbits (9). Besides, the omega-6 fatty acids in evening primrose oil are also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The oil was found to improve cardiac recovery in hypercholesterolemic (high blood cholesterol levels) rats (10). However, more human studies are warranted to understand this benefit of evening primrose oil.

5. May Minimize Nerve Pain

Nerve pain is commonly associated with diabetic neuropathy. Ingesting 360 mg of gamma-linolenic acid may help prevent and treat diabetic polyneuropathy (11). The omega-6fattyacid and linolenic acid in evening primrose oil may also treat nerve disturbances (12). Besides, linolenic acid deficiency may cause weakness, numbness, blurred vision, and inability to walk (13).

6. May Reduce Osteoporosis Risk

Experts predict that osteoporosis-related fractures may increase health care expenditure by 25.3 billion dollars by 2025 (14). A diet rich in polyunsaturated fats may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women who are on hormonal therapy (15). Evening primrose oil is rich in these fats and linolenic acid, and was found to improve bone mineral density among older people (16). Besides, a combination of evening primrose, fish oil, and calcium may improve bone density and decrease bone loss (17). However, more studies are warranted to understand the benefit of evening primrose oil.

7. May Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that affects the joints. A study conducted by Australian Catholic University, Australia, found that gamma-linolenic acid from evening primrose oil may help relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (18). Taking 540 mg/day of gamma-linolenic acid through diet for six months was found to improve the condition (19). Besides, the anti-inflammatory properties of evening primrose oil may help reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (20).

8. Helps With Hair Growth

Evening primrose contains arachidonic acid (omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid), which has been found effective in promoting hair growth (21), (22). This fatty acid was shown to enhance the proliferation of follicles and their survival. However, more studies are needed to understand the benefit of evening primrose oil.

In addition, evening primrose oil can improve fatigue and quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis (inflammatory disease of the central nervous system) (23). Also, taking a combination of evening primrose oil (3000 mg) and vitamin E (1200 IU) for six months may help reduce cyclic mastalgia (breast pain) (24).

How do you include evening primrose oil into your skincare regimen?Here are a few steps you can follow to reap its benefits.

How To Use Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil can be applied topically or taken as oral supplements. It can be paired with herbs or other oils to make face packs or creams. It also reduces your hair fall effectively. Use evening primrose oil supplements if your hair fall is related to hormonal imbalance or medication. Apply evening primrose oil topically if your hair loss is related to scalp issues like itching or dryness.

Note: Take an evening primrose oil supplement soon after a meal and not on an empty stomach. You need not dilute evening primrose oil. Do a patch test before using it.

Continue reading to know about the recommended dosage of evening primrose oil.

Recommended Dosage Of Evening Primrose Oil

There is no specific dosage recommended for the use of evening primrose oil. The dosage may vary based on the brand you use or your health concern. A daily intake of 500 milligrams is generally considered safe for adults. However, many people can tolerate up to 1,300 milligrams per day without any side effects. But these claims lack scientific evidence. Moreover, the oil should not be administered to children. Consult your doctor before using its supplements to avoid any potential side effects.

Note: Look for certifications like U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, or Consumer Lab while buying supplements.

Using excessive amounts of evening primrose oil is associated with certain side effects. What are they? Keep scrolling to know them.

Side Effects Of Evening Primrose Oil

Short-term use of evening primrose oil is generally considered safe while there are no recorded details of its long-term use. However, using an excess amount of this oil may cause headaches and gastrointestinal upset (25). It may also cause an allergic reaction in rare cases. Besides, its oral administration may increase the incidence of prolonged rupture of membranes (26).

Note: Pregnant women should avoid the use of evening primrose oil.

Takeaway

Evening primrose oil is replete with omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. You can either take it as a supplement or apply it topically. The oil may help reduce acne, improve heart health, promote hair growth, minimize nerve pain, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. It has fewer side effects and they are usually mild. However, information about its recommended dosage is limited. Consult your doctor before using it in any form to avoid its side effects.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is it okay to take evening primrose oil every day?

Yes, you may. Oral intake of evening primrose oil (6g/day) is considered safe. Do not exceed this limit. Consult your doctor for more information.

When to take evening primrose oil?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that evening primrose oil can be taken at any time. However, caution is advised as it may cause dizziness in a few. Avoid taking it during the day if you feel dizzy after its intake.

References:

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  1. The Effect of Evening Primrose Oil for the Prevention of XeroticCheilitis in Acne Patients Being Treated with Isotretinoin: A Pilot Study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4252667/
  2. Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31979308/
  3. Supplementation with evening primrose oil in atopic dermatitis: Effect on fatty acids in neutrophils and epidermis
    https://aocs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1007/BF02536604
  4. Effect of Evening Primrose Oil on Korean Patients With Mild Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized Double-Blinded Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6029968/
  5. The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23625331/
  6. The Effect of Evening Primrose Oil Capsule on Hot Flashes and Night Sweats in Postmenopausal Women: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC8102809/
  7. The role of essential fatty acids and prostaglandins in the premenstrual syndrome
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6350579/
  8. Femicomfort in the Treatment of Premenstrual Syndromes: A Double-Blind Randomized and Placebo Controlled Trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3430493/
  9. Effect of dietary supplementation with evening primrose oil on vascular thrombogenesis in hyperlipemic rabbits
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9798993/
  10. Evening primrose oil ameliorates platelet aggregation and improves cardiac recovery in myocardial-infarct hypercholesterolemic rats
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3961099/
  11. The Effect of γ-Linolenic Acid on Human Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: A Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1464-5491.1990.tb01397.x
  12. The Changes in Rats with Sciatic Nerve Crush Injury Supplemented with Evening Primrose Oil: Behavioural Morphologic and Morphometric Analysis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28620418/
  13. A case of human linolenic acid deficiency involving neurological abnormalities
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6801965/
  14. Associations of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Intake with Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women
    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jos/2015/737521/
  15. Associations of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Intake with Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4346685/
  16. Calcium gamma-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid supplementation in senile osteoporosis
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03339885
  17. A systematic review of omega-3 fatty acids and osteoporosis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3899785/
  18. Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21328257/
  19. Evening primrose oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and side-effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1913008/
  20. Clinical Benefits of n-3 PUFA and ɤ-Linolenic Acid in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
    https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/4/325/htm
  21. Dose-Dependent Effects of Evening Primrose Oil in Children and Adolescents with Atopic Dermatitis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3756191/
  22. Role of Arachidonic Acid in Promoting Hair Growth
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4737836/
  23. The effect of evening primrose oil on fatigue and quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6003444/
  24. Vitamin E and evening primrose oil for management of cyclical mastalgia: a randomized pilot study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20359269/
  25. Evening primrose oil
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20000302/
  26. Oral evening primrose oil: its effect on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk nulliparous women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10380450/

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