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Evening Primrose

 –  A native North American plant, evening primrose is also found in parts of the southern hemisphere as well as in Europe. The plant produces yellow flowers that only open up in the evening hours. In addition to flowers, the plant produces seeds. Evening primrose oil is extracted, using a cold pressed method, from the seeds of the plant. The oil can be placed into capsules to be used as a dietary supplement. The Latin name of this plant is Oenothera biennis.
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What is Evening Primrose Used For?

Evening primrose oil contains the essential fatty acids gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and linoleic acid (LA). Essential fatty acids are needed for proper growth and development. The body is not able to make these fatty acids so they must be obtained through food sources. The average diet typically contains an adequate amount of these types of essential fatty acids; however some individuals may opt to take evening primrose oil supplements for the potential health benefits they may provide.

How is Evening Primrose Used in Traditional Therapies?

Native Americans used many parts of the plant (seedpods, roots, and leaves) as a therapy for various problems occurring on the skin’s surface, including bruises, wounds, and hemorrhoids. As early as the 1930s, evening primrose oil was used in traditional therapies as a remedy to help minimize the scaling, itchiness, and redness created by eczema, a condition that causes the skin to be inflamed and irritated.

Evening Primrose Oil For Inflammation

Since the 1930s, it has also been used for a variety of other potential health benefits. Some naturopaths believe the evening primrose supplement may be beneficial in reducing inflammation in certain conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Does Evening Primrose Oil Work For PMS?

Another common use of evening primrose supplements is for possible support of women’s health. Some naturopaths believe it is helpful in relieving symptoms for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including cramps, breast discomfort, and headaches.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of scientific studies to support the use of evening primrose oil for these conditions. Some research has shown that evening primrose oil may alleviate itchiness associated with eczema and certain other skin conditions. However, not all results have been conclusive and further evidence is needed.

Evening Primrose Supplements

Evening primrose oil may be used for a variety of reasons to potentially support overall health. These supplements are available in softgel capsule forms and are sold in different potencies, including 500 mg, 1000 mg, and 1300 mg. Products containing 1000 mg or 1300 mg are often labeled as “deluxe” or “super potency,” indicating they may provide a higher concentration of the essential fatty acids contained in evening primrose oil.

As a precaution, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a physician prior to deciding to incorporate supplements into their diet. Additionally, anyone currently taking medications or undergoing medical treatments should consult with their physician prior to taking any supplements due to the potential for side effects or interactions with other therapies. You should read product labels and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider before adding evening primrose oil into your diet.

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