Evening Primrose oil is obtained from the flower of the Oenothera biennis plant, a wildflower found across the United States. The plant has been used to treat a variety of illnesses including heart disease, infertility, preeclampsia, arthritis, depression, juvenile hyperactivity, impaired immunity, as well as alcoholism and obesity.
Evening Primrose Contains Gamma Linolenic Acid
The seeds of the evening primrose plant contain gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, which is a fatty acid used by the body for a variety of functions. The evening primrose is one of the few sources of this essential fatty acid. GLA aids the body in reducing inflammation because it stimulates the production of prostaglandins, abbreviated as PFE1. Prostaglandins are messenger molecules that act in a manner similar to hormones, but are produced throughout the body. They were first identified in the prostate gland, hence the name.
Evening Primrose in Native American Healing
Called King’s Cure-all by the early inhabitants of North America, the plant has a long history in healing and was used by the Native American healers for a variety of illnesses, including hangovers. They also found the plant useful in treating skin problems as well as digestive complaints and liver toxicity. The plant was found to be especially useful to women and modern science has proven this effectiveness.
Evening Primrose and Fertility
Evening Primrose oil increases fertility because of its effect on mucous production in the cervix. The increased mucous aids fertilization. The oil is also used to reduce the risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia, two conditions that threaten pregnancies. Preeclampsia is marked by high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to serious complications for both mother and child.
Evening Primrose’s Effect on Cholesterol and Heart Health
High cholesterol levels can be reduced by consuming evening primrose oil. The oil has even been shown to reduce high blood pressure. The mechanism appears to be the action of the prostaglandins (PGE1) on preventing blood clotting and arterial spasming.
Evening Primrose for Weight Loss
Evening Primrose oil has also been used to stimulate fat burning in weight loss regimes, as it encourages the fatty tissue to burn calories.
Evening Primrose and Excema
Evening primrose oil has been used to treat eczema and dry dermatitis. It is added to many creams and formulas for this purpose. Studies have shown its effectiveness in treating a variety of non-inflammatory types of dermatitis as well as psoriasis and acne.
Evening Primrose Benefits Arthritis
Research has shown that evening primrose oil may be helpful in treating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The method of action appears to be the reduction of inflammation produced by the prostaglandins.
Side Effects of Evening Primrose Oil
The oil has few side effects, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but can cause stomach upsets or headaches. Pregnant women are not advised to take evening primrose oil, along with those on blood thinning or epileptic medication.