Evening primrose is an indigenous plant to North America.
The flowers have a strong, sweet scent, and only bloom at night during the months of June through October.
Evening primrose oil has been used for hundreds of years to treat various ailments of the skin and muscular system.
Several Native American tribes discovered that the entire plant is edible. And could be used as a painkiller in addition to everyday consumption.
In Europe it is a proven treatment for PMS.
The bark and leaves of evening primrose are said to have astringent and sedative properties.
It has been proven to be effective treatment in regards to gastro-intestinal disorders, asthma and chronic or whooping coughs.
Evening primrose is rich in amino acids and essential amino acids such as omega 6.
Essential fatty acids magnetize oxygen as well as produce electrical currents.
Once in the body amino acids and essential amino acids are transformed into hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Which condense allergic response and inflammation.
Existence without essential fatty acids is impossible because they are vital to the electrical reactions of cells.
Essential fatty acids carry vitamins, enhance metabolism and transport oxygen to the tissues.
They are indispensable to the adrenal glands, brain cells, retinas, sensory organs, synapses and testes.
Essential fatty acids act as solvents to eliminate hardened fat inside the human body.
They are also involved in generating the electric currents that maintain regular heartbeats. Regulating chromosome stability and will even help with weight loss.
Here is a list of major constituents found in evening primrose:
Alanine (0.5%), arginine (1.5%), aspartic acid (1.2%), beta-sitosterol (1.2-2.5%), calcium (1.3-1.8%), cellulose (27%), gamma-linolenic acid (0.5-10%), glutamic acid (2.7%), glycine (1%), fat (15-32%), fiber (43%), histidine (0.4%), isoleucine (0.5%), leucine (1%), lignin (16%), linoleic acid (12-22%), lysine (0.3%), methionine (0.6%), phenylalanine (0.7%), proline (0.6%), protein (15-17%), serine (0.9%) threonine (0.4%), tryptophan (up to 1.6%), tyrosine (0.4%), valine (up to 0.8%) and other lesser constituents.
Gamma linolenic acid
GLA or Gamma linolenic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Gamma linolenic acid (or GLA) aids the body to manufacture energy. And it also helps to form parts of the structural fats that encompass bone marrow, the brain, cell membranes and muscles.
This Gamma linolenic acid is transformed by the body into prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help the body because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
Prostaglandins can also act like a blood thinner and blood vessel dilator.
They are hormone-like substances produced in the body’s tissues.
Prostaglandin deficiency can result in disruption of the nerve impulse transmission. Increase blood clotting time, inflammation and weaken immune response.
Primrose oil with a high concentration of gamma linolenic acid is favorable for ailments related to essential fatty acid deficiency and the inability to metabolize essential fatty acids.
Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil is beneficial in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, lowering blood cholesterol levels, asthma, allergies, PMS, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, skin irritation, rashes, anxiety, water retention, breast soreness, depression, coughs, irritability, and the prevention of benign prostatic hypertrophy. It can also act as a stimulant for the digestive system, liver and spleen.
Primrose oil has also been indispensable in the treatment of acne, brittle nails, eczema, hyperactivity, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy and alcohol related liver damage.
There are other conditions where evening primrose is currently being tested for effectiveness, including breast cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, stomach ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease.
Scientists have said
Scientists have said that the studies on evening primrose have been promising. However there is not enough conclusive data available at this time.
People with seizure disorders should only use omega-6 supplements of any kind, under the care and supervision of a licensed medical doctor, because omega-6 including gamma linolenic acid has had reports of inducing seizures in seizure-vulnerable persons.
When purchasing evening primrose oil it is important that the company states the percentages of gamma linolenic acid as well as the percentage of linoleic acid.
Most quality oils will have between 7-10% GLA and 40-75% LA (the higher the percentages the better).
If the company you are ordering the evening primrose oil does not list the GLA or LA content.
With their product it is advised to call them and get the percentage information on the 2 major constituent levels in their evening primrose oil.
The best evening primrose contains 10.3% gamma linolenic acid and 75% linoleic acid, available as carrier oil.
Evening primrose can be used all over the body.
Use it as a base to blend a therapeutic mix of essential oils for your specific ailment or as facial and body treatment to combat acne, dry, scared, mature, discolored and irritated skin.
Of course it can also be used alone to produce beneficial therapeutic action.
Evening primrose is a beautiful flowering plant. And an invaluable therapeutic emollient for general well being.
Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil
Of course Evening Primrose Oil is used, as described, for a plethora of different diseases and ailments.
However, after scouring the large literature base I have whittled Evening Primrose Oil down to some specific areas where the evidence is either most abundant or most intriguing.
Evening Primrose Oil | Joint problems
A lot of research has been undertaken to examine the effect of evening primrose oil (or its principle ingredient GLA) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
This is a form of arthritis which is characterised by chronic joint inflammation secondary to overproduction of inflammatory chemicals and reduced oxidative joint defence mechanisms.
It has been shown that GLA-rich oils provide an effect which reduces not only inflammatory processes.
But also reduces antioxidant activity and reduces the growth of new blood vessels.
The activity of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) has been considered one of the provocative factors for autoimmune diseases such as RA.
Consumption of evening primrose oil has been shown to be able to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress from free radicals.
By increasing the amount and effectiveness of antioxidant enzymes.
To the extent that disease activity in RA is reduced.
This would subsequently result in reduce symptoms (such as pain and stiffness) and better mobility and function in those suffering from RA.
The holy grail of supplements is weight loss aids. Anything we can consume which may assist the loss of body fat is likely to be often sold and used by the population!
However, once again despite people often singing the praises of evening primrose oil for this task. The benefits are not as clear and consistent as you may expect.
For example, a double-blind study on 100 significantly overweight women examined the benefit of evening primrose oil supplementation over 12-weeks and compared to a placebo supplement.
This study showed no difference between groups, meaning evening primrose oil was only as effective as a placebo tablet.
However, this trial was flawed methodologically by a 25% drop out rate which would substantially impact how legitimate and valid they results should be considered.
This was also in a group of women who had failed to respond previously to other forms of treatment- leading them to be considered to have “refractory obesity”.
Simply put this is a form of obesity which is considered to be resistant to treatment.
Another study (double blind randomised trial) examined whether evening primrose oil therapy may have an influence only on those who had a family history of obesity.
These results indicated a significant loss of weight in those who did have a family history; particularly if both parents were obese.
This perhaps indicates a true genetic component on the likely effectiveness of evening primrose oil on weight loss.
Considering the two sides of seemingly confusing results from this evidence, it is clear that more research is necessary to determine whether evening primrose oil is really useful for weight loss.
Evening Primrose Oil | Migraines
A final area where evening primrose oil is often used as therapy is with headaches, and specifically with migraines.
Previously a different ingredient of evening primrose oil (phenylalanine) has been considered the most important factor in its proposed effects on migraines.
However, a study on 129 participants over a 6 month period examined the benefits of PUFA consumption(22).
Of the 129 participants evaluated. 86% experienced a reduction in both headache frequency and length of the attack.
22% of those studied actually became free of migraines altogether. A group of 14% only, showed minimal or no improvement to the therapy.