Evening Primrose Oil

image001 Evening primrose wildflowers are widely available throughout the United States, and the seeds of this plant are used to create evening primrose oil. The Native Americans commonly consumed these seeds or created poultices from evening primrose plants, but it has just recently been hailed for its medical properties. This oil is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 fats are similar to omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for use as building blocks for molecules in the body.

Why Do People Use Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil is often claimed to manage skin disorders including acne, eczema or psoriasis. In addition, due to its high omega-6 content, this oil may be prescribed to help manage Raynaud’s syndrome, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, high cholesterol, dyspraxia in children, cancer, intermittent claudication, Alzheimer’s disease and alcoholism. Many also use evening primrose oil as a dietary supplement for essential fatty acids.

In less common cases, people also claim that evening primrose oil is effective in managing nerve damage from diabetes, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, neurodermatitis, obesity and encouraging weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), whooping cough, ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

During manufacturing, evening primrose oil will often be added to cosmetics or soaps to enhance the fragrance of the product.

How Effective Is Evening Primrose Oil?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database has rated evening primrose oil possibly effective, possibly ineffective and insufficient evidence to rate the effectiveness for the conditions mentioned above.

Possibly Effective For

It’s possible in treating osteoporosis if it is taken along with fish oils and calcium.

It is also rated possibly effective for treating breast pain, though it does not appear to be effective for long-term management of these symptoms.

Possibly Ineffective For

Primrose oil has also been shown possibly ineffective in managing ADHD, hot flashes, night sweats, PMS or eczema. Research has also noted that evening primrose oil does not appear to prevent high blood pressure, shorten labor or prevent late delivery in those that are pregnant. Studies have also indicated that this product is not effective in managing Sjogren’s syndrome.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness For

There is insufficient evidence to determine if evening primrose oil is effective in managing Alzheimer’s disease, acne, cancer, high cholesterol, Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or heart disease.

Some initial evidence has indicated that combining evening primrose oil with fish oils may help to manage chronic fatigue syndrome, though studies have provided inconsistent findings.

Some studies have shown that taking evening primrose oil can help to reduce Rheumatoid arthritis pain, while other studies have shown that this oil has no effect.

In Britain, this oil was once approved for use in treating breast pain or eczema, but the Medicines Control Agency withdrew licenses for prescription drug products containing evening primrose oil because it was determined that there was not enough evidence that these products were effective.

Are There Safety Concerns of Evening Primrose Oil?

In most cases evening primrose oil should be safe to use. But it can cause nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea or headaches with frequent use. It is possibly safe to use while breastfeeding or during pregnancy, but there is a chance that this could increase your risk of complications. Given this risk, it is not recommended to use evening primrose oil while pregnant and you should check with your doctor before using this product while breastfeeding.

Taking evening primrose oil may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising, so those that have a disorder that further increases these risks should not use this oil. Those that are preparing or have just been through surgery should avoid using evening primrose oil for at least two weeks. People that have seizure disorders may have an increase in symptoms when using evening primrose oil. If this occurs, stop using EPO immediately. Similarly, those that have schizophrenia using phenothiazine drugs may see a negative interaction. Talk with your doctor before you start using this product to ensure you will not suffer a negative reaction.

Are There Any Interactions with Evening Primrose Oil?

  1. Interactions with Medications. The gamma-linolenic acid in evening primrose oil can slow blood clotting, so this should not be taken along with medications intended for the same purpose, as this can cause a bleeding and bruising risk. Clopidogrel, aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ibuprofen, dalteparin, naproxen, warfarin, enoxaparin or heparin are known to cause ill effects when taken with evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil may also negatively interact with medications used to prep an individual for surgery. On at least one occasion this combination caused a patient to experience a seizure.
  2. Interactions with Supplements and Herbs. Using evening primrose oil alongside herbs that are known to decrease blood clotting can cause a bleeding risk in some users. Potentially dangerous combinations include turmeric, clove, angelica, clove, garlic, danshen, gingko, red clover among others.
  3. Interactions with Foods. Evening primrose oil is not known to have any negative interactions with foods.