Updated July 11, 2019
At ALOHA, we’re all about power to the plants. We’ve shown how plant-based proteins can benefit your health, but we have another plant to talk about.
What is Evening Primrose Oil?
Dr. Josh Axe tells us about evening primrose oil, which comes from the evening primrose plant. It wasn’t until recently that evening primrose oil was used for its amazing health benefits, so you may be surprised to learn about the impact it can have on your hormone health, skin, hair, and bones.
The oil is high in essential fatty acids—which provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.
Essential fatty acids are necessary for human health, but the body can’t make them—you have to get them through food. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development.
Your body needs a healthy balance of essential fatty acids, such as the omega-6, found in evening primrose, and omega-3, found in fish oil. Consuming fats slows down absorption so we can go longer without feeling hungry; they also act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.
7 Evening Primrose Oil Benefits
Women can take primrose oil to naturally treat PMS symptoms because of its essential fatty acid content.
Consuming essential fatty acids creates a healthy environment for conception; they help you lose weight and produce balanced hormones. I recommend that you take 1,500 milligrams, beginning on the first day of your menstrual cycle, until ovulation.
A hormonal imbalance can lead to acne in teens and adults alike, and many people don’t realize that acne can be treated naturally.
In order to treat hormonal acne, you need to tackle the root of the problem—the hormonal imbalance. No topical treatment does that for you; it only treats the already existing pimples or scars. The omega-6 fatty acids present in evening primrose oil can help you to regulate your hormone levels and cure your hormonal acne issues. These fatty acids also play a role in cell structure, improving nerve function and promoting skin elasticity.
To take advantage of this evening primrose oil health benefit regarding hormonal acne, you can take an evening primrose oil capsule daily. You can also put the oil on your face directly. This is known to help with the healing process and improve the overall appearance of your skin.
3. Hair Loss
Men and women struggle with hair loss, and sometimes the best way to prevent this issue it with diet or supplements. When it comes to hair, hormones play a significant role—including in the hair pattern found on your head, as well as the rest of your body.
Essential omega-6 fatty acid, GLA, which comes from consuming capsules of evening primrose oil, can be highly effective in the fight against hair loss. Try taking 500 milligrams twice a day—you will begin to see results in six to eight weeks.
You can also rub evening primrose oil into your hair or add it to your shampoo. In a study done at the University of Maryland, 86 people who were experiencing hair loss massaged their scalps with essential oils. They did this daily for seven months; at the end, those who used essential oils daily noticed significant hair regrowth. Besides using evening primrose oil for this remedy, try lavender, cypress, and lemongrass essential oils too.
4. Skin Health
Evening primrose oil has proven to be a valuable treatment choice for people suffering from skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis. Studies published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciencehave even shown that evening primrose oil can help with age-related structural and functional changes in skin tissues, such as redness, firmness, roughness, and fatigue resistance.
Research shows that people with eczema don’t have the normal ability to process fatty acids; this results in a deficiency of gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that the body can convert to substances that reduce inflammation and cell growth. Studies prove that evening primrose oil is remarkably effective in relieving many symptoms of eczema, including itching, redness, and edema.
Psoriasis occurs when skin cells replicate too quickly, which results in swollen patches under the skin covered with whitish scales on top. The cause of psoriasis includes hormonal changes, poor diet, and difficulty digesting protein. An evening primrose oil benefit is its ability to help naturally cure psoriasis—because the essential fatty acids help with hormone balance and digestion.
5. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body—such as both hands, both wrists, or both knees. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.
Some studies show that primrose oil may be a suitable natural remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. One study done by Arthritis Research UK measured the effects of evening primrose oil on 49 people. The data found that 94 percent of participants who got evening primrose oil reported a significant improvement of disease-related symptoms, including pain and morning stiffness. When using evening primrose oil for symptoms of arthritis, it may take one to three months for benefits to appear.
Studies have shown that evening primrose oil, when also taken with calcium and fish oil, can help increase bone density in seniors with Osteoporosis.
7. Nerve Damage
Studies and research have shown that nerve damage symptoms, specifically caused by diabetes, can be improved by taking evening primrose oil every day for 8-12 months.
Can Evening Primrose Oil Help Induce Labor?
When it comes to inducing labor, different guidelines are given by doctors and nurses depending on a person's medical history. a number of studies say that evening primrose oil can help thin out and soften the cervix. Others have shown that it can help shorten labor all together. This is caused by a prostaglandin response in the body which is triggered by the linolenic acid found in evening primrose oil.
Though some agree that evening primrose oil does help to naturally induce labor, there are not enough formal studies to prove that it works. Always talk to your doctor before taking evening primrose oil when pregnant.
Evening Primrose Oil Side Effects
The dosage for primrose oil varies depending on the particular ailment. We suggest consulting your doctor before taking any new supplements. Reported side effects are rare and mild, and include:
- Stomach pain
- Stomach pain and loose stools may mean that the dose is too high.
If you take medication for blood thinning or blood pressure medication, speak to your health care provider before consuming evening primrose oil. If you’re prone to seizures and take a class of medications called phenothiazines, which is used to treat schizophrenia, you shouldn’t take evening primrose oil because it may increase your risk of seizures.
Photo Credit: free photos, Shutterstock, Sarah Lee
About the Author: Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine, and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. He is a regular contributor to the ALOHA site, sharing his expertise about everything from gluten-free flour alternatives to the health benefits of probiotics. @drjoshaxe