advertisement



Herbs


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Evening Primrose Oil
Oenothera biennis

Evening primrose oil comes from the seeds of a wildflower that grows throughout the United States. The oil, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), is an omega-6 essential fatty acid that is also found in the seeds of borage and black currant. The human body cannot make GLA so it must be obtained from outside sources. However, the body can convert another omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid found in nuts and vegetable oils, to GLA. In general, however, GLA is hard to come by in the diet.



Used for:

Native Americans used the seeds, leaves and roots for food. They also made poultices from the whole plant to heal bruises, and decoctions of the roots to treat hemorrhoids. The leaves were employed to treat minor wounds, gastrointestinal complaints, and sore throats.

It wasn't until the 1930s that the oil began to be used widely to address many different health problems including brittle nails and hair, eczema, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud's phenomenon, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren's syndrome, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, breast pain, menopausal symptoms, and others. Evening primrose oil has also been used in pregnancy for preventing high blood pressure, shortening labor, starting labor, and preventing late deliveries.

After reviewing the scientific evidence, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, concluded that EPO is “possibly effective” for treatment of breast pain (but may not be effective for severe, long-term pain) and for treatment of osteoporosis when used in combination with calcium and fish oils.  The review also found EPO “possibly ineffective” for treating PMS, ADHD, eczema, and hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause. The review found insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness of EPO for treating chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, complications of pregnancy, Sjogren's syndrome and concluded that more evidence is needed to assess the possible benefit of EPO for the treatment of cancer, acne, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer's disease.

As with most dietary supplements, do not expect immediate results when taking EPO supplements; it usually takes six to eight weeks for benefits to appear.



Available in:

EPO is available in oil form or in capsules. Generally, high-quality EPO will be certified as organic by a reputable third party and packaged in light-resistant containers.



Herb / drug interactions:

GLA may increase the risk of bleeding in patients taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin) and clopidogrel (Plavix). It may lower blood pressure in people taking medication for high blood pressure. It also may interact adversely with a number of antidepressants.



Other safety concerns:

The rare side effects that do occur usually are mild and may mean the dose is too high. They include nausea, headache, stomach, pain and loose stools. 



When buying:

Look for high-quality oil certified as organic by a reputable third party. The pills or oil should be packaged in light-resistant containers.



Dosage:

Take 500 mg two times a day. Used as recommended, EPO is generally considered safe.



Child dosage:

Half the adult dosage.



Dr. Weil says:

As we age, our bodies get drier inside and out. Evening primrose oil nourishes the skin, hair, nails, even the joints. The GLA it contains helps strengthen the skin barrier and reduces moisture loss. EPO has anti-inflammatory effects without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. I recommend it for arthritis, autoimmune disorders, premenstrual syndrome and for healthy growth of skin, hair, and nails.

SOURCES:
Evening Primrose Oil, Herbs at a Glance, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Accessed at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/eveningprimrose, November 7, 2013

M. Cameron et al “Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis.” Cochrane Database Systemic Review, February 16, 2011; doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002948.pub2.

Evening Primrose Oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer version. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, Updated February 27, 2013, accessed November 11, 2013 at http://naturaldatabaseconsumer.therapeuticresearch.com/nd/Search.aspx?cs=NONMP&s=NDC&pt=100&id=1006&lang=0&fs=NDC&searchid=43295940

Evening Primrose Oil, University of Maryland Medical Center, last reviewed July 26, 2011, accessed November 8 at http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/evening-primrose-oil

Reviewed by Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., November 15, 2013




advertisement

Are You Getting The Herbs and Supplements You Need?
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out which herbs and supplements are right for right for you, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor.

 

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here