January 20, 2019 at 12:00 am #8267
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) adorns many backyards. It grows extensively throughout North America and is now widely naturalized through much of Europe and parts of Asia. Its name comes from its fragrant yellow flowers, measuring about one inch in diameter, which bloom in the evening.
The plant is harvested at the beginning of the flowering season. Oil is extracted from the tiny dark-gray seeds, which are only one fifteenth of an inch (1.5 millimeter) long. The oil is commercially available in capsule form. Each capsule usually contains about 500 milligrams of oil. Up to 12 capsules a day, or a half teaspoon of oil, may be used to treat various conditions.
Native Americans are known to have gathered the seeds of evening primrose for food. They also used the plant to treat bruises, wounds, and sore throats. Today’s consumers also use the oil of evening primrose. It is available as a dietary supplement and in soaps and cosmetics. It is claimed that the oil can preserve skin elasticity and prevent wrinkle formation.
Therapeutic Uses of the Oil
Evening primrose oil has been used for the treatment of allergy-induced eczema, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mastalgia (breast pain and tenderness), diabetic neuropathy, and rheumatoid arthritis. Human studies using evening primrose oil have not always met with success. A patient may need to consume evening primrose oil for about three months before a positive clinical response is observed.
A number of human trials found that Evening Primrose Oil significantly improved the symptoms of atopic eczema, such as inflammation, itch, skin dryness, and scaliness. In Germany Evening Primrose Oil capsules have already been approved for the treatment and symptomatic relief of atopic eczema. The typical dosage is about three to six grams of Evening Primrose Oil daily.
Several studies have demonstrated that taking two to three grams of Evening Primrose Oil a day may provide significant relief for women with breast pain. Many women rEvening Primrose Oilrt that they experience a marked improvement in PMS symptoms when taking Evening Primrose Oil. However, clinical studies have not been consistent in their findings on the benefits of using Evening Primrose Oil to treat PMS.
Unique Property of Evening Primrose Oil
The health benefits of Evening Primrose Oil are attributed to the presence of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Evening Primrose Oil contains 8 to 14 percent of this unique fatty acid. GLA is a precursor for anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, and may block the formation of similar compounds that are responsible for inflammation. Hence the ratio of noninflammatory to inflammatory compounds is increased with the use of Evening Primrose Oil.
The presence of gamma-linolenic acid may explain why many people have used Evening Primrose Oil to ameliorate the symptoms of psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and other inflammations. Further scientific studies are needed to validate the usefulness and efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil in treating these inflammatory conditions.
There are other plant sources of GLA. These include the oil extracted from black currant seeds (Ribes nigrum) which have 14 to 19 percent GLA, and borage seeds (Borago officinalis), with 20 to 26 percent GLA. Borage seeds do contain small amounts of toxic alkaloids, so borage oil may not be as safe to use as the oil from evening primrose and black currant.
Other Studies REvening Primrose Oilrts from animal studies have shown the value of using Evening Primrose Oil for lowering blood cholesterol levels, diminishing the risk of blood clots, and treating hypertension, but researchers have been unable to verify these effects in human clinical trials.
Cold-pressed Evening Primrose Oil was recently found to contain three triterpene derivatives of caffeic acid with a pronounced antioxidant activity and an ability to mop up free radicals. These substances may prevent blood lipids from being oxidized. Only traces of these beneficial substances were found in commercial samples of Evening Primrose Oil.
Evening Primrose Oil is also considered to be ineffective when used orally by women to shorten labor duration, to prevent pre-eclampsia, and to treat menopausal hot flashes.
Evening Primrose Oil is generally considered to be safe. It has been used in several human studies without any significant side effects. A very small percentage of the population experience some side effects, such as headache, gastrointestinal distress, and nausea. Taking large amounts may also cause loose stools. It is not recommended to use Evening Primrose Oil during pregnancy, as it may increase the risk of pregnancy complications. It is, however, safe to use while breast feeding. Since Evening Primrose Oil contains a high level of unsaturated fat, it should be stored in a cool place in a dark bottle.
Because Evening Primrose Oil possesses antithrombotic properties, it may increase bleeding time. Its use would be contraindicated for those with bleeding disorders. Nosebleeds may result if Evening Primrose Oil is used along with herbs such as garlic or ginkgo. In addition, studies suggest that Evening Primrose Oil has the potential to lower the seizure threshold in patients with seizure disorders.
The use of Evening Primrose Oil has become quite popular for the treatment of PMS symptoms, skin problems, and other inflammatory conditions. It appears to be safe for the majority of people. Further studies are needed to substantiate the many claims made for its use.
Herbal products and dietary supplements can have pharmacological effects, may produce adverse reactions in some people, and could interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications you may take. Discuss with your physician your decision to use any herbal product. Anything mentioned in this article is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any ailment.
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